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Taqwacores, The (DVD Review)

6 Mar, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Prebook 3/8/11; Street 4/5/11
Box Office $0.009 million
$24.99 DVD
Not rated.

In the heart of Buffalo, N.Y., is a punk Islam subculture that Yusef (Bobby Naderi), an unassuming, Pakistani-American college student, is thrust into when he moves into an off-campus house with fellow Muslims.

Within those graffiti-laden walls, however, Yusef is in for a shock, as his housemates’ drug use, drinking, sexual promiscuity and partying blatantly contradict their supposed love of Allah and his teachings. Yusef quickly learns about Taqwacore, the hardcore Muslim punk rock scene in which the housemates are immersed. The motley crew represents an amalgam of disenfranchised segments of society: Muslims say they’re not real Muslims, and punks say they’re not real punks.

Director Eyad Zahra presents a fascinating look at this real-life subculture in The Taqwacores.

There’s straightedge Umar (Nav Mann), whose contempt for his wild roommates makes him an outcast. Amazing Ayyub (Volkan Eryman) rarely is seen wearing a shirt, and Fasiq (Ian Tran), the Indonesian, pot-loving skateboarder, is a complete anomaly. Rabeya (Noureen Dewulf), the only female in the house, wears a head-to-toe burqa yet is vocal about frustrations with the Quran’s views about women. Jehangir (Dominic Rains), donning a red mohawk and a studded, leather jacket, serves as the leader of the pack.

Feeling an urgency to return to religion, Jehangir organizes Friday prayer at the house, wherein each member takes turns leading sermons — not to be overshadowed by the regular Friday night bashes. While the housemates can’t even agree on their religion, they each possess a sincere desire to practice Islam, on their own terms. As the seasons change, the group draws closer to their faith. Eventually, the straight-laced Yusef loosens up as his housemates challenge his ideologies.

The bonus material includes deleted scenes and a short-and-sweet behind-the-scenes featurette showing just how interesting life was on set.

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