Powerful drama Code Blue was premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last month and received attention for the way it tackles the sensitive subject of triple talaq, which is the controversial practice that allows Muslim men to end their marriage by stating ‘talaq’ three times.
Dr Aleena Khan produced, directed, wrote and played the lead role in the film based on real-life events. Eastern Eye caught up with the practising Mumbai-based doctor to find out more about her cinematic debut.
What led you towards your film Code Blue?
I felt the triple talaq subject of Code Blue needed awareness in India for a number of reasons, including ruling political parties misguiding women for the sake of votes. So many of these uneducated women suffer the injustice of a triple talaq divorce, without consent. I believe cinema was the best medium to raise awareness.
Tell us about the film?
The film is about an inhuman malpractice justified on the basis of religion. It’s the journey of a woman pushed to a dead end, who raises her voice against religious malpractice and triple talaq.
What has been the best part of your journey with this film?
There have been many memorable moments on this journey including when a little girl was watching the shoot with her mother and was curious about what triple talaq is, saying she was sad seeing the suffering of an innocent woman. I wrote and directed this movie with a vision to get connected to everyone, so they can feel the pain of an inhuman malpractice that needs to stop. I felt rewarded by that little girl’s curiosity because she is part of the future generation.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with the film?
The biggest challenge was to actually shoot this movie. Being on a sensitive topic meant an orthodox Muslim community may have reacted extremely, without knowing the truth about it. So we needed to shoot this undercover. Now that the film is finished we can let the world know there is a movie on triple talaq that tackles the issue sensitively and intelligently.
Why did you decide to direct and act in Code Blue?
Being the writer meant I had witnessed this lead character’s journey from the beginning. I wanted to direct Code Blue because I had a very clear vision about the character and story. I didn’t choose to act in the movie and only did so because other actresses were uncomfortable playing the character because of the sensitive religious aspect. So, by default, I played the lead role.
What can we expect next from you?
I’m working on various topics and am drawn to subjects that impact millions. My next project is about people seeming normal around us, but suffering from mental illness.
What inspires you?
My education inspires me. Unfortunately, so many Muslim women are not independent or educated enough to talk about their suffering. I find myself blessed enough to be a voice of millions of such women around the world.
Why do you love cinema?
I love cinema because it has a global reach and offers a platform to communicate important messages.