Farha Khatun | India | 60min
Logline: In times of hatred and bigotry, loving becomes a political act. The film follows the life and loves of Nasreen as she goes about her seemingly ordinary life, interrogating how, in a country rife with communal tensions, even everyday mundane things too become acts of resistance, where simply making one’s own choices become acts of defiance.
Synopsis: Nasreen is an ordinary girl from Hospet (South India), who lives, loves, passionately, overwhelmingly. The film opens with her playful banter with a little girl, Alina. Alina is Nasreen’s elder sister’s daughter, whom Nasreen has adopted when her sister passed away. We see Nasreen going through an old photo album, her anxieties, and heart breaking attempt to protect Alina from the pain she suffered with the death of her sister. It was the unfairness of her sister’s death that had goaded Nasreen to train as an qazi (Islamic Cleric), to choose to become an activist. It is her love for Alina and her sister, that defined her journey, as she passionately devotes herself to activism. We follow Nasreen as she joins the qazi (Islamic Cleric) training program organized by an NGO, a territory that had so far been gatekept by men in the community. While exploring her political journey as an activist, the film also weaves in her personal journey – her relationship with her mother, her trials and tribulations with romance. The personal is therefore seamlessly weaved into the political as the film despite being the story of an everyday ordinary girl, delves into the unconventional choices she makes, choices that are deeply personal, deeply personal. We follow Nasreen’s story as she falls in love with someone outside the community. In a context where communal tensions in India are rising, love too becomes political. The film thus explores the politics of relationships, the politics of love in times of hatred and bigotry. It is in telling the story of the seemingly mundane life of a single woman who chooses to adopt a child, of a Muslim woman who challenges patriarchal norms in Muslim personal law and sets on a path to seek gender justice, and above all, of someone who transgresses the love laws that have been laid down for her – laws that dictate who should be loved, and how, and how much, that the film tells the story of our times.
Expected date of completion:
Gap Funding, Sales Agents and Distributors
Director’s Statement: This is a deeply personal film for me. Having grown up in a Muslim family in a remote area in West Bengal, I too have had to struggle to assert myself, to find my own voice, to stand up for my rights. Nasreen’s journey therefore resonates with me and several other Indian Muslim women who have had to fight both within and outside their community to find their footing. Furthermore, in a country that is becoming more and more polarised on religious lines, women’ s bodies have often become sites of battleground. There have been several cases of honour killing, hate crimes, mob lynching against those who have dissented, who have refused to toe the norms laid down by fundamentalist groups, and even those who have simply lived, loved, gone about their ways have become victims for just being who they are. Nasreen’s story in this context, is an entry point for me to tell everyday stories of oppression and resistance that have come to define our times. The very that in the current political climate, even a simple love story becomes political is telling of the times we are living in. The film, therefore, chooses to focus on the way ‘politics’ has encroached on our personal spaces that every act of living, being, loving becomes an act of resistance. It is herein that Nasreen’s personal story becomes my story too, it is herein that her personal journey also resonates with the journey of several other women, with the journey of what we have become as a nation.
Farha completed a 2-year Postgraduate Diploma in Editing from Roopkala Kendro, Farha has edited several documentary films, short fiction and also worked on feature films.
Farha’s directorial debut film ‘I am Bonnie’, on the tragedies, aspirations and achievements of a transgender footballer, had the world premiere at BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, got the National Award for best film on social issues, awarded the Best Documentary at Kolkata International Film Festival and screened at many other international festivals. Her first feature length film ‘Holy Rights’ on Safia who joins a program for training women as Qazis (judges of Sharia court) followed by the lived experience of several women who fight against the instant triple talaq practice (Divorce by saying Talaq thrice)– is set for its international premiere this year.