BHUTTO is the definitive documentary that chronicles the life of one of the most complex and fascinating characters of our time. Hers is an epic tale of Shakespearean dimension. It’s the story of the first woman in history to lead a Muslim nation: Pakistan. –Synopsis from the film’s website
Duane Baughman and Johnny O’Hara’s 2010 documentary Bhutto, which recently aired on PBS’s Independent Lens in the United States, attempts to portray the “Shakespearean” life of Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto in a two-hour-long film. The film intersperses interviews with her family members, journalists, friends, and political acquaintances alongside audio and video news clips and interviews with Benazir herself to narrate the story of Pakistan’s history and her rise to power.
Both the publicizing of the film and the film itself emphasize the underlying Orientalist theme that Muslim women “didn’t matter” (see the film’s trailer) in Pakistan, and that Benazir represented an exception to this. After a brief background on Pakistan’s political history and current country fact snapshots, Benazir describes her mother’s response to her birth:
My mother says nobody came to see her for three days when I was born because they were all in mourning that a girl had been born.
I found the interview snippets with Bhutto herself that were included in the film to be most compelling. Hearing in her own words, the film portrays her ambition to succeed as both a politician and as a woman in a couple of formative instances in her life was shaped by exchanges with her father:
I am what I am because I am Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter…It was my father who was against gender constraints of my time.