At first, it clearly looked like a film that is going to talk about all the misconceptions about Islam but it slowly and surprisingly transcends into another dimension of flourishing marriage in a better form.
“You maybe a perfect husband theoretically, but if it does not reflect in your wife’s happiness, what meaning does your perfection hold? “ Amazon Prime’s new Malayalam exclusive release, Halal: A Love Story primarily aims at being a film about making films by a community that has never done so but gradually it shifts to another theme and highlights how a husband and wife are happy on the surface level but there are issues they don’t try to touch because of the social conditioning. The word ‘Halal’ is often associated with buying meat dishes. But, here a more literal meaning has been taken and the film beautifully cultivates a satirical drama with Islamic teachings at the front that surprisingly shifts into deconstructing the system of marriage.
Set around the period of the 9/11 attacks, a close Muslim community condemns the actions of George Bush on Iraq when Osama Bin Laden declared himself the mastermind behind the attacks. They organize a gathering and burn an effigy of George Bush. Some members of the community even organize street plays to spread awareness and help in improving the wrong image of Muslims set in society. To help this cause and highlight the purity of the Islamic teachings, Rahim Sahib(Nazar Karutheny) takes up the responsibility of making a film with Thoufeeq( Sharafudheen). He then hires a director named Siraj( Joju George). Shareef, a street play artist takes a lot of interest in the film and is eventually selected to play the lead along with his wife Suhara( Grace Anthony).
The film, in the beginning, takes time to form its setup but the moment the shooting of the telefilm begins, a new energy starts taking place in the movie. On the first day of the shooting, plenty of laughable moments takes place when a sound engineer played by amazing Soubin Shahir tries to achieve absolute silence for sound synchronization but in this process, he has to quieten the entire surrounding area and stop all the daily chores of the people living around the selected set. Another sequence where amateur actors bring in their street play style of acting for the shooting of telefilm is full of chuckles.
Zakariya Mohammed, who also played patient zero in the popular Aashiq Abu’s film Virus and also directed a heartwarming film called Sudani From Nigeria. Through this film, he subtly achieves a similar warmth. At first, it clearly looked like a film that is going to talk about all the misconceptions about Islam but it slowly and surprisingly transcends into another dimension of flourishing marriage in a better form. The cinematography by Ajay Menon is beautiful especially in the very beginning and just after the first half of the film.
Performances by Grace Antony as Suhara is top-notch. In the beginning, she is a calm, loving, simple housewife but after a training session of actors she is on another level, the sudden righteousness is amazingly performed by Grace. Joju George as Siraj has the most painful character in the film and he plays it spectacularly. Sharafudheen as Thoufeeq brilliantly continues a calm temperament throughout the film and he is more like the controlling force for Siraj. Indrajith Sukumaran as Shareef is an absolute gem to watch. Overall, Halal: A Love Story is a beautiful social narrative on marriage, as well as a humorous satirical drama.
Cast: Nazer Karutheni, Joju George, Grace Antony, Joju George, Sharafudheen, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Soubin Shahir.
Director: Zakariya Mohammed
Streaming: Amazon Prime Video.
Verdict: Definitely give this a try.