Monday, February 3, 2020

Review: Gul Makai

Release date: January 24, 2020
Running time: 132 minutes
Starring: Reem Shaikh, Divya Dutta, Atul Kulkarni 

Gul Makai is a dramatic nonfiction telling of the events leading to the Taliban takeover of Pakistan and the eventual attack on student activist Malala Yousafzai, a young girl who was shot because she wanted to go to school.  Malala started blogging on BBC Urdu under the pseudonym Gul Makai, detailing the oppression that her hometown faced under the Taliban.  

Although Gul Makai is advertised as a Malala biopic, and it does detail the oppression faced by her and her village, the film is more focused on the Taliban takeover of Pakistan.  We only briefly meet Malala during the first hour of the film, with most of that focused on the brutality and religious ideology of the Taliban as it terrorized Pakistan.  Even after we meet Malala, there is little told about her or her courageous effort, as the film keeps going back and forth between her and the struggle of the military and insurgents to fight the Taliban.  It is a strange balance, and one that I do not think works.  The film really does paint a great picture of the grim conditions that Pakistan existed in under the Taliban, and the abject violence that occurred to enforce their religious ideology, but it unfortunately does not do a great job of highlighting its main subject.  Even the horrific event that led to the international community finally taking notice of Malala and her plight is only briefly shown.

The actual fighting is mostly well done, with lots of gunplay and some big explosions as both the Taliban grab land in Pakistan and as the military fights back against them.  There are some goofs, such as soldier's "firing" by vibrating their guns, but overall it does paint a picture of the violence that occurred in this time.  It also does a fantastic job of painting the sheer brutality of it all, but I also wonder how much was real and how much was for dramatic effect.  The acting is good, if overly dramatic.  The highlight is Malala's father, who portrays a brave, determined person doing all he can for his village and the girls who only want an education.  This film is in a tough place, because it does a good job of portraying what led to the infamous attack on Malala, but it does not do a great job of portraying the main character.  There is very little shown of her blogging and the effort she made to get the international community to notice her plight. 

Gul Makai paints a grim picture of the Taliban takeover of Pakistan, and the infamous event that led to Malala Yousafzi receiving international attention. 

Rent It

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