Islamabad: A documentary on slain ex-premier
Benazir Bhutto`s life has opened to packed houses across
Pakistan, though some have described the movie as a "public
relations" exercise by the ruling PPP.
`Bhutto`, which got rave reviews at the Sundance Film
Festival earlier this year, was co-directed by Duane Baughman.
Baughman, who like the rest of the world watched the
first woman to lead a Muslim nation being killed by a suicide
bomber in 2007, decided to document how Bhutto managed to
defeat the impossible odds stacked against her.
"A few months later, myself and a film crew would find
ourselves sitting in Dubai in what had been Benazir`s living
room, listening to her three heartbroken children and her
shaken widower, Asif Ali Zardari, explain why Benazir was
compelled to leave her family and the safe confines of a cushy
self-exile to march back into Pakistan to face death threats
and a political hurricane," Baughman said on his website.
"Along the way on the amazing journey of making this
movie, I discovered Pakistan and learned that Benazir`s family
story was something out of a Greek tragedy with unsolved
murders, political intrigue, family feuds, hijackings,
poisonings you name it. Her story had all the elements from
triumph to tragedy. I understand better now why the Bhuttos
are called the `Kennedys of Pakistan`," he said.
The 115-minute film, released yesterday in Pakistani
cities like Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi, has attracted
people in droves but some reviews have been less than glowing.
Pakistanis thronged a multiplex in Rawalpindi to watch
"We have read many things about Benazir Bhutto in books
but this documentary covers all aspects of the life of the
`Daughter of the East`," a student told state-run APP news
Several reviews said the film was meant for an audience
that is unfamiliar with the Bhuttos and Pakistan.
In its review, the Express Tribune newspaper said:
"Unfortunately, for a Pakistani audience, beyond the images
and new footage, `Bhutto` offers nothing new and often feels
like a product of the Pakistan Peoples Party`s PR machine."
The film opens in October 2007, when Bhutto decided to
end eight years of self-imposed exile to return to Pakistan to
lead the PPP into the upcoming general election.
It juxtaposed Pakistan`s tumultuous journey since its
creation in 1947 and its strained relations with India against
the role of the Bhutto family in the country`s politics.
A notable aspect of the documentary is the use of
previously unheard audio tapes of Bhutto telling her own
The tapes feature Bhutto reflecting on her life`s most
intimate and poignant moments.
The film also has interviews with Zardari, Bhutto`s
children Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa and her sister Sanam
and a wealth of newly discovered archival footage and news
clips of chaotic and disturbing images that marked the years
both during and between Benazir Bhutto`s regimes.
The movie`s soundtrack features the song `Dila Teer Bija`
that was recorded by drummer Stewart Copeland, a member of the
band Police, and Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, who issued a rap
song in honour of her mother last year.
The filmmakers had their own share of adventures while
working in Pakistan.
Baughman revealed that three days after he checked out of
the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, it was targeted by a suicide
car bomber in 2008.
Producer Mark Siegel, who was Bhutto`s friend and
spokesman, said: "This film shows that Benazir Bhutto was a
much more complex and historically unique figure than many
people may`ve realised.
"She was an extraordinary bridge between cultures,
continents and religions selflessly accepting a political
mantel she never wanted, a responsibility that was thrust upon