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Sarmad Khoosat’s feature film Kamli, released on June 3, 2022 is currently running across Pakistan and holding well during its second weekend at high-end multiplexes, reaching nearly the Rs. 3 crore mark so far. The hype has not slowed down and in gatherings, you overhear people asking each other whether they have watched the movie or not.

I have watched the movie thrice. It is a mix of sensuality, romance, and eeriness that talks about the female desire and female gaze in the most surreal way.

On the surface, Kamli revolves around Hina (Saba Qamar), who lives with her visually-impaired sister-in-law Sakina (Sania Saeed). In the movie, Hina’s husband is shown to be missing for long with no signs of return. Her routine is monotonous and limited to household chores. The only breathing space she finds is at Zeenat’s house, where she is the subject or muse of her paintings. Zeenat’s character is very well-played by Nimra Bucha, who is a bitter woman; dealing with infertility and an unhappy marriage with Nadir (Omair Rana).

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One day, Hina encounters Alamtaas (Hamza Khawaja), and they both fall in love with each other. The entry of Alamtaas in the film is indeed one of the most sensual and intimate ones that I have seen in most movies.

On a deeper level, Kamli focuses on the emotions, fantasies, and desires of women which, when, suppressed in one way or another, lead to mental health issues. These emotions are depicted through different symbolic and metaphorical references such as a pink umbrella, mosquito net, a rabbit or a swan, rainwater, or fire. Hence, the entire ‘mise-en-scene’ of the film creates an atmosphere that draws you into the psychological world of emotions experienced by women.

Qamar as Hina, the protagonist, stuns yet once again in one of the most complex roles of her career. Casting Hamza Khawaja as Amaltaas seems a great choice as the young former Mr. LUMS does complete justice to his role – ‘a soothing sight for Hina’s sore eyes and restless mind’. Sania Saeed representing the blind eye tradition that is numb towards Hina is convincing and believable in every way.

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The screenplay is written by Fatima Sattar and the brilliant cinematography done by Awais Gohar makes this film a visual treat to watch. Music is yet another highlight of the film, perhaps one of the best that has come out so far. Songs such as ‘Naina’ and ‘Mukhra’ composed by masters like Zulfiqar Ali (Nairray Ahh – in the film Chooryaan), sound design by super-talented Saad Sultan with powerful vocals of Reshma Jee and Atif Aslam will haunt you even after the film ends.

To conclude, Kamli is a thought-provoking film that leaves you with a lot of questions when you come out of the cinema hall. A must-watch if you wish to see artistry, the craft of filmmaking that we all miss or rather complain about when it comes to our local cinema.