Salma is a documentary about a Muslim woman who grew up in a south Indian village and was locked up by her family in their home at the age of 13. She was forbidden to continue studying and forced into a marriage. During that time, she began to secretly compose poems on scraps of paper and smuggled them out and into the hands of a publisher and became the most famous Tamil poet, which was the first step to discovering her own sort of freedom and allowed her to challenge traditions and the norms of her village.
As much as I love and greatly appreciate the story being told in Salma, it does have some issues, most notably with the subtitles. They occasionally lacked ending punctuation, and it is sometimes unclear who is speaking. The nonlinear story is sometimes as helpful as it is hurtful because it kept me interested throughout the film, but I became frustrated at times because I couldn't understand a few things because I knew only the effect and not the cause for that effect. Eventually, however, everything becomes clear. Just not on my timetable.
Salma is a woman who grew up in a middle- and upper-middle class neighborhood where this practice of locking away girls is completely normal and a complete surprise to my Western and liberated sensibilities. The director manages to showcase how extremely courageous and inspiring Salma is while still showing that there's this bit of sadness about her, an exceedingly difficult accomplishment. The footage gathered included interviews from various family members describing Salma and outlines a woman who is clearly strong enough to defy her village's expectations that she marry at a young age yet still devoted enough to her family to finally acquiesce to do so in order to save her mother's health.
This film has a three-fold message: telling Salma's story, making the public aware of what life is like for Muslim women in Indian villages, and pointing out the inequalities in educational opportunities for girls in predominately Muslim countries. Salma looks into a culture and brings to light many different threads besides just the main story. While it could have easily lost the main point of telling Salma's story, it stays true to the point and merely touches on the others. I highly recommend this film to anyone curious about life in a Muslim world. While I know not all cultures are this way, it is still a unique and highly personal look into Salma's life.