A good film will always make the desired impact whatever its length and genre. Henna is the story of Reina (Zainab Bala) who is frantically fighting, so she does not end up like Amina (Maryam Bala) who has been ostracized because she contracted Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) after becoming a victim of early marriage.
Ishaya Bako (Fuelling Poverty, Braids on a Bald Head) confronts this monster with a film that integrates a lot of information with quality entertainment such that Henna is more plausible than Stephanie Okereke’s Dry, a feature film, which tells a similar story. In the former, VVF is depicted as an ailment that manifests as urinary incontinence while the latter erroneously handles it as a bed-wetting disease.
Reina understands her Islamic religion and tells her suitor what the Prophet says in the Holy Book, which is that everyone has the right of choice when it comes to marriage. The film’s dialogue is brilliant in several places. Reina asks why God punishes only girls to which Amina replies, “God didn’t do this to me.” Reina further inquires, “Why did God create men to destroy what he (God) created?”
The classrooms seen in Henna restate the need for improvement in teaching methods and the provision of modern teaching aids in Nigerian schools, especially the public ones.
There are a few unclear incidents in Henna. Can students walk out of the classroom when a teacher is still teaching just because the bell is rung? Usually, they will allow the teacher to round off and dismiss the class.
In the closing scene, the students look uptight. A classroom is hardly that way, especially when the teacher is facing the blackboard. When the girl falls, the young man she is talking with offers no help and does not say ‘sorry’ or even ‘it’s a pity’.
Henna is a brilliantly enacted 21-minute film with an unpredictable resolution; two thumps up to Ishaya Bako, the Afrinolly Cinema for Change Series and the Ford Foundation for this film.