Earnest, well-intentioned debut about a young Pakistani woman who defies tradition to make her own rules for loving and living.
Sadika, the eldest daughter of a poor Pakistani family, is bright and does well in school. She’s been promised to her cousin Haroon since childhood, and her parents have high expectations of the marriage—particularly since he lives in America. But when Haroon comes back to visit with his family in tow, he changes his mind, declaring that he prefers Sadika’s younger sister. Off Zafary goes to America, where she has to live with her hellish mother-in-law Ashfaaq, while humiliated Sadika must give up her studies and help her demanding mother. When Zafary is confined to bed during her second pregnancy, Ashfaaq sends for Sadika to help with the housework.( Since no one wants to marry her, her mother doesn’t object.) Although lured by the promise that she can attend classes at the local community college, Sadika soon finds she has no free time and no money. Though a virtual prisoner in the house, she summons up the courage to confront Ashfaaq, who, faced with the possibility of losing such good help, agrees to let Sadika take a few courses. She does so well that she’s emboldened to move out, share an apartment, and find a part-time job. Her family is outraged by her assertions of independence and even angrier when she falls in love with a fellow student, blond, blue-eyed Michael. When they decide to marry, both families oppose the marriage, though for different reasons.
Haq excels at evoking Pakistani society, but too many set-piece scenes slow the pace. Still, a vivid reminder of cultural divides, and their cost.