On Hany Abu Asad’s Omar and the “Missing Voice” of Women

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Hany Abu-Assad’s film Omar (2013) has been described as “a film about love in the face of grueling adversity,” with the various obstacles facing the young couple symbolized by the very literal obstacle of the separation wall  that meanders into the West Bank, cutting off Palestinian areas from each other. Omar routinely scales the wall to meet up with Nadja, but as Abu Assad puts it in an interview: “This is the outside obstacle, because the inside obstacle between the two lovers is trust.” … [Read more...]

Dance Is How I Get Close to God: An Interview with Dancer and Upcoming Actress Isha Farha

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Born into a family where art is a compulsion, Isha Farha started learning dance at the age of three from her mother, Kalamandalam Haseena. She is now adept in various Indian dance forms, including Bharathnatayam , Mohiniyattam, and Kuchipudi. She won the title of Kalathilakam in 2008 for excellence in the field of Bharathnatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudy, folkdance, one-act play and storytelling. She is the founder of the dance teaching institute Bharatha Bharathi.An engineer by profession, … [Read more...]

Between Sainu and Shahina: A character sketch of two Muslim women characters in Indian Cinema

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With the recent controversy surrounding  Arabi Kalayanam (the term used to describe the practice of marrying  young girls from Kerala, India to Arab men for a lesser dowry), and legalizing marriage for Muslim girls younger than 18 years of age, I was reminded of T.V Chandran’s 2003 movie, Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam (Chapter One: A Wail). It is probably the only Malayalam movie which dives deeply into the multiple social evils that are still prevalent among Muslims in the Malabar community of Ker … [Read more...]

“Torn”: A Tale of Tolerance and Doubt

Scene from the movie Torn.

After reading the synopsis of Torn , a film written by Michael Richter and directed by Jeremiah Birnbaum, I thought: Oooh, this might be yet another film on the post 9/11 era, blaming the Muslim community for all evil things that happened, and echoing  all sorts of stereotypes that have defined America’s perceptions of Muslims around the world.But Richter and Birnbaum proved me wrong. After watching Torn, I believe cinema can still surprise us with bold ideas and out-of-the-box un … [Read more...]

Iron(y) Man 3: Saving Muslim Women

An Iron Man 3 action figure.

Explosions, gripping fight scenes, artificial intelligence, funny one-liners, sexist playboy arrogance and close-ups of Robert Downey Jr.'s face overlaid with computer graphics are everything I expect when walking into an Iron Man movie. What I don't expect are convenient and overused Hollywood tropes about Muslim women. So now you know my guilty pleasure. I'm a science-fiction-superhero-action-film geek -- and I frequent these movie genres in part to turn off my brain, enjoy some CGI … [Read more...]

Of Indian Marriage Laws and Conversions: The Case of Saifeena

Kareena Kapoor & Saif Ali Khan (left) and Sharmila Tagore & Mansur Ali Khan (right)

Celebrity marriages always come with a lot of public anticipation, and this was the case with the wedding of Saif Ali Khan and  Kareena Kapoor, who after five years of  a very public courtship, married on Oct 2012. However, the speculation surrounding the relationship didn’t end post-marriage. Apart from being India’s heartthrob, Saif Ali Khan was crowned the Nawab of Pataudi in 2011, after his father’s death. The Nawab of Pataudi is considered to be the Islamic religious head in the state of Pat … [Read more...]

Zero Dark Thirty: A Tale of Bias and Burqas

Zero Dark Thirty - Maya

This post was written by guest contributor Emaan Majed.The scene opens on a bustling Peshawar market. The street vendors peddle ripe oranges and bananas. Decorated rickshaws bustle through busy streets as Maya, the determined female protagonist of Zero Dark Thirty, makes her way to her destination. But in contrast to actual Peshawar markets, the only Muslim women on the movie screen are two briefly seen, unnamed extras wearing sky blue Afghan chadris.The central narrative of Zero Dark … [Read more...]


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