Monday, July 28, 2008

Donkey in Lahore

The Scenario: skinny unprepossessing twenty-something Australian puppeteer and part-time goth Brian meets beautiful and vivacious sixteen-year-old Pakistani Amber after a puppet show in Lahore. Immediate attraction results and she suggests he marry her, which he agrees is a good idea. On returning to Australia, rather than dismiss the idea as youthful folly he sets about trying to make it happen and this film documents the process.

The process involves conversion to Islam, several trips to Pakistan, getting Amber's family onside using Amber's english-speaking brother-in-law as the intermediary, and doing battle with Australian immigration to get Amber a visa.The difficulties seem insurmountable at times and Brian (or Aamir as he becomes known) has to battle depression as well as everything else. Back in Lahore, Amber likewise finds her situation hard to cope with, particularly the shame of having a husband who seems unable to procure her a visa. His efforts to get her a visa are hampered by the distance and communication difficulties and at times were almost painful to watch.Brian's lack of paid employment exacerbates his difficulties.

Happily, there were definite humourous moments to counterbalance the angst and getting to see what life in Lahore is like was very interesting. I alternated between thinking Brian was a complete twit who was only taking on this enormous challenge because everyone thought he shouldn't and admiring him for his determination to get what he wanted. I was delighted and impressed that it all worked out in the end - because the odds were certainly stacked against that outcome.

The donkey of the title refers to a puppet Brian made and took with him, hoping to make a TV program called "the little donkeys of Lahore". (The donkey puppet was particularly charming and traveled between Queensland and Pakistan several times before taking up residence with Amber. When she gets her Australian visa she donates him to the local puppet museum.) I presume that thinking Donkey refers not just to the puppet but also to Brian is the intent.

Anne's rating 3/5

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