Disclaimer: This film was sent for me to review personally by the director, but this is no way influences my opinion or score of the film.

Purdah (2018) is an indie documentary which still sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Jeremy Guy, this is his first feature-length film and his third documentary that he has directed. Focusing on a young Muslim girl named Kaikasha, this documentary follows her on a journey to trying out for an all-female cricket team, as well as the struggles that go on in her family life.

Purdah (2018) - source: Indie Rights
Purdah (2018) - source: Indie Rights

When I received this film to review, it was a quote from a review, "a real-life Bend it Like Beckham" that sold me on the project. This is a great subject matter for a documentary, and one that educated me a lot of Muslim culture and living in a place like Mumbai, India. There is definitely a purpose for this documentary, and one that earns a place in cinema for sure.

What helps drive the documentary are the three leading ladies, Kaikasha and her sisters Saba and Heena. They are extremely likeable and you can see the passion that they have in all of their individual interests, which leads the audience to end up cheering for these characters throughout the film. I think if there was only one lead, the film could have dragged on and lost importance, but there is a nice balance between the three characters and that leads to a balanced and well paced film.

Unlike a lot of documentaries, which only focuses on one moment of time or purely telling a story of the past, this documentary feels like it fits into a fictional film's narrative structure. It starts off by setting up the characters and the story, then there is progression throughout the film that sets a goal for the characters to reach, in this case making the all-female cricket team. At the end, there is a jump in time and the audience gets to see the aftermath of the events. It is compelling and makes the film feel even more relevant.

Purdah (2018) - source: Indie Rights
Purdah (2018) - source: Indie Rights

The director found a nice balance between the several storylines that are told in this film, but particularly between the cricket storyline and the Muslim aspects of the film. As someone who has little knowledge on both subject matters, I found both to be equally educational. Culture is such a big part of films, particularly in documentaries, and capturing culture like this feels honest yet respectful, not going down a discriminating or distasteful route to the Muslim community. 

I do think the documentary runs out of things to say about the cricket aspect by the end of the film, and that is because the last twenty minutes focuses on another sister, Heena, and her situation. Whilst this story feels like the most important story in terms of culture awareness and religion, it almost feels out of place tonally in comparison to the rest of the film. I would have liked a more gradual way to get to this section of the documentary, but regardless I am glad that it is still in there and brought to our attention.

As a film that is pitched as a film about a girl playing cricket, the shots of her on the pitch are some of my favourite moments in the film. However, there feels like there is not enough moments of Kaikasha practicing and playing the sport. This film has family members and friends talking about how good she is at the sport, but I think it would have been more effective if they were paired with more excellent plays from her to show as well as tell.

Purdah (2018) - source: Indie Rights
Purdah (2018) - source: Indie Rights

This is an incredibly important documentary from Jeremy Guy and one that I encourage other people to watch as soon as they can. It is a short feature film at only 71 minutes, but one that never feels dull or repetitive at any point. Even if I wanted a bit more out of the main subject matter, I am incredibly pleased with the final product that is presented here.

4/5

Purdah (2018) is now available to watch on Amazon Prime, and you can do so by clicking here.

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