Off and on, through the film, we were treated to a teary bride, and told how she was being married off to a man she had barely met. Such marriages can indeed be awful, as we know, but the Ripleys-Believe-It -Or-Not tone was distinctly annoying. Once I forced my hackles down, I was able to appreciate parts of the movie ;-). The marriage ceremony is quite one-sided -- the bride is packed off to the bedroom to await her lord, while he sits in the banquet hall being hand-fed by the female relatives of the bride...it is undeniably demeaning to the bride and her family.
There were fascinating interviews with Begum Khaleda Zia, a beautifully-made-up, perfectly groomed, china doll who said with no expression "There is no discrimination against women in Bangladesh". When pressed, she said "There was some in the past but now men and women are equal".
And an impassioned rebuttal by Shaikh Hasina Wajed, the (then) opposition leader. Of the 3 women SA politicians I saw on film that day -- Benazir Bhutto, Khaleda Zia, and Hasina Wajed -- Shaikh Hasina was the most 'real'. The others were all media-savvy, message-sensitive politicians, while she seemed less upper-class-elite, more connected to the problems of the populace.
The film-makers missed some cultural bits -- they suggested that Bangladesh had top-level women politicians because of the example set by Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. Hard to imagine Bangladeshi citizens and politicians taking Pakistan as their role model!
Taslima Nasrin isn't featured as much as the title indicates. They give a summary of her story, and have a short interview with her in a secret hotel room. She comes across as a pleasant, calm, but determined woman. When asked 'Are you challenging Islam?', she said with a smile 'Yes, directly'.
-- Susan Chacko