By Swati Sharan
The story, set in the 1970’s, focuses on the bitter relationship of two sisters, Meher (Marina Khan) and Seher (Sonia Rehman Qureshi). They haven’t been on speaking terms for the last 20 years. Seher has become a widow recently, so she returns home to claim her share of the family estate, which Meher refuses to divide. Meher believes her sister brought dishonor to the family by marrying her husband, Ahmed and holds the grudge to this day.
Meher, who is also known as Lala Begum for her strict demeanor, has stayed single to honor her father’s legacy. According to him, if she were to marry, then a suitor could potentially swindle the family out of their estate. In order to protect it, she chose to be single. This sacrifice came with a sense of loneliness and estrangement. As for Seher, who believed in breaking the walls that Meher and her father put up in the family, things have not been hunky dory. However, her situation and the opposition from her family left her helpless. Is there a deeper reason for Meher’s bitterness than what she is willing to confess to? Is a bridge of understanding possible between the two sisters? That is the story we see in “Lala Begum.”
As the unwavering and unrelenting sister, Khan has given an impeccable performance. Qureshi has played off the redemption-seeking sister well because the two have great chemistry. The film’s period set up is to be admired with natural dim lighting to reflect the tense mood of the story. There’s a great attention to detail that one observes in everything, ranging from the fashion to the styles of teapot sets. It is also very refreshing to see women of an older age group playing the main protagonists in substantial roles in the South Asian film terrain—it gives hope for more such films.
Overall, Jabbar has manufactured a film with great tones of suspense alongside a revelation of how much precious time we waste hanging on to our false prestige without truly enjoying ourselves.