After few screenings and revisions, Jalal Jonroy finally released his romantic comedy, David and Layla, to theaters. Like most of his fellow countrymen in Diaspora, Jonroy has not forgotten the unfair treatment of the people of his origin and remains devoted to their plight throughout the movie. To make his case more tangible by general public and entertainment industry in the West, he pairs another maltreated ethnic group with the people of his origin. Both ethnicities have remained preoccupied with their past traumas, fears, and prejudices. While one of them with a population of 15 millions has been represented by a modern state for the past few decades, the other with a population of 30 to 40 millions still remains stateless in the 21st century.
In David and Layla, David Moscow plays the role of David, the main male character, flawlessly, as he can identify himself fully with the name, the people, and the culture he is representing. Layla, on the other hand is played by Shiva Rose, a talented and beautiful actress who is not familiar with the background of the people she is assigned to represent. It is difficult for Rose to read a two line poem or even greet normally in the language of the people she is representing. However, in her role she seems to do a much better job than those who claim to be representing the stateless people in the Iraqi, Iranian, Turkish, and Syrian parliaments.
Jonroy freely expresses his understanding of the pain afflicted by Arab dictators on his people, a fact that Jews could easily relate to. He is clever and does not want to make the Arab world angry, so he processes his guilt by being politically correct and acknowledging that some Palestinians are also entitled to have a state, even if Israeli extremists disagree. To remind the Armenians about their common traumatic experience with the people of his origin, Jonroy openly criticizes the past crimes of the Turkish regimes, who happen to be friends of Israel. Surprisingly Jonroy avoids criticizing Iranian regimes too harshly, either because he can not afford to do so, or he is not aware that those regimes have traumatized his people softly but deeply and caused them an internal bleeding instead of a visible wound.
Jonroy portrays the two main ethnic groups in his movie as proud people. In regard to representation of his own people he comes short and instead of Ahmad e Xani one of the greatest 17th century poet and writer, he depicts Saladin, “the world’s most noble and generous military leader”, as somebody that his people should be proud of, although this 12 century warrior promoted rather the heritage of neighboring Arabs instead of his own. However, he rightfully identifies Einstein and Freud as the 20th century Jewish brains, whose work contributed to the world’s technological evolution and sexual liberation, which are still lacking in the land of his stateless people. Then again Jonroy does his people a great service by reminding them that Ziryab, the great musician of the 9th century is one of their geniuses.
In short, this 108-minute film is “about history, culture, tragedy, arts and crafts”, as Jonroy himself put it. It reminds us that differences of opinion and love could exist simultaneously, and the latter breaks the cultural, ideological, and political boundaries. Although some of our fellow Kissingerian and fanatic citizens might disagree, I believe this artistic movie deserves a big applause for bringing love and hate as well as heritage and faith to the attention of public in a humorous intercultural romantic comedy. I wouldn’t miss seeing it again before it is taken away from the theaters.
Dr. Artin maintains www.art-in-mind.net and hopes the readers sign a petition on the site dedicated to his stateless people!