Friday, May 30, 2014

Wadjda (2012)...A Realistic Movie Which Moved Me...

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Though the girl is the main character, this boy too acted very well, so, wanted to display this poster too!
I loved this movie, Wadjda so much that I watched it for the second time today!  It hasn't got even 1% of Indian/Bollywood/Kollywood touch.  Still, it touched my heart! I had tears in my eyes, happy tears in the end!

This is the story of a young 11 year old, school going girl, Wadjda(all letters are heard while pronouncing the name but in Arabic accent!) wishing to own and ride a bicycle and win a race with her friend, Abdullah.  The story is based in Riyadh and picturised in the same place which was not easy for the first woman director of Saudi Arabia,  Haifaa al-Mansour (link).  In Saudi Arabia, girls are not supposed to ride bicycle because of a myth that the girls would not conceive later,  if they do! You can see Riyadh streets with Arabic licence plates in their cars...even numbers!

This girl, Wadjda goes to an 'all girls' school and her neighbour and friend, Abdullah teases her all the time and rides away on a bicycle.  She challenges him that one day she would win a race with him on a bicycle.  She notices a 'green brand new bicycle' in a shop and asks the old shop keeper not to sell it to anybody else but to reserve it for her till she collects the 800 riyals, the cost of the bicycle.  He laughs and tells her that he would wait for her to buy it.

Her school is a typical Islamic school where the girls  follow the rules of Islam.  The girls are made to cover their head and face, though this boisterous girl Wadjda never covers her face! She starts 'collecting' money by all means like selling her own wrist bracelet made of wool, mix-taps of different songs, exchanging 'errands' for her friend for money (she charges for giving and taking notes from the friend and her boyfriend).  This gets a bad name for her in the school.  She is often called to the Headmistress's room and reprimanded.  Her mother (she is a famous local TV artiste, it seems, looks beautiful!) is busy wooing her husband not to marry again leaving her, since she could not produce a male child (Indian touch?!).  She advices her daughter to be a 'good girl' but this girl, Wadjda is in her own world.  Abdullah teaches her to ride his bicycle at their terrace and then at an open ground.  He gives her shyly, a helmet too and tells her that he would marry her once they are old enough! This is said with an innocent face and Wadjda ignores and walks off! Since enough money was not coming fast, she joins a 'Quran' competition which offers 1000 Riyal as prize money.  To her Headmistress's astonishment this girl recites 'quran' very well and wins the money.  When asked what she would do with the money, the girl says that she was planning to buy and ride a bicycle.  The whole auditorium is shocked.  The Headmistress is not very happy and announces on Wadjda's behalf that the money would go to the 'Palestinian brethren'! Wadjda gets very angry and gives her a nasty look (with 'words') and then goes home.   Her father was waiting with the news that he was re-marrying and the mother was very upset.  They show how much he loves his daughter.  He gives her a lucky stone...a piece of stone from a volcano (she holds it in her hand while participating in the competition!).  But girl child is secondary in Arabian countries, like ours! Wadjda's mother had collected (she too works in a school...women mostly work in 'all-women' environment) money to buy a 'red-dress' to go for a wedding party of her husband's brother.  Now, she surprises her daughter with the 'new bicycle' which the old shop keeper had reserved for a small girl! In the end Wadjda rides in front of her grand mother's place where her father re-married and then in front of the shop, laughing happily at the shop keeper...he seemed to be happy seeing her riding the bicycle! She races with Abdullah and goes far away happily!

I think I will notice more and more new things if I see the movie again and again! The Quran recital sounds beautiful! The sing song sound doesn't sound strange to us! The teacher asks the students not to touch the Quran when they have periods! The book should be touched with a tissue! It should not be left open to stop the devils from reading it! While praying, they should sit together without leaving a gap in between...again to stop the devil from coming in between! The girls should not talk loudly outside the school entrance since their sound is considered 'nakedness'! But the women wear exotic clothes at home and smoke too! While coming out, they cover their body and face! Only eyes are visible outside.  Since women are not allowed to talk to strangers other than relatives, the director had to advice the crew via walkie talkie, sitting in a van, while shooting for the movie! The whole movie is picturised in Riyadh, a place where even movies are not produced and shown since theatres are not there.  People watch movies in DVDs or go to Jordan or other nearby countries! This movie was produced by the Prince Alwaleed bin talal with German collaboration.  More details are here.

The girl who acted as Wadjda is a first time actress.  She was very natural, naughty looking, which the role asked for.  The story is based on the director's life itself and her niece's life.

You can see the list of nominations in the link mentioned above.  Hmmm...I have to mention one more thing.  The girl draws the family tree at home but it contains only the names of the male members.  She pins her name in their tree branch, but her mother removes it! I can go on mentioning these tid bits some more.  But I will leave leave them to you to watch and enjoy.

Now, to the trailer...




There is no climax like our movies, so, spoiler alert is not needed!

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Movie Stills: Google

8 comments :

SG said...

Thanks for the nice narration. We lived in Riyadh for 3 years. While reading this post, fond and not so fond memories came to my mind.

Toby in India said...

Hello Sandhya, great description of this movie.,can imagine the emotions.
And please, keep coomenting on the Modi Government, so I can read your judgement of what happens next. LvU , toby

Sandhya said...

SG: A friend's daughter is living there for the past many years. The mother never went there to visit her. They are not allowed, she said...but I think the mother doesn't like to wear the purdah and follow their strict rules. They are Hyderabad muslims and she was a nice lady. This daughter daughter had 3 children...no family planning is allowed in Riyadh.


TOBY IN INDIA: Nice to see you here, Toby! Will write about politics often!

Destination Infinity said...

These realistic kind of movies are what we need in India.

It's strange to see such rules being enforced in relatively developed countries.

Destination Infinity

BK Chowla, said...

Extremely well described,Sandhya .
I have been to Saudi a number of times and can understand the msg

Rachna said...

The movie sounds very interesting. I have read some horrifying stories about and set in Saudi.

Avada Kedavra said...

Sounds like an interesting movie. Read the wikipedia entry too. But I don't think I will watch it, as you say it is a sad story.

Sandhya said...

DESTINATION INFINITY: Some 'different' movies are peeping out in Hindi and Tamil.

Do you think Saudi is a developed country? We are far far better.


BK CHOWLA: Thank you, Chowlaji! Many people I know don't have a good opinion about Riyadh.


RACHNA: Is it so? They don't have movie theatres even, they say. I don't know much about this country...A friend's daughter stays there after marriage. She is not giving a good opinion about the place.


AVADA KEDAVRA: This is not a sad movie...I have written in the second line itself. The girl has acted very naturally. No negative thing touches the girl's attitude. She is happy in her own way. A good movie if you want to see one without a Bollywood touch!

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