Movie reviews: 'Bhutto'

by admin


Opens on Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

Bhutto – Trailer

Directed by Duane Baughman and Johnny O’Hara; written by Mr. O’Hara; music by Mader, Herb Graham Jr., Stewart Copeland and Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari; produced by Mr. Baughman, Mark Siegel and Arleen Sorkin; released by First Run Features. Running time: 1 hour 51 minutes.

“An informed and informative documentary that acts as a quick primer for nearly 40 years of Pakistani history and presents an incredible, and incredibly complex, story of a unique political figure.” FSR

The documentary ‘Bhutto’ looks at the tragic life of Benazir Bhutto, her family and the political history of Pakistan.

“The events surrounding Benazir Bhutto‘s life play out like some particularly lurid, R-rated action flick. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the charismatic father and Pakistani prime minister, is overthrown by a rival, jailed and executed (the rival, Gen. Zia Ul Haq, later dies in a mysterious plane explosion). One of Benazir’s brothers is poisoned, killer unknown. Another brother is murdered in a confrontation with police, allegedly without provocation. Bhutto’s husband is accused of corruption, jailed for years, but never convicted of any crime. Bhutto herself is in and out of jail, in and out of exile, serves two terms as her country’s prime minister, and is finally assassinated in 2007, assailant unclear.” Miller-McCune

“Benazir Bhutto had a life that makes fiction pale by comparison. When writer Tariq Ali says, characterizing the tale of her charismatic but cursed family, “the whole story has strong elements of a Greek tragedy,” he is not telling the half of it.

As “Bhutto,” the thorough and involving documentary on her life conveys, Benazir was a formidable personality all by herself. The first woman to head a Muslim state, twice Pakistan’s prime minister, assassinated Dec. 27, 2007, when she returned from exile to try for a third term, Benazir was rarely less than remarkable.

Though “Bhutto” doesn’t shy away from the controversies surrounding its subject, it is very much on Benazir’s side. Directors Duane Baughman and Johnny O’Hara have gotten on-camera cooperation from Benazir’s sister, her three children and her widower, Pakistan’s current President Asif Ali Zardari.

Plus the film made extensive use of audiotapes, never before aired publicly, that journalist Linda Bird Francke made with Benazir while working with her on her autobiography, “Daughter of Destiny.”

Yet “Bhutto” also takes pains to include an interview with Benazir’s niece Fatima, the daughter of her murdered brother Murtaza and a woman who offers a withering critique of her assassinated aunt. She has also accused widower Zardari, who had the nickname of “Mr. Ten Percent” because of alleged corruption during his wife’s first term, of continued dishonesty and worse.

While getting to the bottom of these disputes is not in the cards for “Bhutto,” what this film does best is offer a crash course in the ultra-turbulent history of Pakistan, the second-largest Muslim country in the world and with a reported nuclear arsenal of 80 to 100 weapons.

Benazir’s father was a major player in that history, memorably physically tearing up an agreement with India during a U.N. debate. When President Kennedy told Zulfikar he’d place him in his cabinet if he were an American, the Pakistani leader responded, “If I was an American, I would be in your place.”

When Benazir was born, her parents went into mourning because she was not a boy. Benazir overcame this obstacle, the first of many, and became so adept at politics and so close to her father, who founded the Pakistan Peoples Party, that he defied tradition and named her his political heir.

Her extensive involvement in government meant that Benazir had little time for a personal life, so she took the unusual step of being part of an arranged marriage because remaining a single woman would have hampered her political career.

“Bhutto” says the union blossomed into a love match and the sadness Zardari demonstrates in his interview segments is an emotion that all viewers of this look at Benazir’s tragic life will share.”Los Angles Times

“Bhutto,” a documentary about Benazir Bhutto, the two-time prime minister of Pakistan who was killed while campaigning in 2007, packs an impressive amount of information about Bhutto, her family and Pakistani history into its 111 minutes. If nothing else, the directors, Duane Baughman and Johnny O’Hara, deserve praise for devoting this kind of attention to a foreign leader and to the internal politics of another country (as opposed to how those politics affect the United States).

The film’s style can make the acquisition of all that data a slightly exhausting experience. Mr. Baughman is a political consultant who owns a direct-mail marketing company, and it feels as if the techniques of his day job are at work in “Bhutto.” Explanatory graphics and titles move by a little too quickly, and the film never stops talking: the voices of interview subjects, newscasts and Bhutto herself are woven into a nearly nonstop audioscape.

