“Without Shepards” — A Nation’s Rebirth
In a span of an hour and half, I wept, felt sorrow, helplessness, redemption, inspiration, hope, dreams, vision, and rebirth of Pakistan in the making.
Directed by Cary McCelland, and filmed over two years by a team of Pakistanis and Americans, Without Shepards is a documentary of 6 strangers struggling for their own meaning of Pakistan. A sufi rocker, a female journalist behind Taliban lines, a truck drive, a mujahid in search of redemption, a cricketer trying to save his country, a fashion model leading the charge for women — we are taken on a criss-crossed journey that envelopes 6 different stories about people ,who in their way, are seeking a better tomorrow in a turbulent today. I won’t tell you, or narrate for you what the doucmentary shows but I will share with you of what I felt when the credits rolled at the end.
I saw a nation’s struggle in their stories. I saw a nation’s desire to be achieve. I saw a nation’s desire to dream for a peaceful, progressive existence. I saw a nation’s rebirth in the making. What I saw was hope that things can be better; they will be better. What I saw was ordinary Pakistanis struggle for what they believe in, for what they dream Pakistan should be, could be. I saw the scars of an incompetent and selfish leadership with nothing more than a drive to fullfill their own twisted dreams has done to this nation.
I fully expected that after watching this documentary, I would feel sorry for my Pakistan. I thought I would feel depressed for my Pakistan. I thought I would get to reaffirm my bias of a broken state, constantly at the verge of collapse. I thought I would see dirt paths, a boulevard of broken dreams. But no, what I saw was moving, mesmerizing, heart warming and inspiring.
Narrated by Arieb Azhar, our stories Sufi rocker, his words and Bulleh Shah’s verses, our constant companions on this jounery lifted my spirits. I saw a nation who has realized to achieve you must first dream, and after you waken, turn day and night into the pursuit of that dream. I saw hope that somewhere in that child refuge there is a wish to be an engineer, a doctor, a cricketer. I saw the only wish a parent has for his or her children, a better tomorrow, the one they could not live. I saw a leader who for once has risen not for his sake but for the poor, the middle class, helpless folks struggling to make due. I saw inspiration in the words of those Sufi Saints gone long ago from this earth, yet still ever present in their words they left behind for us. Lanterns on a dark and lonely road of life.
Don’t watch this documentary for the sake of understanding where Pakistan has come from, where it began, but rather where it is going, where it wants to go. A whole new generation has risen, and they want to see Pakistan rise. They want to see a nation reborn, a phoenix from the ashes, a dream finally realized… a peaceful home.