Pakistani-origin actress-director Iram Haq's film "What Parents Will Say", which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, is a bold take on female oppression among south Asian families.
It is a horror story of a free-spirited Norwegian schoolgirl, born to Pakistani immigrants, who one day suddenly loses her freedom.
She is kidnapped by her father and taken to Pakistan - an alien land and culture for her.
The film is also the personal story of Pakistani-Norwegian filmmaker Haq, who too, was forcibly taken to Pakistan as a teenager and kept there for one-and-a-half year.
"It is a personal journey for me. It happened to me when I was a teenager," the director said at the premiere here.
Haq said she dared to follow her own path. "I live the life I wanted. I have a son... we stopped this social control," she said.
Asked about whether her film portrays Pakistan in a negative light, considering some very unpleasant scenes about family and police in Pakistan, Haq said she never intended to cast anything in negative light.
"I didn't think about negative portrayal of Pakistani culture. I am talking about the subject in this film," she said.
Neither was she trying to portray Pakistani men in a negative light. She said the father in the film loves her daughter and he wants the very best for her. But he is trapped in a culture.
"He loves his daughter and she loves him....(but) the father is under pressure."
The director said the aim of her film is to build a bridge between immigrant parents and their children.
Haq, whose first feature "I am Yours" also premiered at TIFF in 2013, said: "I wanted to make this film before "I am Yours". But I wanted take time and tell it from the parents' point of view also."
Eighteen-year-old actress Maria Mozdhah, who shames her parents in the role of young schoolgirl Nisha in the film, said her character is a very complex one.
Mozdhah, whose parents immigrated from Afghanistan to Norway, said: "Someone with a multicultural background will relate to my character."
She said her character had found a balance between the two worlds in which she lived.
Interestingly, the Pakistan part of the film was shot in India's Ajmer and Udaipur. Haq too has a deep Indian connection as her father was born in Rajasthan. Her mother's family comes from Lucknow.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org)
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