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UNFREEDOM is an urgent contemporary thriller about a society torn apart by political, religious, and sexual turmoil. Shifting between New York and New Delhi, the film juxtaposes two powerful and unflinching stories about religious fundamentalism and intolerance, one of which follows a Muslim terrorist attempting to silence a liberal Muslim scholar, while the other is about a young woman who defies her devout father and escapes an arranged marriage because she is secretly embroiled in a taboo lesbian romance. In this searing portrait of the polarized world we live in, all four characters go to their absolute limit-and beyond-in their struggle to defend their deeply-held and conflicting viewpoints on freedom, faith, family and love.
Greetings again from the darkness. Societal mores are always slow to change, but the slow acceptance of new cultural ideals pales in comparison to the evolution of religious beliefs and traditions, which can take multiple millenniums for even the smallest revisions. First time director Raj Amit Kumar co-wrote the script with Damon J Taylor, and they seem anxious to point out the out-of-step status of Muslims in regards to both pacifism and sexual orientation.
The structure of the film can be a bit tough to follow as a viewer since there are two seemingly unrelated stories, along with the corresponding flashbacks for character perspective. One story follows an angry idealist has he accepts his assignment for terrorism and travels from Pakistan to New York City. Mohammed Husain's (played by Bhanu Uday) mission is to coerce (a word much too nice for his actions) pacifist Muslim scholar Fareed Rahmani (Victor Banjeree) into admitting on video that he is a fraud and not a true Muslim. The other story has Leela Singh (Preeti Gupta) as a frustrated lesbian woman in New Delhi who has refused ten marriages arranged by her devout father (Adil Hussain), and finally runs away to meet her choice of lover artist Sakhi (Bhavani Lee), whose current boyfriend finds Leela's passion comical right up until he doesn't.
A running theme for both story lines, as well as the numerous sub-plots, is specifically stated as "It's the choice we make when we are most cornered in life that define us". Solution through violence and torture is consistent through both stories, and as disgusting as the actions of terrorist Husain are, it's the actions of Leela's father that are the most stomach churning and confounding. There are a few shots taken at the power of Wall Street, but the actions of greed don't compare to the more severe and unforgivable actions driven by religious beliefs. The film was originally entitled "Blemished Light", but it's difficult to find illumination in this well-acted film that exposes clouded thought processes.
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