Film Review: ‘What Will People Say’ tells the conflicted story of a teenage girl in a globalized world

A still from the film "What will people say." (Supplied)
Updated 24 December 2018
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Film Review: ‘What Will People Say’ tells the conflicted story of a teenage girl in a globalized world

  • “What Will People Say” is Norway’s offering for the 2019 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar
  • It underlines the dilemma that some immigrant parents face while trying to insulate their daughters from a stereotypically Western way of life

CHENNAI: Films that tell a personal story can often be more powerful and moving then their fictionalized counterparts and director Iram Haq, whose Pakistani parents raised her in Oslo, weaves her own dreadful experiences into “What Will People Say” — Norway’s offering for the 2019 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Although the film missed out on being shortlisted for the award, it is nonetheless a powerful piece of cinema.

“What Will People Say” underlines the dilemma that some immigrant parents face while trying to insulate their daughters from a stereotypically Western way of life, which the elders label as debauched.

Nisha (an arresting performance by newcomer Maria Mozhdah, who proves to be the soul and spirit of the movie) is an intelligent and attractive teenager, who aspires to be a medical doctor and tops her class. She speaks Urdu and follows her native culture and mannerisms at home, but once she steps out of the house, she is no different from other Norwegian children. Nisha loves to dance at nightclubs and is interested in boys. But she keeps all this a secret from her parents, especially her extremely rigid father, Mirza (an excellent performance by Indian actor Adil Hussain). But one night, he finds her with a white boy in her room, and all hell breaks loose. She is quickly packed off to a remote village in Pakistan and looked after by a strict, almost cruel aunt and uncle.

Haq may have fictionalized parts of the story, but she, much like Nisha, did have a torturous year in Pakistan and was estranged from her father for a long time, making up with him just before he died. Haq said in one of her interviews that it took her years to come out with her story, which emphasizes in no small way the agony that kids of immigrants face. In extreme cases, fathers murder their own daughters in the name of honor, driven to such crimes over worries over what people will say.


Jeddah's Kanz Al-Balad, Al-Ozwa Street Performance enthrall visitors

Updated 16 June 2019
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Jeddah's Kanz Al-Balad, Al-Ozwa Street Performance enthrall visitors

  • Kanz Al-Balad takes visitors on a historical journey through Jeddah’s Al-Balad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Al-Ozwa Street Performance is an interactive play about a young man who is preparing for his engagement ceremony

JEDDAH: The 40-day Jeddah Season festival is currently underway, with the launch of a schedule of international shows and plays being presented for the first time in Saudi Arabia.

The festival, which began on June 8 and runs until July 18, forms part of a major drive to boost tourism in the Kingdom.

Most of the festival’s events are taking place at King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah’s historical area, Al-Hamra Corniche and the Jeddah Waterfront.

Among the events is the Kanz Al-Balad scavenger hunt for families and children, with 41 shows lined up for the duration of the festival. 

Kanz Al-Balad is organized daily at Bab Jadeed from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and is aimed at helping participants learn more about Jeddah, interact with businesses, and improve their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Participants are split into teams, and are tasked with finding hidden objects or places with the help of clues.

Kanz Al-Balad takes visitors on a historical journey through Jeddah’s Al-Balad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For comedy and history lovers, Al-Ozwa Street Performance is a must. There are four 45-minute shows daily until the end of the festival.

The interactive play, set 100 years ago, is about a young man named Omar who is preparing for his engagement ceremony, and encounters a dilemma unrelated to his engagement.

He needs the audience’s help to get him out of the trouble he is in, and to have a problem-free engagement ceremony. Show timings are 6:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:45 p.m. and 10 p. m.

Raed Abuzinada, general supervisor of Jeddah Season, said the festival is part of a national initiative to promote the tourism sector, which is a major contributor to the Saudi economy.

Visitors buying tickets online for any of the festival’s events can secure an e-tourism visa at the same time, he added. The visa will be issued within three minutes, he said. Details are at www.sharek.com.sa.