Written by Evi Idoghor
I can't believe it's taken me nearly two years to write a movie review for this website. Movies nowadays are more concerned with pushing an agenda than with telling a compelling story that most people can relate to. This changed recently when I watched Gehraiyaan, an Amazon original film — I know, it had to be an Indian film to bring me out of retirement. Despite being over two hours long, this film kept me glued to the screen the entire time. It told the story of two female cousins, one a yoga instructor (Alisha) and the other from a wealthy family (Tia). Though there are other subplots in this film, I'm going to concentrate on the main theme.
Alisha, is a 30-year-old woman trying to make ends meet. She is doing okay for herself as a yoga instructor; however, she has a budding writer for a boyfriend who lives with her and keeps assuring her that one day he will blow. She begins to resent him for his lack of financial support as time passes. When will it all be over? She ponders.
He is no longer encouraged to share his stories with her as the strain in their relationship grows. Tia, the happy-go-lucky cousin, comes from a wealthy family and has a tall, dark, and handsome fiancé to prove it, because how can a wealthy man's daughter settle for anything less? Her family supports him, invests in his business, and sets him on a path that is appropriate for their daughter. Of course, he gives her a diamond ring as a reward.
One day, Alisha is driving home from work, frustrated, and on the phone with her boyfriend, who reminds her of a trip Tia invited them to. "It'll really make her happy," her boyfriend says, but Alisha rolls her eyes, continuing with what appears to be a bad day. A few days pass, and they board a yacht with Tia and her fiancé, Zain, bound for the cabin surrounded by a beach where the cousins spent the majority of their childhood. Tia introduces them to her fiancé, who goes ahead and pours them a drink.
While bonding with their men, they find themselves reminiscing about their time together. As the nighttime breeze brings silence, Zain is able to steal a moment with Alisha, where he invites her to join him for a drink. She politely declines. Tia then joins her cousin for a brief conversation before inviting Zain to keep her company while she goes to speak with Alisha's boyfriend, who also happens to be her best friend.
Zain then informs Alisha of his back problem, she assures him that a few stretches can take care of it. He then goes on to discuss his relationship with Tia, revealing that he feels trapped and will definitely flee at the first sign of freedom, but concludes that Tia will never let him go. He invites Alisha to go sailing with him the next day, which she accepts, and they bond over conversations in which he tells her about his real estate business and how he met her cousin.
The weekend getaway comes to an end, and both couples are driving home in separate cars - Zain starts following Alisha on Instagram. Soon after, phone numbers are exchanged, and a private yoga session is scheduled, giving birth to an illicit affair. I kept talking to her through the screen, girl, there is no way this affair will lead to a fulfilling relationship on God's green earth. It's a bad start, regardless of how unhappy you both are in your relationships, it will cost you your family, which isn't worth it.
Her situation reminded me of a time when I was attracted to a married man — when you're so far removed from such situations, it's easy to harshly judge those who engage in it, until you find yourself in a similar situation and wonder, “Jesus Christ, how did I get myself here?”
I’ll tell you how. Most times, the enemy preys on our loneliness, being knowledgeable about our desperation to fill the void that comes with it. Thus, he comes and repaints what isn’t good for us with such a beautiful brush, making it appealing. Some have found themselves in illicit affairs, not knowing how to break free from them, while others who initially harbored no desire towards the same sex, now find themselves in such relationships. It would only take God's spirit and wisdom to snap us out of that fantastical world.
Zain and Alisha continue to spend a lot of time together in hotels, motels, and on sea. Her cousin, his fiancé is unaware, as is her boyfriend, her cousin's best friend, because their relationship isn't great to begin with. As such, they can't get enough of this forbidden apple, which melts so perfectly on their tongues. But as the popular saying in Nigeria goes, awoof dey run bele, the enemy would soon come for his pound of flesh.
