‘What Will People Say’ has created a lot of talk since its release a few months back on the popular streaming website, Netflix. The movie is originally Norwegian and was even the country’s submission to the Academy Awards.
The film is set in Norway and follows the life of a Pakistani family living in the country, adjusting to the customs and the lifestyle.
The parents are trying to keep their Pakistani values alive and strong, while completely avoiding Norwegian customs and society. This creates a divide, in terms of mindsets, between the parents and the children, in particular, the daughter, Nisha. The mother is a typical doting wife and strict mother, while the father is a hardworking businessman. Their elder son is under the wing of his father, and then there’s Nisha, the rebellious one who smokes and hangs out with Norwegian kids.
One fateful night she calls over a boy she likes but sneaks him in. All they do is talk but they’re caught by her father.
This kickstarts a series of unfortunate events of Nisha. Her family thinks she’s had sex with that boy and try to get her married to him, but she refuses. As a punishment, she’s sent to her phupo who lives in a small town in Pakistan, to relearn her values.
The rest of the movie involves the tussle between modernity and tradition values.
Sometimes Nisha is winning and other times she’s losing, and losing horribly. The movie gives a VERY real look into what does happen silently in our society, and in our diasporas. Girls are sent ‘back to Pakistan’ to somehow repent on their actions. These families live in a Western society, yet the expectation that they will remain 100% Pakistani while living there is still alive and kicking. Children brought up in such a way as confused, they have two identities, one of which they HAVE to suppress.
‘What Will People Say’ also touches upon how such families act when their daughters don’t ‘fall in line’
In the movie, Nisha and her cousin fall in love and are caught having sex (the horrifying aftermath of which I am glossing over because, to be honest, I’m still recovering from watching that). Nisha’s father HATES her for it, he spits on her face and even tries to force her to jump off a cliff. You might think that’s crazy and exaggerated but it’s not.
There are a multitude of news articles you can find on the topic
Daughters born to immigrant parents in the West have been a target, simply because the honor of their families lays with them
You can’t expect to raise a child in the West and expect them to be 100% Pakistani and traditional. That’s not only cruel, but it’s also unfair to the child.
These are real issues that revolve around matters like honor, identity, and patriarchy.
This issue of ‘family honor’ doesn’t seem to be going away, may it be Pakistani families living in Pakistan, or Pakistani families living elsewhere. We ignore this issue, therefore it still exists; we need to face it, straight on, because too many lives, too many women have been lost to this archaic concept.
People across the world have received the film well.
Spanish comprehension level: Accidentally went to see a foreign language film with Spanish subtitles ('What Will People Say') and was able to understand it well enough to have my heart totally ripped out by it. A must-see, whatever language you speak.
— Kier Wiater Carnihan (@Kierrrrrrrr) October 3, 2018
You gotta've some balls to make a film like What Will People Say #Respect
— Aalim Rushdy (@dintricatemind) October 28, 2018
Saw a soul-numbing film What Will People Say about a young Pakistani girl's nightmarish journey from Norway to Pakistan.The director @iramhaq has put pain and suffering into an incredible perspective .Must watch.
— SubhashKJha (@SubhashK_Jha) November 6, 2018
It is definitely a must watch
But do note, it is not for the faint of heart.
A film on Netflix called “what will people say” has me in tears.. what’s worse is it’s the reality of life… everyone needs to watch it
— Amna ali (@amnaali1998) November 13, 2018
“What Will People Say” is a must-watch movie that sheds light over life of a girl who was sent to Pakistan from Norway after her family found out she had a Norwegian boyfriend.
You’ll relate with all her struggles if the phrase “loug kya kahein ge” pisses you off even one bit
— Abdussami (@DabblePebble) November 25, 2018
And it is an important film since it touches on a topic we hardly talk about
Watched 'What will people say' yesterday and the movie left me on the verge of tears. There's just too many similar examples of women having to bear the brunt and consequences of the whims and wishes of the family. Unfortunately, theres little social support for women
— Ali Rizvi (@Rizvinator) November 14, 2018
If you’ve seen this film, let us know what you think in the comments.
Cover Photo Courtesy Mer Films