Director: Zakariya Mohammed
Producers: Aashiq Abu, Jesna Ashim, Harshad Ali
Genre: Comedy Drama
Release Date: 15th October 2020
Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Star Cast: Indrajith Sukumaran, Joju George, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Grace Antony, Soubin Shahir, Sharaf U Dheen, Abhiram Pothuval, Nazar Karutheny, Mamukkoya, Seenath, Sidheek Kodiyathur, Saheer Mohammed
The movie revolves around an Islamic community in Kerala, which has love towards art and hence they decide to make a movie. Thoufeeq (Sharaf U Dheen), a deeply religious man who has dreams of being an actor, gets cast as the male lead, with his wife Suhara (Grace Antony) being forced to act as his wife in the film too, so that the halal laws are not broken. They hire filmmaker Siraj (Joju George) to shoot the film, who must adhere to the boundaries set by Taufeeq (Sharaf U Dheen)’s ‘Halal’ script. The rest of the film is all about how Thoufeeq and Suhara make the movie.
Beginning with a picture of the 9/11 attack in the US, which led to widespread Islamophobia. Zakariya, has co-written with Muhsin Parari, has used the main ideology behind the attack meticulously. But Zakariya doesn't take his camera across the globe to document this. His stories are small, his characters are ordinary, and his landscapes are familiar.
The film has Rahim (Nazar Karutheny), a conscientious member of a 'progressive, social' Muslim organisation - they're anti-America and anti-George Bush, they're anti-capitalism but not anti-captitalists and their art is halal.
The film’s intentions can be sniffed out as entirely halal ('lawful' according to Islamic laws) and not get into the haram. Joju George as the frustrated Siraj is mind numbingly hilarious in nearly every shot. Soubin makes a superb cameo as a production sound mixer and his comic timing is flawless too!
The interesting aspect of the film is that there are no ‘oh-so’ dramatic tragic scenes, no sudden turbulences. The story has its own pace and runs accordingly. The conflict is true to life and completely believable. The camera work is extremely impressive; focusing on shifting expressions and gestures rather than high adrenaline filled dialogues to convey emotions.
This screenplay has the ability to tell a very human story touching on a number of issues without high drama or heart beating ups and downs on screen. There is a moral compass within the film, a right and a wrong, but his characters find their redemption in such natural and humane way that it makes them relatable and not hate-worthy for their mistakes.
The women characters shine in this film. Unnimaya Prasad and Parvathy have brief but well-defined roles. They are not merely decorative and add meaning to the narrative. The rest of the supporting cast, like Sharaf U Dheen's Thoufeeq too, have little character arcs but are never dull.
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. That is the most appreciative part of the film; it is not binary, doesn’t limit to showing the stereotypical two sides of a religion. It certainly is a must-watch!