28 November 2018 | CinemaClown
A Tense & Moving Tale About Women's Rights, Cultural Clashes & Familial Duties
Tragic, heartbreaking & a tad too relatable, What Will People Say packs a premise that will strike a much deeper chord with desi audience, for the depicted culture & way of life in this story mirrors that of our own, especially the part where women are expected to prioritise family image over own choices and live as per societal expectations.
The story follows a young Pakistani teenager in Norway who tries to balance the cultures of both countries as best as she could. Her life turns upside down when her father catches her with a boy in her room and, in order to set an example & escape the judgment of their peers, send her to a small Pakistani town to live with their extended relatives.
Written & directed by Iram Haq, the story handles its provocative subject matter with honesty as Haq leaves no stone unturned to illustrate the age-old beliefs & customs that families in these demographics still adhere to but Haq shows these absurd social restraints as they are instead of condemning them outright due to which the plot as a whole doesn't pack a strong enough punch.
However, the real highlight of this picture is Maria Mozhdah whose emotionally resonant performance makes her a sublime discovery. Her rendition is so genuine, her character arc is so lifelike and her expressions are so spot-on that we are on board with her from the start and could relate to what she's feeling at any given time. The rest chip in with good support but it is Mozhdah who steals the show.
On an overall scale, What Will People Say is a tense, absorbing & moving story about women's rights, cultural clashes & familial duties that presents Iram Haq taking a leaflet out of her own life to deliver a semi-autobiographical account that's sensibly directed, finely scripted & brilliantly acted. Led by an astounding debut performance, this Norwegian drama with desi roots is one of the better films of the year and comes strongly recommended.