The emotions that “Bhutto” arouses — admiration, anger, sorrow — are blunted by a perhaps inevitable frustration. While the film gives us a strong sense of Bhutto’s personality and strength, largely through interviews with her Western friends and colleagues, it can only suggest the daily family and political machinations that were her reality, and it leaves us with no clear sense of the truth of the corruption charges that dogged her.”New York Times

4 Comments to “Movie reviews: 'Bhutto'”

  1. I have seen the movie & have to say its a must see, whether ur a critic or a fan of the Bhuttos..For the movie itself, great Editing, scene selection & background music!!!
    Rating 5/5!!!!!!

  2. مٹی کی محبت میں ہم آشفتہ سروں نے

    وہ قرض اتارے ہیں جو واجب بھی نہیں تھے

  3. ‘Bhutto’: For Pakistan’s Heroine, A Hagiography

    A new documentary about Benazir Bhutto lets a full hour go by before entertaining the mildest doubts about its subject, the hugely popular prime minister of Pakistan who was assassinated on her triumphant return to Karachi from exile in 2007.

    Bhutto is smart and thorough on the inflamed history of Pakistan. But as a portrait of the first woman elected head of state in an Islamic nation, it comes closer to hero-worship than to considered biography. Front-loaded with glowing testimonials from family and FOB’s East and West, the movie gives a startling degree of face time to its own co-producer, Mark Siegel, a political consultant and close friend of Bhutto who co-authored a book with her.

    The director, Duane Baughman, also a political consultant, helped get Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton elected, so he knows how to brand a public figure, dead or alive.

    Not that this particular public figure needs much enlarging. Bhutto’s sense of mission and her personal courage, as she returned again and again to try and democratize a nation whose military leaders blithely murdered their opposition, are beyond dispute. Like her adored father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s first democratically elected head of state (and the creator of its nuclear program), she struggled to bring basic services to a country mired in poverty, illiteracy and chronic conflict across its volatile borders with India, Afghanistan and Iran — to say nothing of its ambivalent dependency on a United States worried to death by the Taliban, al-Qaida and the enriched uranium in Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals.

    About Bhutto’s failings and mistakes, however, the film is discreet to the point of squeamishness. Luckily, this magnificently complicated woman’s contradictions tumble out anyway. Almost despite itself, the movie offers a riveting melodrama about a daddy’s girl born into a close but feuding Western-educated dynasty known both for its populist politics and its champagne tastes. (The Bhuttos were thought of — admiringly, Baughman implies, though given the straits in which most Pakistanis live, one wonders — as the Kennedys of Pakistan.)

    From grieving family and friends (inevitably, Arianna Huffington was a pal at Oxford), we learn of a serious-minded young woman freed from her burqa by Dad while still in her teens. At Harvard, where she roomed with Kathleen Kennedy, she absorbed feminism and leftist politics.
    Yet later she willingly submitted to an arranged marriage with a Karachi playboy-entrepreneur, Asif Ali Zardari, who has been Pakistan’s president since the fall of Pervez Musharraf in 2008. She prayed to Allah in public, yet worked hard to bring schooling to girls in an Islamic state vehemently opposed to rights for women.

    Bhutto inherited her father’s charm, charisma and elegant tailoring, as well as his preference for backroom wheeler-dealing. Remarkably, her father chose Benazir over her two brothers as his successor, and her political career eerily echoed his, zigzagging between triumph, prison, exile and return to repeated rapturous welcomes from adoring masses.

    Bookended by footage of the sniper fire and suicide bombing that killed her, Bhutto faithfully follows the hectic arcs of her life and death. Yet the movie glides smoothly past the corruption charges — never proved or disproved — that led to Bhutto’s exile and her husband’s imprisonment, effectively dismissing them as trumped up by her enemies. Much time is spent, meanwhile, on the moving but sentimental memories of her tearful family, topped up with new but unedifying audiotapes of Bhutto herself outlining her ideals, the harshness of her incarceration in a Pakistani prison and the loneliness of exile in Dubai.

    Bhutto could stand a less adulatory tone — and more reliable skeptics than her clearly disgruntled niece, for instance, when it comes to topics such as Bhutto’s role in the mysterious plane crash that killed the military dictator responsible for her father’s murder. Despite herself, and for all her efforts toward reconciliation, Bhutto proved an enormously polarizing figure.

    Perhaps she had no choice, in a country so riven by internal strife and external threat. At its best, Bhutto is a fascinating study in the difficulties of bringing democracy to a radically unstable nation plagued by its colonial legacy, by the cowboy politics of a dictatorial military, by daily terrorism and the sporadic interventions of world powers arguably less interested in rural voting rights than in pushing their own interests on the global stage.

    Bhutto’s untimely death at 54 years old was a private tragedy and a tremendous loss for a country desperate for moderate leadership. But she was a heroine, not a saint. Eliding this distinction, Bhutto unwittingly diminishes her.

  4. EXCELLENT post, awesome work keep it up !

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