If you are a person who seeks to know the horrible truth of this hypocritical, patriarchal society, this film is for you. Land Gold Women is a film about honour killing, a subject with which very few Indian or East-Asian people are familiar with. Incidents like these don’t occur every day, but they are so obscure that people fail to see it as a prevalent issue.
Avantika Hari has written a heart-wrenching story about a well-educated father who killed his own daughter for straying from their religion. Set in Birmingham, UK, the film starts with Nazir Ali Khan (played by Narinder Samra) being interrogated by two officers – Timothy James (Christopher Villes) and Farah Siddique (Laila Vakil) - along with his solicitor about his motive behind this heinous crime which he sadly doesn’t consider as a social wrongdoing. The film deals with flashback of the incident while he narrates his psyche that led him to take this ultimate step. Nazir Ali Khan is a professor of History at University of Birmingham, who emigrated from India in the 1980's. In the beginning of the film, Nazir is shown as very upscale and modern in his thoughts - until her daughter decided to go to college. Hello! Did I miss something? Radically changing a character from being a doting father to a narrow- minded person was hardly convincing. And if the story is all about it, one would need a stronger argument. Anyway, continuing with the story, Nazir’s brother Riyaaz turns up from India and starts giving him tips about ‘How to behave with the daughter who turned 17’. Riyaaz becomes the Master of Puppets, with Nazir as his favorite puppet. Nazir, much like an old-fashioned Bollywood father, decides to marry off his daughter to some family in Lucknow, using it as a chance for him to return back to his ‘Mulk’ (country). Sounds like Amrish Puri from DDLJ, only this one turns out to be the ‘Mogambo’ of Mr. India. The poor daughter with a heavy heart decides to rebel and elopes with her boyfriend David (played by Richard Kelly, whose face somehow reminds me of Wayne Rooney), leaving the father with no other option but to kill her daughter with his brother’s assistance. This is the part where this movie takes it all. The scene left me numb for a moment or two. Her scream for help, Nazir’s emotion while hitting his boyfriend, the small brother who was dragged into the scene of his sister’s death and most importantly her mother, the person who gave her birth, doing nothing but listening to her daughter’s cry while letting her anger out over the kitchen sink – it all leaves you with nothing but pain.
As a writer and a debutant director, Avantika has made an astonishing film on a subject that is bound to stir attention. Narinder Samra as a miserable orthodox father did a splendid job, handling emotions so tight that he brought the character to life. Neelam Parmar as ‘Saira Ali Khan’ undoubtedly did justice to her role. And finally, the character ‘Farah Siddique’ played by Laila Vakil was my favourite. The role seems tailor-made for the actor. All actors played their role with skill, but the editing of the film could have been crisper.
Though this film asks you to face hardcore reality, in my opinion, a film dealing with this kind of sensitive issue on a major scale should have focused more on the consequences rather than the story told from the eyes of the perpetrator. If this film would have shown the effect the incident caused on that small boy after he was forced to kill his own sister or on the mother who did nothing but subserviently hear the sounds of her dying daughter, it would have laid better impact on fools like Nazir to restrain themselves from committing such a crime. Also, honour killing is more common amongst Muslim families, especially the ones from the Middle East and Pakistan, but, like what Farah in the movie said (we Farah’s think alike), honour killing is not restricted to a Muslim family, and the issue has been prevailing in many countries and still in many religions. In fact, if I‘m not mistaken, it has also been shown in Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Love Sex Aur Dhoka’ where the hero and heroine are killed by the girl’s family for eloping. However, there is no doubt that this film has given more than a subject to talk about. It has given us a reason to think again before foolishly playing the cards of religion.
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