REVIEW: What People Will Say plays out like a modern day horror film – but it is so much more

Maria Mozhdah in What Will People Say.
Maria Mozhdah in What Will People Say.

WHILE there is no blood shed in What Will People Say, it plays out like a modern day horror film where women are still seen as objects to be oppressed.

Sixteen-year-old Nisha (Maria Mozhdah) is stuck between two worlds – the modern European world she has grown up in and her conservative Pakistan heritage.

Her parents are strict, so like any normal teenage girl she sneaks out at night to rebel and test her boundaries.

One night she brings a boy back into her room, but her father Mirza (Adil Hussain) catches them, flies into a fit of rage and beats the boy.

He then drags Nisha against her will to Pakistan to live with his sister and put her on the “straight and narrow”, but it is a culture shock and even more restrictive than her Norway home.

While some of the elements of What Will People Say are all too familiar (corrupt cops, arranged marriage), it is a tough watch as Nisha faces oppression from everyone in her family.

But it is to writer/director Iram Haq’s credit that she creates such an immersive experience with her unrelenting look at this stifling culture from a female perspective.

Haq wants her audience to feel as physically and emotionally trapped and claustrophobic as Nisha and millions of other girls and women like her.

Mozhdah is a knockout as Nisha; her heartbreaking performance is one to behold and deserving of award buzz.

What Will People Say is screening as part of the Scandinavian Film Festival at Cinema Paradiso from July 19 to August 1.

What Will People Say (M)

Directed by: Iram Haq

Starring: Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Rohit Saraf,

Four stars