Writer & Director
(I AM YOURS)
Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Ekavali Khanna and Sheeba Chaddha
Writer and director Iram Haq‘s semi-autobiographical drama WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? is about a sixteen year-old girl named Nisha (feature film debut of lead actor Maria Mozhdah, pictured below) who is forced to live a double life. At her family home in Norway, she reluctantly honours the traditional values of her Pakistani emigrant parents, father Mirza (Adil Hussain from LIFE OF PI) and mother, Najma (VEERE DI WEDDING actress Ekavali Khanna). Socially, Nisha is herself, a regular Norwegian teen who enjoys the contemporary westernised lifestyle and the company of her friends, one of whom is showing an interest of a more intimate nature towards her. Nisha welcomes the advances of the young man, with the mutual flirtation soon leading to the chance of their first physical encounter. When Nisha’s father sees them together, his instant disapproval and exaggerated assumptions lead to drastic actions that will tragically change Nisha’s life forever.
A co-production of Norway, Sweden and Germany and spoken in Norwegian and Urdu, WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? has something itself to powerfully say about people who forcibly trap and aim to control the actions of others, and the person they want them to be, yet will never become. And it’s not subtle in its representation of just that happening either! Taking into account the fact that this is a very personal film for writer & director Iram Haq to make, there is undoubtedly an inspirational story behind the heavy and heartbreaking one we see in WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? that ultimately could have led to this good film being a great one. Nonetheless, many who do watch this movie will have their own connecting personal experience and be immediately drawn into this mightily absorbing story and profoundly resonate with its lead character.
Before Nisha’s two worlds collide, the film importantly establishes the foundations of both lives, granting us an understanding of their stark contrasts so that we also know who the real Nisha is. Once Mirza has become aware of his daughter’s secret life, things are sadly about to go from bad to much worse for our female protagonist. This scene, and the several minutes that follow are absolutely gripping to watch. Now, heed the following as necessary viewing preparation, as this is not intended to deter your interest to this film. Without revealing any specific plot details, the remainder of WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? is harrowing to watch. All of the emphasis is continuously placed onto the horribly oppressive actions of the films perpetrators and the consequential suffering of the victims. Though it is absolutely warranted, there must be a source of strength, discernible resilience and some form of hope present to encourage Nisha’s survival and to also enable viewers those same hopes. Other than the occasional distraction from the hardship endured and the sheer hopelessness that is cast, Iram Haq doesn’t make any of these pivotal characteristics evident. Furthermore, her young protagonist has had significant alterations made to her existence that surely would have a greater psychological affect than what the script contains. More depth and development in these areas could only have strengthened an already powerful story.
Again, without mentioning specifics and to give you necessary advanced awareness, the ending arrives quite abruptly and could definitely have added even just a few additional scenes to leave viewers feeling more assured and lift some of the anger, pity and sadness felt for much of its length. Nevertheless, this is one foreign film with universal themes that ought to appeal to the masses worldwide, and whose story is so convincingly acted and always remains utterly absorbing.
Moviedoc thanks Palace, the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival and Asha Holmes Publicity for the invite to the screening of this film