Misogyny and patriarchy are features of every religion till the time the women decide to change it. It is much easier in developed countries with individual freedom guaranteed by law, but hard in developing countries like India.

Bebaak is screening at Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

India is at the cusp of being a progressive society, stuck with regressive past and traditions. Being a muslim woman in India is an even more complex challenge to handle. Even though the country offers options to be progressive, the inherent regressive traits of any religion exhausts an individual woman in day to day fight with misogyny and patriarchy.

This short film “Bebaak” by Write-Director Shazia Iqbal puts a light on these day to day issues faced by Indian Muslim girls who are aspirational and working hard to grow above their current circumstances.

Bebaak Short Film Still featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vipin Sharma and Sarah Hashmi
Bebaak Short Film Still featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vipin Sharma and Sarah Hashmi

It is a simple story about architectural student Fatin, played by fiery Sarah Hashmi, who is in need of money for her educational fees. Her father, played by Vipin Sharma, had managed somehow till now but is unable to collect the amount this time. Therefore, he applies for financial aid by an Islamic institution which helps Muslim students to study. Sarah is frustrated by the idea but has to tag along only to face regressive comments and prerequisites by the officer-in-charge
at that Islamic institution, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui .

What happens next is the decision by am islamic girl which will affect the society at large. What that decision is and how Sarah arrives at it, forms the further part of the story.

Sarah Hashmi in Bebaak Short film at a decisive point
Sarah Hashmi in Bebaak Short film at a decisive point

Being a short film, the movie directly jumps to the discussion of restrictions on Muslim girls about their clothing and overall appearance by a way of bantering amongst Sarah’s siblings. In the further journey, it also comments on the kids trying to fit in the cosmopolitan society around, which looks down upon the religious clothing.

The film goes linear and straight in the exposition of the topic it wants to highlight from the go till end. Sarah also succumbs to the financial pressure and wants to compromise for a day. However, her interaction with 2 madarsa (Islamic school) girls who look upto her for being the free girl she is, helps her take the decision she does take.

The writing of the film is sharp, to the point, and brings out the absurdity of the religious pressure on females to dress up in a particular way, even in a progressive environment provided by a country like India. Thankfully, it also gives a solution at the end.

The direction is swift and flows according to the need of the moments. Performances by all are spot on. Overall a quality product to watch. It will definitely create a discussion amongst the viewers and that can be considered as a success of any art.