Fawzia Mirza’s beautifully poignant story looks at the complexities of mother and daughter relationships through fresh eyes.
A tale of grief, love, family and tradition is sensitively brought to life in this vibrant film written by and directed by Fawzia Mirza that effectively shows how our parent’s past can influence our own future.
Flashing between 1999 and 1969, the story begins with Azra who is living in Canada with her girlfriend but soon finds her world ripped apart when her father dies suddenly while he and her mother are on holiday in Pakistan. It is clear from the start that Azra and her mother Miriam have a strained relationship because of Azra’s perceived rebellion, while flashbacks show just how much alike her mother she is in this way and it takes a while for them both to realise that they are more alike than they thought.
With the vibrancy and style of a Bollywood film, The Queen of My Heart is essentially a coming of age story told from two different perspectives: Miriam’s almost laid back childhood in 1969 in which there was as much freedom that could be allowed to Azra’s increasingly constrained memories due to Miriam’s return to her Muslim roots when her husband Hassan being admitted to hospital, that leads to a conflict between mother and daughter as they battle against freedom and tradition and see life in very different ways. It really shows how grief not only affects individuals but those around us.
There is so much colour visually and the characters and story are so well brought to life that it is hard not to be swept away by it all. Fawzia Mirza has created a film that is filled with heart and emotion, although there are moments in which it feels more like snapshots due to the quickness of shots that feel almost too abruptly edited. But this is a small flaw in contrast to the overall feel of the film which highlights just how grief and fears of one person can then affect those around them. Throughout, you get a real sense at how frustrated both women feel at not being able to understand their individual perspective while realising that they have more in common than they realised and not only down to their shared love of Bollywood.
From an emotional point of view, the film’s ability to move from grief and sadness to moments of humour and joy are beautifully intertwined to make it feel completely grounded, believable and relatable. You feel each character’s emotions intensely and there is a sense of feel-goodness about it that is infectious.
The cast themselves are all a joy to behold. Amrit Kaur as Azra highlights the character’s independence and joy in her life while her reluctance to conform to her mother’s wishes helps to make it a beautifully balanced performance. She is well matched with Nimra Bucha as her mother Miriam whose reasons behind her strictness become increasingly clear in terms of fear of what would happen if Azra took a similar path to her and then regret it – the moments in which you see her with her own mother are really heartbreaking. Bucha’s performance is really detailed in a pleasing way. It is clear through both performances that both have or want to find their own way in life, but not wanting to disrespect their family. But they are well supported by the cast surrounding them, each filled with plenty of personality in a way that means that the audience can’t help be fond of them.
Overall, it is a gently charming film that will make you want to hug your own mother or daughter tighter.
By Emma Clarendon