Even though it is a step in the right direction, digital short film Daughter by Law could have used a bit of tweaking.
Staring: Sohai Ali Abro, Marina Khan, Najaf Bilgrami,
Aehsun Talish, and Haris Waheed
Written and directed by: Armughan Hassan
Armughan Hassan gives the saas-bahu relationship a positive hue in the short film Daughter by Law, a well-meaning clip with a story that could have potentially benefitted from a bit of tweaking.
The film explores the relationship between two very different women. Mother-in-law Farah (Marina Khan) is an old-school Gen Xer who is a stickler for rules. Her daughter-in-law, Sarah (Sohai Ali Abro), is a free-spirited millennial expat who is married to Farah’s son, Adnan (Haris Waheed).
Their lifestyles clash when the latter (along with her husband) visits the former from the U.S. But things take a turn after a series of events – basically an accidental instant message, followed by what can only be described as inappropriate snooping – lead Sarah to discover that Farah is still hung up on an old flame (Aehsun Talish). The meddling that ensues brings the women closer and gives them an appreciation for each other’s tales.
It’s wonderful to see a short film that not only features two ladies as its leads but also presents them in supportive instead of antagonistic roles. It’s a pity though that the interests of these two strong women still revolve around a wishy-washy man. Daughter by Law comes so close to passing the Bechdel test, but then promptly stumbles. The story could have easily focused on, for instance, rekindling a female friendship instead of an unconvincing romance.
To their credit, Abro and Khan deliver solid performances, as does the (very male) supporting cast, for that matter. It’s just that the story doesn’t quite give you a reason to be invested in their characters’ tales, and the writing doesn’t quite make the narrative as interesting as it could have been.
Various elements – from the snooping and meddling to a romantic entanglement that could have easily been reworked into something more unique – detract from the overall quality, and keep Daughter by Law from being truly impressive.
Still, Hassan and his team deserve props for first recognizing the toxic saas-bahu rivalry issues that pervade local dramas and then trying to give the relationship a more positive view.
The creators also earn points for touching on issues like the generation gap and a somewhat-strained relationship between a strict mother and her resentful son.
Digital platforms like Digestive Showtime are giving filmmakers a chance to wander off the beaten path and produce fresher content, and with shorts like Daughter by Law, we are heading in the right direction. It’s always terrific to see strong female characters on the screen; now all we need is for them to talk about something besides a man.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection