I Can’t Think Straight

Year: 2007
Production Co: Enlightenment Productions
Director: Shamim Sarif
Writer: Shamim Sarif
Cast: Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth

It didn't have the best acting in the world, the most cinematic of direction or the most plausible scripting, but I couldn't help but fall in love with this film. Yes it was because of the two gorgeous leads, but as well as their physical beauty, there was a strong damsel-in-distress appeal. We all want to see the hero end up happy, and for these two delectable women to end up heartbroken was unbearable.

Just like in Caramel, it was refreshing enough to see a story about Middle Easterners falling in love and leading normal lives instead of those we see in American movies - either zealots or mullahs who only ever pray blindly to Allah or try to kill Americans.

Tala and Leyla come from different worlds. Tala is from an aristocratic Muslim family but she's a rebel who keeps canceling engagements and running off to England to shop, get herself educated and have fun.

Leyla is a bumbling young British/Indian woman with literary aspirations but none of Tala's culture or challenging nature. When the two meet through a mutual friend they can't deny their fascination with each other, and before long they spend a glorious night together.

But it's the normally spontaneous Tala who feels the pull of her conservative family and culture holding her back from giving into her love for Leyla, and she leaves London, breaking Leyla's heart and trying to live a lie we know (and hope) she won't be able to maintain.

Ironically, this is the film Brokeback Mountain wanted to be (albeit with a pretty and colourful rom-com flair) - a story about a forbidden love rather than one about gay people. In my interpretation of the aesthetic at least, the notion of it being a gay love story never reared its head. It was just one where you hope the lovers will be smart and brave enough to be true to themselves - they just happened to be two beautiful women. Attractive, nice people who love their families surround the girls and the characters alone are such a welcome change from what you're used to from movie depictions of Muslims.

Look past the execution that gets a little forced at times and you'll discover a gem of a love story that could teach Hollywood (and America) volumes.

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