‘Saving Face’ is a good documentary, it is about women who are victims of a vicious crime,. It is about egos which became so treacherous and detrimental that they only get satisfaction in violence and sedition. It is about men who seeks revenge in petty domestic issues and who can never respect an individual, for them revenge means mutilating a woman. It is about a society which braces and supports prejudices based on gender, race and religion, which keeps a blind eye on atrocities against humanity and whose members think that turning from reality is the solution to all ill wills. It is about a person’s decision to come forward to help the victims as a professional; dedicated and sincere surgeon. And this film is about another professional who realized the importance of this surgeon’s efforts and decided to bring these efforts to the world.
Through this film we meet heroes, those brave women who have not given up and continually striving to change the situation, who are determined to face the challenges and seek a better future for themselves. A brave surgeon Mohammad Jawad, who travelled from UK to Pakistan to provide professional assistance to the victims, in order to give them a chance to recover and find a better place in a hostile society. We also meet Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who was requested by co-director Daniel Jung to work with him. The film has won an Oscar in the ‘Best documentary-Short subject’ category, and that has become a matter of pride for this nation. And that is where it becomes a delusion as to why people should feel proud? On the other hand there are those who are denouncing the film as a conspiracy against the pride of nation and then there are those who feel ashamed of reality. All three responses are fallacious and illusionary.
Sharmeen herself has said that the film does not present a negative impression but highlights the courage of people, that is understandable but still there is no reason here to celebrate the first Oscar by a Pakistani. We can appreciate the efforts, we should adore the heroes, we must acclaim their achievements but we must also understand the dark side of it and that is the plight of victims. And that demands us a moderate and reasonable response, instead of rejoicing we should turn back to the plight of victims, cannot we feel the pain and misery? As a nation we need to provide a better response to the acclamation this film has received, we need to consider the plight of victims seriously; we need to denounce the violence against the weak elements in society, we need to come forward to support these elements, we need to accept that women have every right which men enjoy in the society and we need to strive to protect their rights. We have a responsibility which is much larger and far important than mere rejoicing, and if we cannot understand the fact then we have failed to understand the objectives behind making of this film.
There are various evils at large in this society, growing violence is one of them, and we are a male dominated society where female is considered almost as good as a belonging, a personal property by men. And humiliating a woman is a way to keep honour, take revenge, satisfy ego and have fun. There are thousands of reported events of molesting and assaulting women one way or another, across the country. How many more are unreported and unnoticed? No one can estimate. Very recently laws were passed by government to severe the penalties and punishment for such crimes and it was decided that convicts in acid attacks will have to serve a term of at least fourteen years which can be extended to life sentence along with heavy fines. That indicates the sensitivity and seriousness of this evil in society, and that the film has tried to bring a reality to our notice. Yet there are people who feel ashamed to accept the fact? From whom they are trying to hide the truth? From themselves, from their conscious. That should be called a really shameful act. Negating and turning away from reality does not change it, it simply makes change a difficult task to bring about, and that is our dilemma.
Art for the sake of art is leisure, but there is a better use of creativity and that is to benefit humanity from it. Creativity that aims to help others is far better than creations solely aimed to amuse a few select in society. While the world is mesmerized by beauty of Taj, there is a soul who says that:
“ik shehensha ney dolat ka sahara ley kar
hum ghareebon ki muhabat ka udaya hey mazaq’
“An emperor made fun of the sentiments of poor by his wealth”
It depends on one’s self how the person reflects on the events occurring around, there is always more than one way to analyse and understand events. False pride and state of denial are real shame and hinderers in progress. We should try to seek the knowledge without prejudices and do our best to participate in overcoming misery and suffering around us.