Women power from Lebanon!


Where do we go now?
Year: 2011
Language: Lebanese Arabic
Director: Nadine Labaki

 I thought it might be fitting to review two movies that speak of the battles and triumphs women face, especially in the light of the nationwide anger and angst after the Delhi gang-rape. ‘Where do we go now’ is a stirring, inspiring movie set in an unnamed village in Lebanon. Muslims and Christians live in happiness and mutual respect and tolerance, in spite of the strife between the two communities in the world outside this little village. The community is tight-knit and our heart warms at the camaraderie among the inhabitants. What is especially heart-warming is the mutual support and dependence of the women in the village.

Roukoz and Nassim are the go-to boys in the village. They take requests and orders from the people and then go into the city to procure these items. Amal (Labaki) looks after the local café and is a Christian. Rabih, the local painter and odd-jobs man is in love with her and it seems as though there is a constant back and forth of suggestive glances and blushing undertones between the two. In scenes that remind one of Bollywood movies, the two often imagine themselves singing songs of love to each other! More importantly, Rabih is a Muslim.

The woman are constantly thinking of ways to keep the men from becoming communally charged and fighting each other, as tension between the communities is very high outside the village. The heads of the Church and the Mosque too, work together to maintain peace in the village. And that is what is so interesting and exciting about this movie – the potential of numbers, and of a strong leadership. When the Cross in the Church is broken when Roukoz tries to fix it, the Priest tells everyone that the wind broke it. When a goat is thrown in the mosque and one of the Muslim men picks a fight with the Christian, the Imam urges people not to blame the Christians for what happened. When the only television in the village broadcasts news about fights in other villages and parts of the country, the women break the TV so that the men have no reason to pick fights with each other.

But the village does spiral out of control when Nassim is killed in firing outside the village. Small fights become bigger and the women are at their wit’s end. And what do they do? They invite a group of Russian dancers to distract the men, and then persuade the Priest and the Imam to fix a meeting to discuss the communal tension. At this meeting they mix Hashish in the food served and while the men are heavy and happy with all the drugged food, they take their weapons and bury them! Meanwhile, the Christian women wear the Hijab and the Muslim women discard it! Why, you ask? What can I say – this movie is fascinating!

Verdict: The movie portrays so beautifully the power of a few people to change the order of things – do watch it!
Rating: 4stars
Hot: The women are superb, their dialogues and little fights will keep you entertained throughout.
Not: Makes you wonder if this can actually happen – friendship and the desire for peace transcending religious affiliations.