Review: Rahm – A moral exploration of the complexities of virtue

Review: Rahm – A moral exploration of the complexities of virtue

A Sufi adaptation of Shakespeare’s play ‘Measure for Measure’, Rahm is a thought-provoking exploration of the uniformity of belief that has been present in religion for centuries. Shakespeare’s 16th Century Vienna is transformed into the modern day city of Lahore, Pakistan. Whilst the urban landscapes contrast dramatically, the religious and cultural intolerance that lies within couldn’t be more alike. Both historical situations are characterised by a rigidity of belief, a denial of diversity and the enraging hypocrisy of the powerful enforcers of “virtue.” An honest Governor goes into hiding and watches over the oppressive actions of the Deputy left in charge. The hypocritical Deputy, an enforcer of virtue, sentences a man to hanging for getting his fiancé pregnant. This same Deputy also promises to free the man if his sister will lay with him.

An enchanting portrayal of Lahore is one of the most striking features of the film. The magnificent mosques, old city walls and windy alleys are slowly traced by the camera. This backdrop is paired with the dervish drums and mesmerising singing to capture the atmosphere of the city superbly. The melancholy sound track alongside even the comic action serves as an unceasing reminder of the terror and severe penalty that defines city life.

An enchanting portrayal of Lahore is one of the most striking features of the film. The magnificent mosques, old city walls and windy alleys are slowly traced by the camera.

Sanam Saeed portrays Sameena, a young woman desperately racing to save the life of her brother after he is condemned to death for getting his fiancé pregnant. Saeed is natural in her painful portrayal, convincingly displaying the helpless situation of the virtuous under the control of immoral oppressors. Director, Ahmed Jamal stays clear of enticing the commercial audience through means of song and dance. This film is more than just entertainment. Jamal lays a focus on naturalistic acting and this means scenes at times seem underwhelming. Having said this, in the case of Saeed and Sajid Hasan, playing the governor, this style of acting ensured the characters they create are recognisable in everyday Pakistan. The virtuous messages of acceptance, can then be directly translated to the cultures of modern life.

The ending endeavours to convey a message of forgiveness and hope through marriage.

The ending endeavours to convey a message of forgiveness and hope through marriage. An underlying tension is created however, due to the harsh punishments of the Governor to Councillor Kamal who is sentenced to whippings and death. This violence appears out of place in the modern day world. Further than this, the marriage of Marium and Ahad is unsettling and seems as a rather solemn and hopeless compromise for Marium. A compromise because as a woman she can be only ‘maid, wife or widow’ and to be the wife of an evil man is the better option. Despite this, the action develops strongly throughout and the film undeniably confronts issues of tyranny, belief and justice with a thought-provoking vigour.

Rahm is being screened at the Odeon Leeds-Bradford from 24th March 2017.

Eve Newstead

Image courtesy of Blue Dolphin Films 

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