Movie that infuriated me the most

Movie watching is not just a simple entertainment stuff, as many believe. It is a completely immersive experience with a story, fictional or original. For me personally, many movies have been there, while watching whom I underwent extreme forms of emotions. One such movie out on my bucket list is the Norweigian-Urdu movie ‘What Will People Say’. Yes, that’s the name. And the movie actually revolves around its literal meaning “Log Kya Kahenge”. I don’t remember feeling as angry while watching a movie, as much as I felt in this. In this Blog, I will list out some remarkable points from the movie that make it so special and a captivating watch indeed.


The movie tells the story of Nisha, a girl of Pakistani origin living in Norway. She is living a completely two-faced life with her parents and elder brother. While she is a modern girl with her friends, she turns into an orthodox girl at home, for her strict and conservative family. She isn’t interested in household chores and often sneaks out of her room to party with her Norwegian friends. Her parents have deep Pakistani roots. While her father (Mirza) always thinking about the money that is to be sent back home, her mother is completely immersed in work as a housewife, and her SPINELESS brother studies for a doctor and assists his father in managing finances (there is a reason I called him that). There is a scene when Nisha’s mother tells her husband that no one thinks of sending money to her parents, showing a glimpse of patriarchal and misogynist society.

Now, comes a twist in the movie, when Nisha’s boyfriend (Daniel) slips over to her place at night (of course hidily). While the two are romancing in Nisha’s room, Daniel’s phone rings, and does so at the fullest volume. By the time, they could have stopped the phone ring, Mirza barges into her room. Completely bewildered looking at the two, he smashes Daniel hard after pushing Nisha aside, who couldn’t help except plead. However, the country being a ‘developed’ Norway, and not some India or Pakistan, this action brought Nisha to childcare with full government support. Her father, on the other hand, accuses her of having sex with Daniel and refuses to take her back home unless she marries him. But, Nisha being innocent and unaware of her parents’ real intentions comes back after her mother asks her to, thinking that everything will be all right.

  A still from the movie, when Nisha is at an alien place in Pakistan (Photo: Film Comment)

Now, awaited a hell of a journey for Nisha. Taking the suggestions of his super conservative ‘Pakistani origin’ friends — who expressed concern about the eroding of their “culture” — Mirza decides to send her daughter to Pakistan for upbringing. This was a complete overhaul of Nisha in her life. Among a super-conservative uncle-aunt, grandmom, and two friendly cousins (brother and sister), she remains sad and reserved. Eight months later, Nisha becomes the perfect Pakistani daughter, serious at school, wearing a headscarf as well as a nose piercing. However, the two cousins of hers, give her some breath of calm. They eat together, fly kites, and stroll through the fest.

Slowly, Nisha and her cousin brother Amir start developing feelings for each other. One night, they are caught making love by the police and are handed back to the family after “excess harassment”. The family immediately calls Mirza back from Norway asking him to take Nisha away. While returning, Mirza even orders Nisha to jump off the cliff to get rid of her. But after coming back to Norway, he and his family (especially the SPINELESS brother) try to arrange a marriage for her. In a very heartbreaking scene, the family arranges a proposal for Nisha (without even asking her of course), after which she will just remain a housewife and her studies and career will go downhill.

Iram Haq making a film about how she was kidnapped by her own parents -  Cineuropa

Director Iram Haq with protagonist Maria Mozhdah on the sets of ‘What Will People Say’ (Photo: Cineuropa)


‘What Will People Say’ is directed by Iram Haq, who is herself a Pakistani-Norweigian filmmaker. The film actually is semi-autobiographical, as it is based on an episode from Haq’s own life. She herself admitted that like Nisha’s character, she was also ‘kidnapped’ from Norway and sent to her father’s home in Pakistan after some people doubted her modesty. In Haq’s own words, the movie is an “intense, beautiful and painful story about growing up between two cultures”.

Now, coming to her direction, it is nothing short of brilliant. She literally compels the audience to feel the emotional and exploitative journey that is happening on screen. She has kept the focus on Nisha, and throughout the course of the movie, never for once, you are in a position not to sympathise with her. Her set design and locations are also very pertinent, as one should know the movie was actually shot in Rajasthan, while giving all the aesthetics of Pakistan. Also, a very prominent part of her direction is that, despite all the emotional hardships, she has kept the movie a captivating ‘thriller’, leaving the audience with a sense of suspense throughout.

