Director: Iram Haq | 106 minutes | drama | Actors: Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Ekavali Khanna, Rohit Saraf, Ali Arfan, Sheeba Chaddha, Lalit Parimoo, Nokokure Dahl, Isak Lie Harr, Maria Bock, Sara Khorami, Jannat Zubair Rahmani, Freddy Singh, Trine Wiggen
With What Will People Say, director Iram Haq has translated her own experiences as a child into a film script. The character she based loosely on herself bears the name Nisha (Maria Mozhdah). The 16-year-old Pakistani lives with her family in Norway. At home she is the perfect Muslim daughter, but outdoors she is a typical rebellious Western teenager. One evening when her father catches her with a white boy in her room, her father goes crazy. He kidnaps her to Pakistan where she has to be “re-educated” with family. Totally alienated and struggling to trust someone after her father’s actions, she must find an attitude in dire situations.
“What Will People Say” shines a light on problems that can be difficult to imagine for Western culture. But the film makes this very easy to understand through realistic play (in particular by Mozhdah) and a script that includes a necessity. In fact, it is not surprising if you as an audience have a stone in your stomach. The film is very realistic and emotional. Especially if the culture is foreign to you, you can look at Nisha’s father (Adil Hussain) and the culture he stands for with an enormous feeling of hatred. Of course you also know that as a father he wants the best for his daughter. And that he acts from his own convictions and upbringing. All the questions that “What Will People Say” leaves unspoken cross your mind and after seeing this film there can be a lot of discussion.
What also makes “What Will People Say” a strong piece of craftsmanship are the many silences and beautiful camera angles to fill those silences with beautiful looks. The script is not completely boarded up with text. This means that as an audience you can fill in some thoughts of the characters yourself. The slogan “less is more” is once again proven in this film. Yet the intentions and plot are completely clear at all times.
What Will People Say is a very moving and realistic film. You feel the importance of the filmmaker and this gives the film an extra layer of urgency. For some viewers, this might be a bit tough to watch for two hours. But it is certainly an important film to watch and afterwards to discuss all the questions and emotions it raises.