I think I had a date with someone like Arifa once. Just once. Arifa (Shermin Hassan) wears her heart on her sleeve and she has no filter when it comes to telling people exactly what she thinks of them.
She also has a lot on her mind as well, she worries about her mental health, she worries that she has never met the right man who loves her as much as she loves them and her father, Hameed (Jeff Mirza) is illegally selling tobacco. Then one day she meets a mysterious man called Ric (Luca Pusceddu) who says that he runs a professional gaming business, however she isn’t really sure she can trust him.
Arifa is the story of a young woman living in London and getting to an age in her life where she thinks she should have everything sorted. Everybody in her life has different advice to give her as far as what she needs to do to be happy but Arifa decides that she is fine the way that she is and that everybody else should just deal with it.
As the film follows Arifa it shows a comedic, dramatic and sometimes emotional story that I’m sure most people will identify with. If you don’t know or have never met somebody like Arifa then you probably are like her and should probably look at the way you treat other people.
However, although Arifa is a blunt and stubborn character, it’s to her credit that Hassan is able to find the humanity in Arifa and puts that into her performance. Hassan fleshes out Arifa into a relatable and three-dimensional character, even when at times the audience may not entirely agree with her behaviour.
Arifa is also a story about personal growth and self-awareness and Sadia Saeed’s script is often funny, honest and sprinkled with an undertone of what it’s like to live as a brown skinned woman in the 21st century. The casual racism that undoubtedly comes from Saeed’s first hand experience, is often treated with humour but it also gives a very realistic look at how people whose skin colour is anything but white are treated today.
From casual conversations assuming things about Arifa to profiling somebody because of the colour of their skin, Saeed’s script reminds the audience of how easily people can jump to the wrong conclusions because of what they read in the media, again fleshing out the reflection of modern-day London.
Arifa is a funny, relatable and naturalistic look into a young woman’s life and the hidden pressures in a person’s life who most would just judge on first impressions. Most films would just portray Arifa’s abrupt and obnoxious behaviour for laughs, but the film is all the better for portraying a real person with hopes for the future and the audience will leave Arifa feeling hopeful as well.
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