Halal Love Story – an engaging amalgam of religion and faith

The Malayalam-language comedy-drama develops organically into a charming film that negotiates the vicissitudes of love and faith. It ushers us to comprehend the way a Muslim community lives and what their circumstances are…writes Ashok Parameswar

Through ‘a movie within a movie’ format, director Zakariya Mohammed uses subtle humour to navel-gaze on societal conventions.

The movie is about two profoundly religious men who used to act in street plays that convey religious messages to people. The two men, who are cinema buffs, decide to make a movie. Suhara (Grace Antony), the protagonist, plays wife to Shereef (Indrajith), a somewhat pompous husband. Zakariya gradually draws out a portrait of their marriage through a simple, impactful, and vital tale of awareness.

There are no great tragedies and duds. But the conflict is true to life and completely believable. Thoufeeq (Sharaf U Dheen) plays a significant role as a 28-year-old school teacher responsible for writing the script, which follows the religious understanding of what is permissible and forbidden in their faith. Then comes Siraj (Joju George), as the director of the movie, which is within the film, whose beliefs are the opposite of things considered Halal.

The film unfolds through observant eyes, with the camera focusing on shifting expressions and gestures rather than heavy-handed dialogues to convey emotions. Shereef, a deeply religious man who has dreams of being an actor, gets a chance to act as the male lead with his wife Suhara, who is forced to play his wife so that the halal laws are not broken. The director Zakariya and Muhsin Parari, who have co-written the film, uses this particular situation to draw out some humour.

The religiosity is overdone, especially in the initial parts, and Joju George holds the film to an extent with Suhara and Stanislavsky’s help (Parvathy). The script, however, does not have an emotional core like Zakariya’s sparkling debut Sudani from Nigeria does. This film meanders to a tame ending.

The film is available on Amazon Prime Video.

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