Halal Love Story Movie Review: A heart warming tale about human and humanityModified On: 15 October 2020 | Reviewed By: Saurabh S Nair
The film is directed by Sudani From Nigeria fame, Zakariya who has again comes up with an heartwarming story with simplicity filled with human emotions.
Cast: Indrajith, Joju George, Parvathy, Grace Antony, Sharaf-u-Dheen, Soubin Shahir
Director: Zakariya Mohammed
The previous film of Zakariya, Sudani from Nigeria was also a story about humanity towards people from a different country but also showcases the personal problems of the protagonist laced with religious, moral, and social intricacies of the Muslim community. Zakariya's latest venture Halal Love Story is also about a struggle to make a film by innocent people from a small town with their personal issues.
The story takes place in the small town of Malappuram, Kerala. An ancient Tv displays the attack of image 9/11 terrorist attack happened on the world trade centre USA, a voice over narrates the events, detailing the US's neo-imperialism and its dark history. The camera pans the shelved filled with Iranian films, wall stuck with flyers, news magazines and other paraphernalia, clearly hinting at the politics of cinema.
When the elderly Raheem suggests that a local organisation produces a crowdfunded telefilm for a cable channel on Eid, his idea is met with approval but also has to meet a set of restrictions. Thoufeek (a superbly nuanced Sharaf U Dheen), an orator, writer and scholar who screens “meaningful films” (think Children of Heaven) in schools, is called in to manage the venture. Thoufeek is also a pious Muslim, which is the trait that primarily helps him bag the coveted job. When he suggests Siraj (an excellent Jojo George), who is an associate director in mainstream movies, as the director, the club members are cynical—“Is he mainstream enough for this job?”
That is when Thoufeek points out that not only does Siraj not offer Namaz, he also drinks and smokes, which makes him legit mainstream. There are sly references to how it’s often Hindu directors who are counted as part of the ‘mainstream’ in Malayalam cinema. The scenes with the club members reconciling their cinematic ambitions with religious rules are a hoot—when they visit a bar to meet Siraj, a hassled Raheem wonders ‘what if I die here?’ When Thoufeek titles the film Moonamathum Umma, the director’s assistant is pleased—“Oh, a romantic film?”—only to be told that it is a tale around Prophet Muhammed.
Sharif (Indrajith, who seems a little lost), who does street plays and considers himself a competent actor, is waiting for an opportunity to enter the big screen. When the organisation insists on roping in only their own members to act in the film, Sharif gets a chance, provided his wife Suhara (a superb Grace Antony) agrees to act opposite him on screen. The writing flounders when the makers deliberately attempt to insert political points—the portion surrounding Sharif playing George Bush in a street play and Thoufeek’s reaction to him, for instance, And one felt an excessive slant towards underlying the religious subtext in the narrative, going overboard with spiritual greetings and mores.
Zakariya portrays political things in a subtle without throwing exposition through dialogue. Mainstream cinema has only had the Good Muslim or the Bad Muslim on offer. The Good Muslim is nationalistic, embraces other religions and doesn't talk back. The Bad Muslim is a terrorist filled with hate. In Zakariya's films though, you see that there are many ways of being Muslim; conservative believers, liberal believers, atheists, non-conformists and so on. Just as diverse as any other community.
This film's main USP is its performance from the cameo of Soubir Shaheen (maybe his third brilliant cameo after brief appearances in Kammattipadam, Maayanadi and now Halal Love Story.) to Joju George whose subtle performance stays with you.
But the real show-stealer is Suhara, played by the lovely Grace Antony her emotions and inner conflict was shown by her brilliantly.
Overall, Halal Love Story is a simple film with a strong message of humanity. A must-watch.
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