Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Murdered By My Father (2016)

Murdered By My Father is a loose sequel to 2014's award winning drama Murdered By My Boyfriend in that it attempts - via several testimonies and stories of real life events - to educate audiences that domestic violence isn't really something hidden behind closed doors; it could be happening to the person you sit next to at work, or the girl at the bus stop. In the last five years alone, an estimated 60 young women in the UK have been murdered, by people they know and are close to, under the specific criteria of ‘honour’ killings. A further 12,000 have been the victims of ‘honour’ crimes which include both beatings and abductions, though the sobering reality is that, in actual fact, these numbers may be much higher as many girls simply disappear, shipped abroad or worse, or suffer in silence.

BBC Three have taken the contentious issue of forced marriage and honour killings as their inspiration here, proving that the 'sideways move' online hasn't dampened their commitment to tell important stories, even if it does mean the audiences for these stories have become criminally and frustratingly narrow. I said at the time the move to an online platform was mooted that it was a terrible shame that the one BBC channel still committed to telling contemporary challenging stories about our society in the single play form was being shunted into potential oblivion and I still stand by that. Murdered By My Father, available now on iPlayer and set for terrestrial broadcast at 10:45pm on BBC1 tonight (5/4/16), is a powerful film that demands to be watched by as many people as possible, because this is an issue that requires awareness. It is only by acknowledging the problem of 'honour' crimes  and kickstarting a conversation about them that we can we actually put an end to these horrific tragedies and give people the justice and freedoms they deserve.

The drama follows 16-year-old Salma, played by Kiran Sonia Sawar, who lives with her father (Adeel Ahktar) and her younger brother, the mother having died some time previously. Salma looks after both her father and her brother as well and is also studying at college, where she falls in love with her best friend’s brother Imi. But unfortunately, her father already has plans for Salma; she is promised to his boss’s son Haroon. As her engagement approaches, Salma surreptitiously continues to see Imi though, as you can probably guess from the film's title, there really is no happy ending for them. 

All of the cast are brilliant and spellbinding in what is often a rather harrowing, discomforting watch but I must single out Ahktar - if you're only familiar with his more comedic performances in films like Four Lions, prepare to be surprised and impressed in what is a very difficult, complex role.

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