‘What Will People Say’ Review: Beautifully crafted, Heart felt and Heart Rending

What Will People Say (2017)

This semi autobiographical story revolves around a Pakistani Norwegian teenager whose life is blown to shreds owing to her immigrant parents’ ruthless cultural extremism.

Director/ Writer – Iram Haq

Cast – Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Ekavali Khanna, Sheeba Chaddha, Farukh Zafar, Lalit Parimoo, Rohit Suresh Saraf, Ali Arfan


Nisha (Maria) belongs to a well settled immigrant family in Oslo. She is a bubbly teenager who plays, parties and sneaks her cheat moments of teenage fun while maintaining a sober front for her orthodox family. Mirza (Adil Hussain) is a loving but vigilant father who is proud of his kids. But all this comes to an abrupt end when she is discovered with her boyfriend. 

Her tyrannical family dupes her, kidnaps her and banishes her off to live a diametrically opposite and scarily regressive life in a small town in Pakistan. The poor girl tries hard to adjust to her fate until she faces another horrifying jolt. 

Watch this moving story to know what destiny has in store for Nisha.


Every aspect of this beautiful film is worth appreciation including the writing, direction and performances.

Right from the first scene to the last one (both being in metaphoric conjunction with each other) and every moment in between, you are glued to the story emotionally and mentally. In its crisp duration, the film showcases all the important aspects and nuances of Nisha’s story while successfully boring deep into our heart and leaving you unsettled. 

The grit and resilience Nisha showed is worth applaud. There were times I felt that ending life could be the easy way out of her misery. When loving warmth and protection of your most loved ones turns to disdain and contempt, imagine the plight. But the brave girl withstood and wowed me with her endurance. But she’s so lonely, so unheard that you just feel like reaching out to her and hugging her.

The film showcases an aspect that hasn’t faded with time, though, might vary in degrees. I can understand the dilemma that immigrant parents face when they want to keep their children culturally rooted but that cannot be at the cost of uprooting their kids life and subjecting them to such cruelty. 

The extremes that youngsters, brought up on foreign shores, are subjected to by their own families in a fanatic bid to reign them in regressive culture is scary. 


Maria Mozhdah’s beautiful realistic performance is the the heart of the film. There’s a wide spectrum of emotions that her character gets to play and she nails it. There’s a naïveté to her finesse, there’s an innocence to her beauty. Her bafflement, fear, efforts to appease and adjust, utter helplessness, she plays it all perfectly.

Adil Hussain is good as the proud loving father who suddenly turns shamed and heartless under the misplaced pressure of society & so called culture. He conveyed well, those spurts of conscience and concern at some crucial moments.

Ekavali Khanna as the harsh, cold, disengaged and extremist mother is good. She makes us detest Najma with all our heart. 

Sheeba Chadhha is great as always in her small role. Rohit Saraf and Lalit Parimoo lend good support. 

The story is deftly crafted, well performed and presents such a moving picture that it jolts you. The film was deservedly the Norwegian entry for Oscars that year. The fact that it is based on Writer Director Iram Haq’s own real story perhaps lends it an extra heart felt, insightful and nuanced touch. A recommended watch for those who like well made poignant dramas.

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