The story of Malala Yousafzai to most people goes something like this, ‘The Pakistani teenage girl who became famous after the Taliban shot bullets at her, who later took up activism for women education and was chosen as the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize.’

The story would probably still be the same for most people because most people are not going to see the film ‘He Named Me Malala’ by David Guggenheim. I can tell you this because when I went to see the film this evening, I had one of those do-it-once-in-your-lifetime experiences – watch a film in an empty theatre. That’s right it was absolutely empty. I thought according to the theory of probability it was impossible to find an empty theatre at any point of time.

But if people did see the film, Malala’s story would be slightly different. The feature length documentary, which otherwise falls short in documenting enough information about the subject it has chosen, delves into the past of Malala. It tells us the story of who Malala was before she was shot.

Doing a feminist review of a film on Malala was a tricky thing. Malala hands down is a female icon, an inspiration for millions of girls around the world and yet she never identified herself as a feminist. Perhaps she was too young to identify herself with any sort of ism at all. She was just a brave kid who wanted to go to school.

So Malala’s story didn’t have a feminist narrative and I didn’t expect this film to have one either. But it is relevant on two major counts. Firstly, it shows us that Malala’s fight was about feminism after all; and secondly, it reflects upon the havoc that can be unleashed by religious extremism and dogmas.

Read the full review on Women’s Web.

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