Kamli, with love from Pakistan

For a film about passion’s upheavals, Kamli is a strangely quiet film. It focuses on its beautiful heroine’s face in the hope that we would be able to read her heart from there

Kamli poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)
Kamli poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)
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Subhash K Jha

Rating: *** ½

I was completely bowled over by Sarmad Khoosat's Kamli, a simple sublime fable of loneliness and love, told with absolutely no flourish or flamboyance.

For a film about passion’s upheavals, Kamli is a strangely quiet film. It focuses on its beautiful heroine’s face in the hope that we would be able to read her heart from there. And most of the times we do. Saba Qamar looking like an arresting mix of Priya Rajvansh and Kitu Gidwani leads us gently into her heart. Her Hina is a mysterious creature. She roams the jungle as if it belongs to her. And in many ways , it does!

Hina is a child of nature. She cannot be fastened to fascist traditions. Her blind sister-in-law Sakina (Sania Saeed, a bit over-the-top, but effective) wants to tie down Hina by reminding her that her husband, though missing for eight years, is not technically dead.

Hina of course does exactly what her heart tells her. She promptly falls in love with a complete stranger in the woods. The lustrous forbidden liaison has a kind of Lawrentian luminosity to him. A do-what-you-can defiance drives Hina to the brink of adultery.

Director Khoosat shoots Hina’s intriguing passion-play like a dream. The camera swirls and dances around the couple, suggesting that the liaison is emphatically erotic and yet not carnal.


A standing ovation for the director’s skills at conveying unconsummated passion so aesthetically. His cinematographer Awais Gohar is one with the director’s vision. Together they shoot the rites of intimacy with a gentleness and wisdom that take the couple beyond bodily desires.

I am not too sure if I appreciated the subplot about a lonely alcoholic childless wife Zeenat played by Nimra Bucha and her bitterness bleeding into the plot. I feel Kamli would have worked better without the bitterness of an inwardly raging woman who wants to dispel her desolation but doesn’t know how.

Hina in comparison is far more in control of her desires. Of course, she wants companionship and ...errr… sex, although the ‘s’ word is never mentioned. But when Hina starts getting home late, her sightless sister-in-law can smell the lust in Hina.

The twist at the end could be seen coming from miles away. The ending leaves many of the incidents seen earlier with question marks.

Never mind! Kamli is a film that allows itself the freedom of inconsistency. It’s about a woman who won’t follow rules. The film too is a rule breaker. Questioning societal dogma about women and their needs, without disrespecting anyone.

One of the many highlight of Kamli is the songs. They haunt you, gnaw at  your senses asking you to look at the anguish and heartbreak women face when they are not given the right to experience desire.

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