Movies are a lot more than entertainment as I learnt

As I was at the onset of adolescence, my Mom asked me 'why do you watch movies?' It didn't even take a few seconds for me to reply, 'For entertainment. What else?'

She stared at me for a few seconds with a smile forming on her lips, 'Let's see if you would still say that by the time you are an adult,' she retorted.

Then I started watching a series of movies that completely changed my perspective or better to say, it helped me develop a perspective in the first place. So when I read about the start of IFFK (International Film Festival of Kerala) last week it did not even take a moment for me to decide whether to attend it. Then the movie 'Sinjar' caught my attention as it was the first-ever movie made in Jasari, which is the language spoken in Lakshadweep Islands.

The second reason why the fest caught my attention was that it was always houseful. So one day earlier before the screening of the movie, at about 6:00 am, I woke up and booked it. I guess my determination to watch the movie is pretty evident from that!

Also read: 'Sinjar' is about tortured women and a dying language: Sandeep Pampally

Before the beginning of the movie, some details regarding the Sinjar massacre in 2014 were shown. Reading about the murder of Yazidi people in Sinjar province in Iraq and the kidnapping of women and girls for sexual exploitation reminded me of the recipient of Nobel Peace Prize of 2018, Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who herself was kidnapped by the ISIS and became a human rights activist after her escape.

I initially had no idea that Yazidis are a religious group. Later I found out that this religion was founded in the 11th century by Ummayyad Sheikh and is derived from Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Melek Taus, also spelled Malik Tous, is one of the central figures of their religion. Yazidis believe God entrusted the world to the care of seven angels, pre-eminent of which is Melek Taus, the peacock angel.

It is said that Melek Taus is a fallen angel (those angels who were expelled from heaven). Due to the similarity between Quranic story of Iblis and the account of Malek Taus's refusal to bow to Adam, some have accused Yazidis of devil worship. Over the past centuries they have repeatedly been subjected to brutal attacks leaving thousands of its members dead. The persecution is still continuing with the rise of ISIS four years ago. It is in this backdrop that the heart-touching story in the movie 'Sinjar' is set.

The movie is about two young Lakshadweepi women, Suhara and Fida who got kidnapped and sexually exploited along with Yazidi women by ISIS. The movie deals with the stigma they have to face when the society comes to know they have been sexually abused. It shows how the society is still inconsiderate towards sexual assault survivors. We almost empathise with both the women when they say that they are suffering more now than they have suffered in the hands of IS.

The film also shows how the society expects women to maintain their so called 'chastity' and when it is 'gone,' they are alienated. The scene where the male lead of the movie, Ansaar talks to the family of her fiance by saying 'Women should learn to protect themselves' really brings out the degraded view of the society.

The movie is also abundant with beautiful visuals of the island. The movie really touched me and if you are an emotional freak like me, be sure to bring a set of tissues with you.

PS : A message to my Mom.

I get it now, Mom. Movies are a lot more than entertainment.

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