What Will People Say


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

What Will People Say
"Iram Haq's second feature has its own dynamic and a powerful authenticity that avoids ex-colonial prejudice."

Immigrants have their own rules, often dictated by religion, but not this time. Nisha is a teenager living in Oslo with her Pakistani family. Her dad and brother run a successful business. She has friends; she likes parties; she's texting all the time on her phone.

So? Where's the difference?

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Sex, for one thing. In the strict culture of her parents and grandparents girls are not allowed to even think about such a thing. Marriages are either shotgun or arranged. Family honour matters more than a daughter's feelings.

When a boy she danced with in the club climbs through her window at one in the morning and is caught by her father all hell breaks loose. Nisha is told to marry the boy at once before people find out. She refuses because this was an innocent flirtation that never had the chance to evolve into anything worse than a one night sit.

As the film's title suggests it's not what you do that matters, it's what it looks like you did that does. Nisha is forced back to Islamabad and virtually imprisoned by her relatives. She has to learn how to behave in what to her is a foreign country. She has been used to the freedom of a sophisticated way of living - Nodic Blanc - and this now feels like something medieval.

Despite what may seem like a tabloid headline of kidnap and slavery Iram Haq's second feature has its own dynamic and a powerful authenticity that avoids ex-colonial prejudice. The situation is open to ignorance, cliche and stereotypical abuse of a woman in a male society.

The film is better by far. Maria Mozhdah's performance as Nisha has an understanding that carries the audience into a deeper, darker place while retaining an essence of beauty which, in character, makes her vulnerable. Equally strong is Adil Hussain as Nisha's father whose love is shredded by his duty as head of the family and the need to retain status in the community.

They are trapped, both of them, by tradition and fear. It hurts. But it hurts good.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2018
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Sixteen-year-old Nisha lives a double life.

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