Alisha soon discovers she is pregnant and begins to demand exclusivity, threatening to blow their cover if her terms are not met. "Give me only six months, and I will break things off with her," Zain begs. Alisha pulls Zain aside and speaks with him one day at a party where both women are present. Tia then starts calling for Zain to join her on the dance floor. Alisha gives Zain a deathly stare. He's perplexed. He then assures her that they will discuss whatever her issues were at a later time. She is not content. "Are you willing to destroy your relationship with your sister over a man?" I wondered.
We all know that the drama isn't going to end with that one sister. If your siblings are anything like mine, they will tell you that you fall hand sha! Is any of it worthwhile? There are many men out there; if she was tired of her relationship, all she had to do was end it. However, as the saying goes, forbidden fruit is always sweet.
As if the matters Zain had on his plate weren’t enough, he begins having problems with his business. When one of his investors is arrested for fraud, the line of credit is cut off. Guy, stop sleeping with Alisha, and meet your fiancée to help us, she get money, his business partner advises. "I want to break up with her," he refused. His partner scoffed, telling him to focus on the game and forget about Alisha. He tries to get another investor, who swears he will never help them over his dead body.
As such, he's backed into a corner. He is under pressure from his partner to go meet Tia for assistance, while Alisha is putting pressure on him to end his relationship with Tia. Tia begins to suspect him of cheating when he suddenly begins to treat her nicely. She accuses him of only wanting her for her money. He snaps and flips the table over. Tia begs him not to end their relationship, and they reconcile. But how will he then get Alisha off his case? He needs Tia to save his business.
One cool evening on a yacht with Alisha, after convincing her that he had left Tia, she came across some messages from both of them, selecting a wedding venue in Tuscany, while he was away in the kitchen, planning something sinister. She notices him putting something in her drink as she storms to the back of the boat to confront him. She quickly returns to the front of the boat and begins dialing Tia's number. Tia does not respond. He then appears, holding two cups, and offers her one of them. She refuses, claiming she has a stomach ache and wishes to return home.
Tia then calls, and Zain notices his fiancé's name on his soon-to-be baby mama's phone and he tries to snatch the phone from her. She fights back, and he begins to choke her. While they tussle, he slips and falls over the yacht, hits his head and drowns….
This film's overarching theme (at least for me) is that lust is never for you. I'm reminded of a passage in the book of James (1:15) that says that when sin matures, it gives birth to death. And we may scoff at scripture, asking, "How can this my small sin lead to death?" In the end, it may be the final death, that eternal separation from God, when we make it a habit to continue sinning, causing our hearts to harden. And, as seen in this film, our minor transgressions can sometimes result in physical death here on Earth.
Lust is never for you; it appears as something good, something great, something you can't live without, all of which are lies from the enemy. To combat this, the bible says that one of the fruits of the spirit is self-control, and if we can control our bodies, we will be able to overcome temptation. We are also reminded that we do not have a high priest who does not understand our frailties. So, whenever we feel weak, we should cry out to God, and God will hear us because, unlike lust, He is for us and wants us to be holy.
In Genesis 4: 6-7, God is found saying to Cain, “…and if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” What God forewarned Cain about became his reality when he murdered his brother and was forced to live as a fugitive for the rest of his life, estranged from his family. The story of David and Bathsheba also comes to mind, in which one decision to sleep with another man's wife resulted in murder, the death of a baby, and the destabilization of a family. Everything happened because a king wanted to satisfy his lustful desire.
A similar thread can be found in the life of Samson, a biblical hero who could defeat an entire army by himself. His disobedience to God's word, however, led to his untimely death. And let us not forget Eve, whom we all like to blame when we are in pain; she, too, fell victim to the enemy's trickery. Cain's mother chose the enemy's word over God's word, and we are still dealing with the consequences of her disobedience to this day.
“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.” CS Lewis
This movie which was released early this year, is currently streaming on Prime video worldwide.
PS: Because this film contains profanity and some sexual scenes, viewers should exercise caution.
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