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Updated: July 7, 2012 16:19 IST

Tough call

Anita Joshua
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Director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy . Photo: PTI
The Hindu
Director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy . Photo: PTI

Oscar-winning film-maker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has not allowed negative campaigns to cloud her attitude.

Ever since documentary film-maker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy put Pakistan among the Oscars for the first time this February, she has been battling controversy. First off the block was the right-wing lobby who accused her of portraying Pakistan in a poor light because she had focused on acid attack victims. Their charge against her was that the film was just another piece of anti-Pakistan propaganda doled out by those subscribing to the West’s agenda to vilify this country and its people.

Then came the spot of bother arising out of HBO’s plans to screen the film in Pakistan. Acid Survivors Pakistan —the organisation through which she accessed some of the victims — and one of the women featured in the film, Ruksana, moved the courts against the screening of the film in the country on the premise that it would endanger the lives of the victims who had agreed to speak to the film-maker.

Familiar with the ground realities of her country — in effect, the sub-continent — Sharmeen obliged. But Sharmeen’s problems arising out of her Oscar-winner Saving Face did not end. Now, Ruksana has accused Sharmeen of reneging on the promise to compensate with a house, money and reconstructive surgery for appearing before camera.

Sharmeen maintains that Ruksana’s husband — who had thrown acid on her — and his family are coercing the hapless woman to level these charges. Battling negative campaign against her on social networking websites, the film-maker pointed out that none of those pointing the accusing finger against her was willing to come up and help Ruksana.

As for the charges against her, Sharmeen said no such offer was made. In fact, according to her, Ruksana had even refused to accept the offer of surgery made by the U.K.-based organisation, Islamic Help, which also identified a house for her after some international donors came up with money to rehabilitate the victim. In a statement Islamic Help confirmed both developments.

For her part, Sharmeen has not allowed these allegations to cloud her attitude towards Ruksana. She believes Ruksana is still a victim — of circumstances possibly — and needs all the help that she can get.

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