Nikaah and Halaal: With only two films on triple talaq so far, has the film industry evaded the subject for reasons unknown?

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In a major announcement, the Union Cabinet, on September 19, approved an ordinance making Triple Talaq a criminal offence, a bill on which is pending in the Rajya Sabha. Minister for Law and Justice, IT Ravi Shankar Prasad, while addressing a press conference in New Delhi, said that the practice of Muslim men uttering "talaq" thrice to get a divorce has been continuing “unabated” in spite of the Supreme Court annulling it in 2017.

While films on every possible subject have been made in the film industry, it has managed to subtly touch upon the concept of triple talaq as well through films such as Nikaah and Halal. Compared to other topics though, triple talaq hasn’t been explored as much, possibly because of its controversial nature.

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Nikaah, starring Salma Agha, Raj Babbar and Deepak Parashar in the principal roles, released in 1982 and commented on the misuse of triple talaq in the society. Agha’s Nilofar endures the wrath of triple talaq in the B. R. Chopra-directed film which meticulously portrays the repercussions of the concept in an era as early as the 80s.

Nilofar is engaged to Wasim (Parashar) while her college mate Haider (Babbar) is secretly in love with her. Wasim and Nilofar eventually get married but life after their wedding is anything but bliss. Altercations follow and in the midst of such an argument as such, Wasim ends up uttering talaq thrice, escalating to his separation from Nilofar.

She, thereafter, meets Haider and ends up marrying him while Wasim regrets his decision of leaving Nilofar. In order to reconcile with Nilofer, Wasim is informed that she is required to get married again to another person and subsequently divorce him – as per the Sharia law, only then, will Wasim be able to remarry his former wife.

The consequent turn of events leads to a confrontation between Nilofer, Wasim and Haider while she complains of being treated as a commodity. Nikaah, thus, not only focused on triple talaq but also elucidated on the status of women in the community.

The film, in fact, was initially titled Talaq Talaq Talaq but its name was changed to Nikaah reportedly owing to requests made on behalf of clerics.

After Nikaah, no film as such was made on triple talaq until 2017 - National Award-winning director Shivaji Lotan Patil made Halal The Film last August as it narrated the story of two Muslim couples subjected to the acrimony of the practice. While triple talaq is conducted publicly for one couple, for the other – it occurs at their residence. But the plight of the women in both cases is the same as it highlights their distress owing to the practice.

Halal The Film starred Chinmay Mandlekar, Priyadarshan Jadhav, Pritam Kagne, Vijay Chavan and Amol Kagne in pivotal roles.

Considering the fact that every subject – good or bad, evil or benevolent, exuberant or gloomy, has been examined on celluloid, maybe Bollywood should contemplate making films on triple talaq as well in order to detail its predicament because the language of the films, suggestively, is better axiomatic than that of lesser mortals as such.

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