Bhag Amina Bhag is a telefilm based on the life of Naseem Hamid, the Pakistani athlete who won the 100 meter race in the 11th South Asian Federation (SAF) Games in Dhaka in 2010. A proud moment for the nation, along with the gold medal this win also earned Naseem the title of fastest woman in South Asia that year.
But, before came this moment of glory there were hurdles galore.
Written by Farah Usman (script supervised by Noor ul Huda Shah), directed by Yasir Nawaz and produced by Sameena Humayun Saeed and Shahzad Naseeb, Bhag Amina Bhag is the beautifully handled retelling of Naseem’s inspirational journey – from her humble beginnings in the bylanes of Korangi to the international stadium in Dhaka.
There was nothing extra-ordinary about Amina’s early life, in fact much is depressingly familiar. An abusive father, victimized mother, socially conditioned bias towards sons, societal disapproval, familial pressure to conform and fit into an acceptable box – Amina’s story is sadly unremarkable in how commonplace it is. But.
What makes Amina’s story different is her refusal to let others dicate her life. Her journey is challenging and unglamorous, but with constant encouragement from a childhood friend, Haris, and gradually increasing support from her mother, this film is a tribute to a young girl’s grit and determination to carve out a different path for herself. Yes, this is a story of patriarchy, domestic abuse, unequal treatment of women, corruption, but it is also a story of aspiration, ambition, resilience, and most importantly self- empowerment.
Biopics by definition have a teleological trajectory; we know what happened but how it happened is where the art of story telling comes into play. Bhag Amina Bhag is a standout in how the story unfolds. There are a lot of hot-button issues but not once are we hit on the head with “messages” about “social issues.” Rather than dwelling on its darker tones, the narrative is refreshingly upbeat and surprisingly humorous as the story tellers subtly hone in on the motivational aspects of the story, leaving it to the viewers to connect the dots. Most importantly, the telefilm never loses focus of the fact that this is a story about Amina’s journey hence we are spared the preachy lectures and the rah rah chest thumping jingoism.
For a story like this to work it is essential that we connect to the protaognist Amina, and thanks to Aamina Sheikh we do. Aamina is brilliant. You have to watch this to see her commitment to the character and how she transforms into this seedhi saadhi larki from a kaccha pakka makaan near the train tracks. There is not a single false note here. Shahroz Sabzwari is very good here as Haris; his acting here makes me question how and why his skills have stagnated over time. Lubna Aslam, Rashid Farooqi are very good as Amina’s parents. A young Paras Masroor (we all know him now from Sange-e Mar Mar) is effective as her brother.
Allowing the real and raw performances to stand out is the world inhabited by these characters. The railway colony setting is real and unaffected and as much a character here. There is no glamor and no attempt to prettify the picture but then neither is it a glorification of poverty. Director Yasir Nawaz walks this fine line carefully and is mindful to not meander into the doom and gloom zone but then does not go all OTT pretty and colorful either. Watching this telefilm reminded me of why I used to look out for Yasir Nawaz’s projects once upon a time. Hopefully his Mehrunnisa We Lub U phase is not a forever one.
There are many reasons why this telefilm continues to stay with me: An empowered heroine who is an agent of change; the subject – there is absolutely nothing about sports on TV (not counting off-screen dramas) let alone anything about women in sports; Aamina Sheikh. There are only a few among the present lot (as in not from the PTV era) who commit to a character like Aamina does. Aamina, I’ve missed you – waapis aajayen!
Bottomline, if you are looking for something hatke then this one is for you. Watch and let me know what you thought!
Written by SZ~
Bhag Amina Bhag ~ Telefilm