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Film Review: Finding Fatimah - Can a Muslim Rom-Com work?

A fun and quirky tale about the complexities of finding love, Finding Fatimah entertains and amuses with its fresh-thinking and loveable characters. A contemporary film that captures the perils of being single, the two protagonists Shahid (Danny Ashok) and Fatimah (Asmara Gabrielle) are yearning to settle down, so turn to a Muslim dating app in their attempts to find The One.

Neither of their journeys to find romance have so far run smoothly. Shahid, a small business owner and part-time comedian carries the stigma of being divorced, while Fatimah is a doctor with anger management issues. On paper, the pairing shouldn’t work, but the duo hit it off instantly and the viewer is taken on a humorous journey of them getting together, with the inevitable looming over their heads: Shahid having to declare his true marital status.

Set in Manchester, this contemporary urban tale will have you giggling in your seats at the absurdity of the events which include a hilarious cameo by BBC Asian Network Presenter Guz Khan, playing a gym bunny, and Abdullah Afzal playing a candidate MP who wants to legalise drugs. Keeping the tale fresh and relevant to Britain today, there’s references to Brexit and Snapchat while a sideline to the story is that one of our protagonists is also currently starring in a reality TV show. An accurate portrayal of Britain today?Finding Fatimah couldn’t be more 2017.The cinematic debut by Director Oz Arshad, whose move into the movieworld is funded by British Muslim TV, the USP of this film is that it’s the first time audiences will be treated to a flick where religion plays such an integral aspect of the story; a first in the British Asian genre where ‘cultural expectations’ usually override religious values. Set to smash stereotypes, what’s most impressive is how ‘normalised’ religion is. The plot never shies away from Islam being a part of each character’s life, but it never becoming tedious: it’s simply who they are, and they aren’t afraid to bare their beliefs. Comic moments are aplenty but in some cases perhaps a little too much (Shahid's ex-wife is incredibly annoying), while at times the script gets too melodramatic (the pair talking about children’s movie ET being one of these OTT moments), but the sincerity of the film is clear and the main characters are all likeable in their own special ways.As independent British films go, Finding Fatimah is unlike others in recent years and it’s this originality that will cement its place in modern cinema, but rather than one to leave to watch until it makes the history books, catch it now, while the jokes are still fresh and story is unique. Finding Fatimah releases in cinemas nationwide on April 17th, 2017. 20% of the profits raised by the film will be donated to charity The Penny Appeal.

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