Inspired by true events that unfurled in the late 90’s in Pakistan, the newly released film Gunjal, tells the story of journalist Shahbaz Bhatti in his quest to find answers into the murder of child activist Irfan Massi. In the midst of his journey he encounters Meher, a steadfast woman who works in an NGO that actively fights against the brutalities and unfair treatment of children in the labor force. Meher’s enlightening insight is what propels Shahbaz to see the importance of education in a child’s life. It also awakens a saga of conspiracy theories as the audience is taken on a compelling journey throughout the two hours and ten minutes of the film.
While Shahbaz Bhatti’s movements and discoveries were what kept us entrenched in the story’s flow, it was really Meher who was the real mover and shaker of the film. Played by the spectacularly talented Amna Ilyas who brought lilt to her Punjabi dialogues and emotion with her crestfallen expressions.
And what we can’t and won’t forget is the countless times throughout the film where Meher delivers thought provoking monologues that make us all question the reality of child labor in Pakistan. In short, Meher’s character is the glue that holds the film together. From her endearing encounters with Irfan Massi to her chance encounters with Shahbaz that facilitate in unraveling the plot, we simply couldn’t get enough of the magnitude of passion she had.
If there’s anyone that knows how to bring courage as well as depth to a character, it is Amna Ilyas. The actress who is known for films such as Zinda Bhaag and Baaji has been known to take on roles that attest to her wealth of talent that lies within.
Directed by Shoaib Sultan, this is a film that is not to be missed.