Films with sensitive portrayals of Muslim dilemmas

Patriarchy in Muslim communities has been addressed by Muslim writers and filmmakers themselves. Here is a list of films that approach the problems more sensitively.
Last Updated : 05 July 2024, 21:08 IST

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A film should be able to address an issue without a larger political agenda.

Kamal Chandra’s ‘Hamaare Baarah’ fell into a controversy last month for portraying Muslims in a bad light. The film was banned by the Karnataka government and the Bombay High Court stayed the release, followed by a stay in the Supreme Court, for “incorrect depiction and a distorted interpretation of the Quran”. More than anything, the treatment of the film reeked of crude stereotyping.

Patriarchy in Muslim communities has been addressed by Muslim writers and filmmakers themselves. Here is a list of films that approach the problems more sensitively.

Hasina (2004)

Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli’s ‘Hasina’ is a poignant portrayal of the struggles a Muslim girl faces after being abandoned by her husband. She has three girls and is pregnant for the fourth time. After a sex determination test that shows it’s another girl, he turns abusive. The film is based on ‘Kari Nagaragalu’, a story by Kannada writer Banu Mushtaq.


Bol (2011)

Pakistani film ‘Bol’ is about the battles six sisters, an intersex brother and their mother have to face owing to their religious father’s desperate need for a male child. Directed by Shoaib Mansoor, the film ends with a question, ‘ jab khila nahi sakte toh paida kyun karte ho’. The film was critically acclaimed and a commercial success. ‘Bol’ was an initiative by PAIMAN (Pakistan Initiative for Mothers and Newborns), a maternal and child health project.

JioCinema, Prime Video, Apple TV

Dukhtar (2014)

A mother flees with her 10-year-old daughter when she hears her husband wants to get her married to an older tribal leader. Directed by Afia Nathaniel, ‘Dukhtar’ is a touching road film of a distressed mother’s desperate attempt to not let her daughter’s life be a repetition of hers. They soon realise a search party is after them. Who will come to their rescue? 

Apple TV

Munnudi (2000)

Based on Bolwar Mahammad Kunhi’s short story ‘Mutthuchera’, P Seshadri’s ‘Munnudi’ is set in coastal Karnataka. It discusses the misuse of the Sharia (Islamic law) by some Muslim men for their own benefit. Arabian traders who come to the village for trade marry young girls, spend time with them and when it was time to leave, divorce them. Since prostitution is illegal, the men use nikah and talaq to fulfill their desires.


Nikaah (1985)

B R Chopra’s ‘Nikaah’ is a social commentary on the Islamic law of triple talaq and its misuse by Muslim men in India. The film revolves around a love triangle. A man when in a heated argument divorces his wife through triple talaq. When he wants her back, the imam tells him the complexity of the Islamic law of nikah halala (where a woman after divorce must marry another man, consummate the union, then the second husband must divorce her for the first husband to be able to marry her again). 

Prime Video, Hotstar, Youtube

Other films:

‘What Will People Say’ (2017, Norwegian, Urdu / Prime Video), Biriyaani (2019, Malayalam / Xstream Play), ‘Capernaum’ (2018, Arabic, English/ Prime Video), ‘Secret Superstar’ (2017, Hindi / Youtube), ‘Holy Spider’ (2022, Persian / Youtube, Apple TV) and ‘The Interim Husband’ (1971, Persian).

Published 05 July 2024, 21:08 IST

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