Advertisement
Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com
Outlook.com

''Hala'': Awed by cliched trappings of a cultural diaspora (Reviews; Rating: * *)

''Hala'': Awed by cliched trappings of a cultural diaspora (Reviews; Rating: * *)
outlookindia.com
1970-01-01T05:30:00+0530
''Hala'': Awed by cliched trappings of a cultural diaspora (Reviews; Rating: * *)

"Hala" (Apple original film); Cast: Geraldine Vishwanathan, Purbi Joshi, Azad Khan; Direction: Minhal Baig; Rating: * * (two stars)

By Subhash K Jha

When we first see the 17-year old Hala, she is in the bathtub pleasuring herself. It isn''t the right image to introduce us to her. Hala is sexually curious, yes. But she is no libidinous adventuress. She is a calm, curious poetess, cruising the world on a skiboard, whose eyes convey the suffering of a soul far older and world-weary than she.

Somehow, the well-meaning but clichéd representation in "Hala" of a young Pakistani-American girl''s experiences never go beyond the tropes and the signposts. Conservative Pakistani parents, welcoming though culturally curious friends in school, liberal Caucasian friends in school -- didn''t we see all of that in Gurinder Chadha''s "Blinded By The Light" recently?

"Hala" does it with a far less blitheness of the spirit. It is a film weighed down by its own self-importance. In trying to sublimate the ''message'' to a larger audience-acceptance of teen-angst writer-director Mihnaz Baig ends up doing the opposite of what she presumably intended.

Hala is a heavyhanded Pakistani-girl-coming-of-age story where the girl''s only problem, eventually, is her father, a bigoted Pakistani man who, as it turns out, is having a secret extramarital affair with an American colleague (luckily for the script, a female colleague).

The wife, played nicely by comedienne Purabi Joshi, reacts to the affair when her daughter discloses it, with an I-knew-it-all-along. Then the mom comes up with the big reveal. "I named you Hala. He''s lying about naming you. He wanted to name you Joy," she reveals in Urdu.

Strange, the mother, after so many years in America can''t speak a word of English. Father is conveniently dumped out of the mother-daughter secret society and life moves on smelling of freshly plucked roses.

Any American émigré, specially from an over-conservative society, would tell you, diasporic crises are not easily solvable, and cultural assimilation is a myth. And yet in "Hala", our Pakistani-American heroine''s dilemma of being courted by an American boyfriend, is reduced to a one-note crossword puzzle. The way "Hala" treats the love interest is downright distressing. Making it worse, some of her decisions thereafter are downright embarrassing in their inappropriateness. This girl isn''t in need of freedom. She needs a shrink.

By the time Hala threw off her hijab and walked into free air and sunshine (yes, there is a sequence where this happens literally) I was neither intrigued nor amused by Hala''s journey from domestic repression to academic freedom. I was simply bored.

Not a hint of racism anywhere in Hala''s life in America. Where in America is this film located? Disney''s Neverland? And though the troubled stormy but eventually empathetic mother-daughter relationship is clearly inspired by Laurie Metcalfe and Soirse Ronan in "Lady Bird", "Hala" conveys none of the other film''s airy treatment of the troubled relationship.

More Lady Bored than "Lady Bird", "Hala" is a disappointment. If you really want to see a film about a Pakistani-Asian girl''s attempts to overcome her cultural crisis in the Western hemisphere watch Iram Haq''s "What Will People Say". That''s the film.

--IANS

skj/vnc


Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: IANS

More from Website

Swimmers Kushagra Rawat, Srihari Nataraj Set New Records In National Aquatic Championships

Swimmers Kushagra Rawat, Srihari Nataraj Set New Records In National Aquatic Championships

Delhi's Kushagra Rawat came up with a sensational effort in the 400m freestyle for men as he eclipsed Sajan Prakash's record of 3:54.93 seconds set in 2018 in Trivandrum.

World Boxing Championships: Shiva Thapa, Deepak Bohria Advance

World Boxing Championships: Shiva Thapa, Deepak Bohria Advance

Thapa, who won a bronze at the showpiece in 2015, will face Sierra Leone's John Brown on October 30 in the round of 32.

ISL 2021-22: Ritwik Kumar Das Joins Jamshedpur FC

ISL 2021-22: Ritwik Kumar Das Joins Jamshedpur FC

The deal, which has an option to extend, will see him don the Jamshedpur colours in the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season.

More from Outlook Magazine

My Name Is Khan: The Face That Launched A Thousand Products

My Name Is Khan: The Face That Launched A Thousand Products

Behind SRK’s lover-boy image lies instability—sensitive to social, cultural and political change.

A Fanboy’s Bollywood: Before And After The Khans

A Fanboy’s Bollywood: Before And After The Khans

How the larger-than-life Hindi film hero of ­yesteryears gave way to the relatable charm of Shah Rukh and the other Khans.

A Passage To India: Shah Rukh Khan Through The Eyes Of His Greatest American Fan

A Passage To India: Shah Rukh Khan Through The Eyes Of His Greatest American Fan

Superstar Shah Rukh Khan has grown beyond the confines of Bollywood and India to find fame and fans worldwide, writes Beth Watkins.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement