“You are our daughter now.” Sixteen year old Nisha nearly brought shame and ruin upon her family. Her traditional Pakistani father caught her cuddling in bed with her boyfriend in the middle of the night. In retaliation she is kidnapped by her parents and sent to live with her father’s brother’s family in Pakistan. Her passport burned, living in a foreign country with strange new rules to live by, Nisha is forced to adapt and understand the world from which her parents come.
The trailer for What Will People Say leaves one speechless. Tears well in my eyes as I type this. As a caucasian girl born in America I cannot begin to grasp the culture or ideas that are presented before me. A girl is kidnapped by her parents and sent to live with relatives in a foreign country. Our natural instincts cry out “cruelty!” or “child abuse!” but what we do not understand is that sometimes the fierce desire to protect one’s child, leads parents to make unfortunate decisions. The film is attempting to honestly depict a situation that is heartbreaking for all parties; parent and child. What Will People Say requires viewers to leave any narrow ethnocentric beliefs at the door, and to embrace an understanding of just one of the multitudes of cultures that surround them. The beliefs of a traditionalist Pakistani family are vastly different then those held by most white American audiences. This is a film that intends to explore the good, the bad and the ugly of a not-often examined culture, except in a negative stereotypical way.
The film is directed by Iram Haq and is based on her own experiences with her family. Haq is a newcomer and has only one film before that was aired at the Toronto Film Festival titled I am yours. She is a Norwegian-Pakistani woman and has a wikipedia page that could fit on a coffee coaster. From the little bit of information that I can find on her, she hopes to work to help to achieve a bright future for women and immigrants. Hopefully the release of What will people say? will rightfully launch her into the limelight. Please watch the trailer for What Will People Say? with an open mind and an open heart.