The movie is available on Netflix.
Iram Haq, a Norwegian actress/director with Pakistani roots came up with the movie ‘What will people say’ through her own life experiences. The movie revolves around the theme that revolves in the minds of most people living in orthodox society like India and Pakistan where the fear of ‘log kya kahenge’ is often bigger than a person’s desires and wishes. The movie shows the duality of sixteen-year-old Nisha’s life who is trying to play the role of a perfect Pakistani daughter while adjusting as a Norwegian teenager among friends.
She is already managing with the difficult scenario of her life by sneaking out to party with her friends at night and yet being back in her bed before her father checks on her. The way the story unfolds is what makes it so moving. The way Mirza, Nisha’s father dotes on her as if she is his life and yet when he finds Nisha’s boyfriend in her room, all hell breaks loose.
The disparity in the two cultures is portrayed perfectly in the scene when Mirza is beating Nisha’s boyfriend. To a person of orthodox mentality, violence as a way of maintaining control over a person is completely justified. After all, it is what any father would do to protect the ‘honour’ of her daughter.
The scene where Mirza says, “You have had sex. You must marry him” and Nisha responds by mentioning, “Daniel and I broke up” shows the different kind of ideologies the characters hold. Nisha who repeatedly tries to convince her father that she has not had sex with Daniel, all to no avail, does not realise what exactly she did wrong. With ’making out’ not even being a concept in the mind of old school Mirza, it is an everyday reality for Nisha’s friends. Things fall into a dystopian world, a dystopia which women live through even in today’s century when Mirza resorts to extreme measures of kidnapping her daughter and sending her to live with her relatives in Pakistan. The entire attempt is of trying to instil that mentality in young Nisha’s mind, to make her more conservative than liberal and to teach her how ‘girls should behave’. To think that Iram Haq, the director actually went through all this is appalling. But in today’s time when honour killings and rapes are rising just as fast as the wave of feminism, such clashes are inevitable.
The movie had many other scenes that chill one to the bone and it is not because everything is thrilling but because it resonates true in the mind of every female who has belonged to such a family and faced parental pressure, societal control as an everyday occurrence. The thing that makes this movie special is the acting of Adil Hussain as Mirza and Mariah Mozhdah as Nisha. They bring the characters to life and make the entire thing even more believable. The reason why this movie should be on everyone’s watchlist is simple. It raises up a mirror to the wretched face of society and shows it its flaws. The camerawork of the movie is done quite creatively and the scenes from Pakistan are actually shot in India, mostly in Rajasthan. They created a perfect premise for the shift in the environment as faced by the protagonist. The end, however, seems abrupt and yet it fits with the flow of the movie.