Halal Love Story review: Fresh plot bolstered by stellar performances

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As Zakariya and Muhsin team up again for Halal Love Story after the multi-award-winning film Sudani from Nigeria, hopes were really high for the film starring Indrajith Sukumaran and Grace Antony in lead roles. And this film won’t disappoint you for sure.

Halal Love Story is a ‘movie within a movie’ that tells the story about a group of people trying to make a ‘halal’ film keeping in mind their religious beliefs and conforming to the guidelines of an Islamic organisation they are part of. Halal in Islam means ‘lawful.’

Halal Love Story review: Fresh plot bolstered by stellar performances

Moral dilemmas

Set around the period after the 9/11 attacks, the Muslims around the world came into disrepute, thanks to Osama Bin Laden. In order to spread awareness about various misconceptions fed among the public regarding Islam and to raise their voice against the various forms of imperialism by America, an Islamic social organisation’s art wing tries it best by conducting street plays, telefilms and so on. But they want a bigger space to spread their message and that’s film.

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Shereef (Indrajith) who hails from an orthodox family in Malappuram decides to make a film with Rahim Sahib (Nazar Karutheni) by keeping in mind their faith and beliefs. “We can’t act in movies because we don’t have movies that suit our beliefs,” says Shereef in one such moment where the discussion to collaborate with an all-in-all trustworthy person (someone the organisation can trust)- Taufeeq (Sharfudheen) begins. Taufeeq comes up with a script for a feature film and gets it approved by the organisation but conflicts arise when they approach director Siraj (Joju George) who is not orthodox in his views.

Taufeeq explains why he prefers a real-life couple to don the roles in his film and suggests Shereef’s wife Suhara (Grace Antony) act in it. While Siraj and his team find it difficult to accept their various conditions, the members of the organisation’s art wing are also concerned if their film would be ‘halal’ and permissible in their faith.

While Siraj tries to make a film while struggling with his marital issues, Shereef and Suhara open up and try to resolve their own problems.

Halal Love Story also gives us a peek into how a movie is made and the kind of workshops and training they offer the actors. Yes, it is not an easy task to bring out a movie and this film is a testimony as it shows the kind of compromises they go through while making the film.

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Bona fide performances

Zakariya’s Sudani from Nigeria had some great layered characters and all of them were newcomers (except Soubin, of course). Savithri and Sarasa won a lot of love from the audience too. In Halal Love Story, Zakariya’s choice of cast is perfect. All those newcomers stood apart. Special mention to Nazar Karutheni for his flawless acting. One could also see Nilambur Ayisha at her best even if that was for a very small time span.

Indrajith is meticulous by balancing two roles in the film- one as an actor struggling to act well and as Shereef in the real film. There is a thin line between these two characters which Indrajith easily carries on with his expertise and of course, talent! His acting was not less or more but a balanced act.

Grace Antony as Suhara is so far given her best performance. Looks like Zakariya knew how to really utilize her skills.  Parvathy has done her part beautifully and the way she trained the village folks in acting was an experience worth watching. Joju, Sharafudheen and Soubin Shahir too give us some great moments in the film.

Top writing

The subtle humor has been written very well in this family-based drama. They make you laugh, cry and ponder upon one’s life now and then. Characters are well-defined and raw. Even the hands of the actors act in Halal Love Story. The shift to the film within the film was very smooth and had a lot of clarity. The writers have very well maintained a balance between the orthodox and the unorthodox people portrayed in the film. Though the film drags down a bit in the middle, it takes off to gain more depth.

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Heartfelt music

The soulful song titled Sundaranayavane sung and composed by Shahabaz Aman and produced by Rex Vijayan is a gem. Muhsin Parari’s lyrics are heartfelt and take you to a state of bliss. Bismillah is also one such melody that will absorb you and make you emotional if you get the right feeling while watching the movie.

Final verdict: A must-watch

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