What you need to know:

‘Majboor-e-Maamool’ by Haaris Qadri recently won Best Canadian Short Film award for National Film Board of Canada at Reel Asian Film Festival. The film features Anika Zulfikar and Anjum Siddiqui which tells the story of a mother-daughter relationship that everyone relates to. Speaking to Propergaanda, Haaris and Anika explained how the idea came from a personal place and it wasn’t typically intended to ‘send out a message.’

Q. Majboor-e-Maamool is based on a typical mundane mother-daughter relationship and that’s what makes it special. Why did you think it was important to emphasise on this?

Haris: This story is pretty relatable to the South Asian diaspora and I think it occurs more often in the west, given the generational differences and language barriers. I believe it is about a greater sentiment and how we have to be parents to our parents.

Anika: Haaris and I had many conversations about our relationships with our own mothers, and the ones we witnessed around us. They were overwhelmingly similar. There is the tiredness, the jadedness, but also an innate fierce loyalty and protectiveness towards our mothers.

Q. What message do you think it sent out?

Haris: I felt really drawn to it to write it, it’s coming from a really personal place. The film is a reflection of the relationship between my older sister and mother. There are arguments but at the end of the day we still love them, but that doesn’t mean we don’t experience the burnout of being a parent to our parents.

Anika: I knew it was too easy to fall into playing this character especially because we only had 3 scenes to show what my character was experiencing. I think my relationship with my own mom informed a lot of it.

Q. Children nag their parents and once they grow up it’s the other way around. How important do you think it is to talk about this circle of life and how successful Majboor-e-Maamool was in achieving this?

Haris: Yes I do think about this, and how this story shows a very specific timeline of a young adult in the West and how they have to act as parents and sometimes translators too for their folks. You are sometimes placed in the role even if you haven’t grown up.

Anika: We discussed the reversal of the parent-child role, and the strength/discipline/heart one requires to show them tenderness or love that you might not have even received growing up. Not because it wasn’t there, but because there were so many external factors affecting it, if not just for the simple reason that as South Asians (or Asians in general) the only love most of us receive from our parents is “tough” love.

Q. Why do you think Majboor-e-Mamool won an award? Was it because of how perfectly it portrayed a child-parent relationship?

Haris: I’m over the moon and thrilled because this film was my personal experience and what I saw growing up so when people related to similar family dynamics, it felt great. It won because it’s a very self-contained story and Anika and Anjum Siddiqui really brought life to their roles. They portrayed the feelings perfectly, even when there are silences in the movie which spoke so much. Credits to cinematographer, Aman Samra because he helped me find frames that really gave the cast space to perform.

Anika: With each screening, we’re realizing more and more that this hit a nerve for most (if not all) children of immigrants who watched it. It’s crazy how many of us have experienced this, and just haven’t had the language to explain it.


The actress also added that the film also shows the struggle of being in a healthcare system that is failing and doesn’t care about you, “It is plain, flat out racist and sexist at times, especially if you don’t speak the language. So despite one’s own communication gaps and complicated dynamics with their parents, you have to make sure that they at least are getting some of the benefits of the system they fought so hard to be a part of. Because at this point, their life very literally depends on it,” added Anika.