In all the movies that deal with religion or religious issues, the makers are always in hot water. One side of the viewers would feel that the makers have falsely represented the beliefs of the community or that it does not do justice to what it shows, while the other side would complain that the makers are playing it too safe. I am sure that the makers of Malayalam film ‘Halal Love Story’ are facing these criticisms too.
This is extremely unfortunate though and probably the reason there are fewer attempts to make these types of movies. The significance of such a movie to our community is manifold. Unfortunately for Indian Muslims, conversations about Islam has been reduced to polygamy, triple talaq, consumption of beef and jihad. Mainstream Movies, books and news channels only seem to talk about this.
Director Zakariya Mohammed’s Halal Love Story revolves around two individuals’ noble attempt to make a halal movie devoid of any haram, and therefore maybe be watched by a practising Muslim. The duo faces a lot of challenges like finances, appropriate casting, obstacles of shooting in a small village, etc., but the biggest challenge is to achieve all of this by following the Islamic way. The success of their attempt is for the viewer to decide.
Halal Love Story touches on a number of issues that average Muslim faces in today’s world and non of them are related to polygamy or triple talaq. It talks about the good and bad (haraam) deeds in Islam and everything that lies in between. It shows how a Muslim navigates today’s world trying to avoid sins except that the bad is intertwined with the good that one sets out to do.
The movie also talks about a woman’s independence even in communities that parade about women’s rights. It talks about the concept of debt and what happens to it after a person’s death. It touches on capitalism and a Muslim’s struggle in trying to defeat it.
But the crux of the movie, according to me, is marriage. Modern Muslim marriage. The challenges in a marriage, the role of the community in an individual marriage, the decision-making process between a husband and wife and how much of those decisions are taken by the wife even though it affects both of them, the importance of friendship and physical intimacy in a marriage etc.
The movie is in the story and also in its finer details that contribute to the main plot. Halal Love Story may resonate more with people who are from Central Kerala and who have been part of that culture and such organisations (Sanghadana) as shown in the movie, but like most good Malayalam movies, the emotions conveyed in the movie can be felt universally.