Don’t Ask Why

By Sabiha Sumar
58 min., 1999

Anousheh lives with her strict Muslim parents and two brothers in Karachi, Pakistan. At 17, she is at an age where daughters are usually married off. But Anousheh wants to study and refuses to accept the restrictions her religion and culture have imposed on her personal freedom. It causes conflict with her mother and lengthy discussions with her father. Her desire to be ‘as free as her brothers’ is drawing her close to the Islamic political party, Jamaat-i-Islami which, although dominated by men, promises the liberating power of Islam for both men and women. The film, by Sabiha Sumar, one of the few independent filmmakers in Pakistan, follows Anousheh as she struggles to realize her dreams and cope with her share of disappointment. It is a beautifully realized and rare portrait of girls in South Asia and their relationship to Islam at the beginning of the 21st century.