|Welcome to Online Film Home! The place for all film lovers.|
WHAT WILL PEOPLE
Interview: Iram Haq •
by Maud Forsgren, cineuropa
TORONTO 2017: We spoke with Norwegian director Iram
Haq whose latest film What Will People Say is world-premiering at
“I used the knowledge I have
to tell a story so we can build bridges and open up a dialogue, because I don’t
believe in making good guy-bad guy and we’re done. That creates a bigger
The Platform section of the Toronto International Film Festival this
year includes What
Will People Say, the second feature film by
Norwegian director Iram
Haq, produced by Maria Ekerhovd of Mer
Film. Cineuropa met up with the filmmaker in Oslo in a café in
Grünerløkka, a popular neighbourhood she is fond of.
What Will People Say is a drama.
Haq: Yes, but the atmosphere is not always sombre and
dramatic. It is not an action film but suspense has its place with tension and
intense moments. Simple narration, in chronological order, without any
flashbacks. It is a classic dramatic staging.
Is it a follow-up to I
Am Yours, your first feature film, which was presented at
Toronto in 2013?
It is more like a continuation. The intrigue is
different. In I
Am Yours, Mina, who is
a single mother, feels unloved and is finding it difficult to face
adversity. In What
Will People Say, social pressure plays a
more important role. The conflict between cultures, as well as generations, is
in focus. My heroine, Nisha, who lives with her parents, wants to maintain good
relations with them but also wants to live like young Norwegians her age.
The traditions that her family cling to, however, do not
allow her to blossom: In her environment, the what-will-people-say is key, and
it is tiring and frustrating to have to respect rules imposed by others.
Nisha ends up living a double life till the
day she is caught in an act that severely violates her family’s values. A moment
of crisis that threatens to have major consequences.
Tell us a little about the actors in What Will People
who plays Nisha, is someone I found after many auditions. She
had what I was looking for – besides talent, courage and determination. As her
experience as an actor was limited, with worked together intensively. She gained
confidence and invested fully in her role. Adil
Hussain is a remarkable actor who we have seen in The Life of Pi, where he plays the father.
He is surrounded by strong, talented women, actresses or otherwise.
Did you shoot in studio?
Not at all. All the outdoor
and indoor scenes have been shot in Norway, Germany, Sweden and India. About
three months of shooting with breaks. I really love India
and after careful preparation, I went there a number of times on location
scouting trips with the cinematographer Nadim Carlsen. I chose
to shoot in the region of Rajasthan in the north-west of the country.
In a rural setting?
A world that was neither rural
nor urban, simply a small traditional village. My film is
intended to be as real as possible, and the actors with their performances and
personalities have contributed to the veracity of the whole, coupled by the
score that comes from two composers who did not know each other – the
German Lorez Dangel and the Danish Martin
Pedersen. They came on board at the very last stage of editing
because I wanted to be sure of myself, to feel, to really know what music would
best suit my film. On the other hand, the editors, the Danish Janus
Billeskov Jansen and the Norwegian Anne Østerud knew
each other well, having worked together often, most notably on I
Am Yours and The
Hunt by Thomas
Vinterberg. I was with them through the entire process. Reducing
raw footage of over three hours to a hundred and six minutes… I had to leave my
heart out of it as you have to be strict with yourself and know where to draw
The media has often talked about episodes that are similar to what
Nisha goes through.
I wanted to show the internal aspects, the
emotions, the experience as it is perceived intimately, without presenting
things in black and white, like a sort of template. My generation is more
willing to share their emotions than the previous one. It is important to me to
talk openly about what is taboo, of what society forces us to keep quiet about,
to make the voice of women heard, to dare to show things as they are – without
filters and at the risk of displeasing some. Free thoughts, free voices – that
was my motivation to make this film. The cause of women is close to my heart and
I feel a sense of responsibility to tell my fellow sisters that they should not
be afraid, that they should dare, should speak up and should help each
(Translated from French)
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY
Sixteen year-old Nisha lives a double life. At home with her family she is
the perfect Pakistani daughter, but when out with her friends, she is a normal
Norwegian teenager. When her father catches her in bed with her boyfriend,
Nisha's two worlds brutally collide. To set an example, Nisha's parents decide
to kidnap her and place her with relatives in Pakistan. Here, in a country she
has never been to before, Nisha is forced to adapt to her parents' culture.
Choose an item to go there!