My weekend movie marathon came to a satisfying climax. As amazing as “The Amazing Spiderman”, or as sophisticated as “The Ides of March”, I couldn’t resist putting the uniquely crafted “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” on top of the review list I’m planning to do this week. Its catchy title has certainly enticed me with curiosity. Yet, if not for a Behind the Scene I watched on E! reassuring me that it wouldn’t be a boring movie, I might not go for it thinking that it might be one too heavy to follow.
It all started when Dr. Alfred “Fred” Jones (played by Ewan McGregor, “Mulan Rouge”), a scientist and fishery expert working in a government research facility, received an e-mail from Harriet Talbot (played by Emily Blunt, “The Devil Wears Prada”), a PR consultant of a wealthy Yemeni shaykh, asking the Doctor to lead a somewhat impossible project of introducing salmon fishing in the Yemen. Although his initial reply was negative, stating all probable reasons why the task was relatively, if not completely, absurd, Fred softened his rejection after a series of factual arguments presented by the unexpectedly smart and witty Harriet.
The British Prime Minister, which then required a diversion from public spotlight on the wars in Afghanistan, assigned his trusted press secretary, Patricia Maxwell, to figure out another potentially great media highlight. When the “salmon fishing” idea came to her notice, she wasn’t immediately excited about it until she found out the fact that there were more than two million anglers in the British islands. The shaykh’s peculiar proposal had, since then, become a government matter of importance, with which Fred was threatened to lose his job should he refused to take it up.
Reluctant, he began his preliminary liaisons with Harriet anyway, to list out what he would need to make the project successful. Underestimating the shaykh’s power to deliver what Fred would consider “high calibers” – e.g. consultation with prominent engineers from China, large waterhole in the middle of the deserted region – he started all skeptic and unmotivated, especially due to his wife’s pressure and absence.
Fred’s positive outlook was initiated by his familiarity with the shaykh himself, when he fulfilled his highness’ invitation to spend a few days at his palatial home in Scotland, fishing and sharing noble values with each other. It was here when Fred’s respect and love for the shaykh began to grow. He discovered that the man’s visions and excellent manners were so much astounding, nothing of the popular belief that Muslims were strict, forceful, and narrow-minded.
I still remember a conversation, between Fred and the shaykh, that took place while they were having dinner. The shaykh was asking of Fred’s religion, and Fred answered saying, “I’m more to facts and figures,” i.e. not religious. What struck me to amazement was when the shaykh elegantly responded, “How strange? How can you say that you are not a man of faith, yet you love fishing?” The audience were puzzled, and the shaykh continued, “If you are indeed a man of facts and figures, you wouldn’t enjoy fishing. How much time have you wasted for fishing, not knowing when and whether you would catch one?”
“Therefore, to enjoy fishing, you certainly have faith,” the shaykh smiled and so did Fred, who only realised of the new finding of himself he had just made.
After this point of the movie, the shaykh has become a pivotal character leading to the whole unfolding of miracles and lessons on the universality of love and kindness. How he gracefully resolved issues; how he compassionately cared for his companions – man or women, with faith or wihout; and how he instilled wisdoms through humility in his friendships had been amongst my objects of fascination. Yes, this is truly Islam!
No doubt the shaykh’s noble intention, introducing this relaxing and uplifting sport to the Yemeni, in a hope that they would engage themselves with other than wars and violence, didn’t get a good response from the extremists, who were, as I said earlier, “narrow-minded” to the idea of developing mutually benefitting cooperation with the West. Nevertheless, even after an attempted murder on the shaykh, the team persisted with their aspiration.
The “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” has shone a different light to the noble practice of dignified Muslims and the not-so-noble attitude of politicians and members of the Government. Portrayal of the YM chatting between the Prime Minister and his press secretary and ingenuine press events have only reminded me of how much we have often been misled by admiring, or even idolising, a public figure or a superior.
Unlike any other romantic drama, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” has been enriched with quality content, so much so that we’d forget that it’s a romantic drama at the first place. While most love stories revolve around the relationship between the two love birds, this particular movie highlights the overall efforts of introducing salmons into the Yemeni waters and significant roles that took part in its success.
Yes, it is true that just like any other romantic drama, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” has a typical ending: Fred and Harriet separated from each of their partners and decided to join hands, as a couple, continuing the salmon fishing project there, on the Yemeni soil. However, the miraculous power of faith still championed!
Despite bombing attempts by disliking extremists, which had ruined the salmons’ waterways and therefore caused thousands of salmons to die, hope prevailed. The fact that some salmons were found alive had only pushed Fred to not give up and start over the whole re-building locally, inviting the locals to participate, breeding the salmons in their waters and teaching them the new sport. Hope is always there!