What Will People Say': Toronto Review | Reviews | Screen

Maria Mozhdah in a still from ‘What Will People Say’ (Photo: Screen Daily)


The standout performance in ‘What Will People Say’ is of course that of the protagonist, Maria Mozdhdah. She being a Norwegian girl — but with parents of Pakistani immigrants — just seems the perfect fit for the role, throughout. Her searing portrayal of Nisha is so intense and visceral, that you never for once are able to lessen your anger (against the atrocities). This was one of those roles, which completely explores you as an actor. Mozhdah, Mozhdah rising up to the challenge, captures all the shades of Nisha’s character — the immature girl, the dutiful yet betrayed daughter, a confused teenager, a rebel at times, and emotionally vulnerable. The best thing about her portrayal was getting the ascent right, you never for once doubt that she is a Norwegian girl of Pakistani origin.

There are several other top performances too in the movie. Adil Hussain who portrays Nisha’s father, has portrayed a complex character very well, so many might find him “inconsistent”, but actually he has done a very fine job. Seema Chadha, as Nisha’s aunt, Ekavali Khanna as her mother, Rohit Saraf as Amir (his cousin and love interest), and all other small characters have given nice performances.  Overall, the movie has enough dose of solid performances to make you believe in Nisha’s ‘haunted life’.

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One of the most infuriating and traumatic sequence from the movie (Photo: Cinema Express)

The Infuriating Scenes

The most infuriating scene for me is when Nisha and Amir are caught while making love outside at night. Some creepy and pathetic police officers, violently harass and exploit them, forcing Nisha to strip her kurta, and then also her bra. Amir keeps on crying for her not to, but she doesn’t have much of an option. The scene further infuriates me when the pathetic officer asks Amir to suck Nisha’s breasts. Throughout the course of this, the officers keep on filming the two of them. Eventually, they take Nisha and Amir to their house and extort money on the condition of not putting the videos online.

The other sequence which infuriates me as hell is divided in parts. Firstly, I started hating Mirza from the very moment he hit Nisha’s boyfriend and entered her room. After that, his every attempt to send her off to Pakistan feels like a painful injection. Whether it is the sequence when Mirza and his son literally kidnap her daughter and take her in the car, or the time when Mirza is taking Nisha to the airport, asking her to be quiet. All that while, I kept on craving, why is she not shouting or calling for help. I literally wanted Mirza to be thrashed and behind bars too if possible. I also hated her mother (gone case anyway) and brother Asif, for not standing for her own sister.

Film of the Week: What Will People Say

A romantic still from the movie (Photo: Film Comment)

The Cultural Dilemma

‘What Will People Say’ has very effectively portrayed the cultural dilemma faced by immigrants, especially from the Asians and the sub-continent. The immigrant families that raise their children in foreign cultures, smother them with their tradition and yet are always consumed by the fear of their culture and modesty being outraged. As in one sequence, Nisha’s mother tells her that people don’t call them in marriages and other functions, because of the “bad name” she has brought to the family. And the other sequence, when Mirza is given so much schooling by his Pakistani friends, as if her daughter has committed a crime.

The other thing, ‘What Will People Say’ portrays is the dilemma and awkward situation faced by children, and the younger generation who are brought up in two different cultures, amid a lot of insecurity. While, the family which is living far from their family is somehow trying to keep their culture alive, their anxiety is getting passed on to the children, who have absolutely no idea of what is happening and why.

What Will People Say?

Well…while I conclude this Blog, I can’t help but heap praise on the choice of the title…’What Will People’. Throughout our lives, how much time we spend being stuck in the dilemma of what will people say to this, to that, to our dress, to our face, to even our choices. The movie has presented a very powerful and effective case study of this ‘What Will People Say’ Syndrome, showing the “oppression” young women (even men in some instances) face at their homes. It shows how at times, the love, the family, that we talk about, itself becomes some form of bondage.

As I said multiple times, this movie is indeed a very special one for me. Whenever someone asks for 5-10 movie suggestions, ‘What Will People Say’ always makes up to the list. I reiterate this is the most infuriating, emotionally exploiting experience that I have ever undergone watching a movie. On the part of Iram Haq, it needed a lot of courage and guts to present her personal experience in the form of such a captivating movie, and on the part of Maria Mozhdah too, it was a stellar performance and I would love to see her in more projects. Finally, I would extend my words of praise to the entire team and also strongly recommend you all to watch the movie and share your experience in the comments.

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