No other industry gives an near original life story than a Malayalam film industry. These movies make us think of what actually matters in this simple life we live. And Zakariya Mohammed made no exception while directing this movie. The theme of Halal Love Story is enclosed in its name. The movie revolves around a few religious men trying their shot in making a ‘Halal’ (lawful) rated movie. That is, a movie with no lewd comments, objectification, adult content and violence.
The main character Shereef, played by Indrajith is an active street play artist. He and his street play club protests against the present day imperialism created by first world countries. Be it protesting against U.S. bombing Iraq to boycotting of Coca Cola the play does it all. On one hand while these scenes deals with such serious issues, it is not directed in a way to make a bold political statement about it, but to just shows things as it is.
In today’s movies, almost all of the movies has Haram (forbidden according to Islam) content. The member of the Muslim organisation Rahim wanted to make a Halal rated movie targeted on their people. Rahim and Shereef thought Thoufeeq, a well educated school teacher with artistic capability will be the right suit for writing a Halal script.
When it is time to find a director, Thoufeeq approaches Siraj in a bar, a character who is opposite to Halal concept. Drinks alcohol, smokes cigarettes, divorced, short-tempered, Siraj has all the characters of a typical movie director as seen by our society. A total Haram character. The title of the movie was revealed by Thoufeeq as ‘Moonamadhum Umma‘ to the assistant director, on first thought, he was pleased to hear it as he perceived it as a romantic movie, turns out it was actually about ‘Umma’ meaning Mother. Siraj was reluctant at first as the concept of a Halal movie is a bit bizarre for him. Going though a bad relationship with his wife, he loves the caring mentality of Thoufeeq and accepts to do the movie.
Coming to main lead selection, Thoufeeq was reluctant to make professional actors act as husband and wife. Instead he wants an actual married couple to be in the movie. This will make the chemistry natural, the movie acceptable, also it will cut costs. The members of the organisation were called for acting in a lead role. Women refused to act, as movies are considered Haram, and some think it will be bring bad reputation for their family.
After a brief set-back, Shereef comes to rescue. He and his wife Suhra(Grace Antony) accepted the offer. Suhra, a sarcastic wife of Shereef, learns a lot about acting after this deal. She had a character of being under the shade of husband at all times. When it comes to shooting a scene with just her in the scene, she looks up to him for approval and comfort, which will be highly relatable for most of the women audience. The scenes shared by Suhra and Shereef look realistic. And the conversation around the taboo of hugging on screen puts a cherry on top.
The awkwardness of acting in a movie was bad, it was made even worse by the silence keeper, who keeps bugging the neighbours to keep the sound down. This awkwardness, forced calmness and tension in the air, added a subtle humour to the movie.
The director’s short-tempered nature in dealing with the play artists’ dramatic way of acting made directing the movie an unthinkable task for him. This is when the acting trainer Parvathy Menon comes into the movie. She attempts to clear every dirt in the actors minds and encouraged them to tell out the things that bug their mind, while they are blindfolded. Suhra tells somethings she should not have told which was a little shallow. This created problems in between the couple. In the end of the training session, Parvathy selects actors to be in the movie and eliminated all others. Shereef being a play actor for all these years, was not selected because of his talent, but was selected after a quick discussion with the script writer because he is the husband of Suhra was an embarrassing and unwanted scene for the plot of this movie.
A split between the couple, the struggles faced in daily lives of the director and the way the movie brings the couple to have a stronger bond. In the last part, the ‘Haram’ director facing the ultimate challenge of making the movie 100% Halal made Halal Love Story a good one, but not remarkable. Halal Love Story is a simple movie that tried its best to be natural and the writing was a little extreme here and there.
Overall Team Kollywood’s review rating for Halal Love Story is 3.5/5
Halal Love Story is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video