10 Titles Proving That 2021 Was a Great Year for Bangladeshi Cinema

by Fahmidul Haq

Tareque Masud’s “Matir Moina” (2002) was the primary movie from Bangladesh that was screened in Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight part and gained the FIPRESCI award collectively with Elia Suleiman’s “Divine Intervention”. However it’s Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s second characteristic “Rehana Maryam Noor” (RMN, 2021), the primary movie from the South Asian cinephile nation to be formally chosen at Cannes, competing within the ‘Un Sure Regard’ class. The director of the movie additionally bagged the Jury Grand Prize from Asia-Pacific Display screen Award the place the lead actress Azmeri Haque Badhon earned the award of the Finest Efficiency by an Actress. Badhon was additionally included within the quick record of ‘Selection’s Worldwide Breakout Stars of 2021’. Bangladeshi actors Chanchal Chowdhury, Mosharraf Karim and Badhon have expanded their stardom in 2021 by performing in net sequence launched in Indian OTTs. Jaya Ahsan continued her already established performing profession each in Dhaka and Kolkata-based Indian business. 

RMN was not just one commendable Bangladesh’s worldwide success in 2021. Kamar Ahmad Simon’s fiction-looking non-fiction “Day After…” represented Bangladesh in competitors on the high-ranking competition, IDFA: Worldwide Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. The celebrated Busan Movie Pageant 2021 obtained three submissions from Bangladesh – Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s worldwide movie “No Land’s Man”, Mohammad Rabby Mridha’s debut characteristic “No Floor Beneath the Toes”, and RMN. After visiting the competition circuit in 2020 in London, Busan, Guttenberg, Singapore, Seattle and Turin in 2020, Rezwan Shahriar Sumit’s “The Salt in Our Water” obtained theatrical launch in 2021. “Rickshaw Lady” is a brand new type of expertise for any Bangladeshi movie since a US unbiased producer approached Bangladeshi director Amitabh Reza Chowdhury to make a movie for them.   

The arrival of the OTT platform Chorki is a major occasion within the cine circuit of Bangladesh. It began working in the course of the 12 months and inside a brief time frame, it obtained immense recognition at dwelling in addition to overseas, particularly amongst Bengali audiences dwelling worldwide. A number of OTTs have been working in Bangladesh for just a few years, however Chorki appeared as the primary platform with an expert look and strategy that offered high quality content material, which included various cinematic varieties akin to characteristic movies, net sequence, anthology, documentary and quick movies. Amongst all, Chorki’s thriller drama “Unoloukik”, an anthology of 5 quick tales, was novel as a textual content and gorgeous in cinematic remedy. Bangladeshi administrators additionally made content material for Indian OTTs this 12 months akin to Zee5 and Hoichoi. Internet sequence like “Mahanagar” by Ashfaq Nipun and “Women and Gents” by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki are two instances that created buzz among the many spectators from each Bangladesh and India. 2021 was additionally the 12 months when the Indian spectators, particularly the Bengalis positioned in West Bengal, India began taking a look at Bangladeshi contents with shock and amusement, whereas earlier than, the circulation of content material was largely a technique – touring from Kolkata, West Bengal, in the direction of Bangladesh, each formally and informally. 

The principle studio BFDC was already struggling, the surge of Covid-19 enhanced the autumn additional. All mentionable contents had been produced both from unbiased sectors or from the newly emerged OTT business. Two unbiased movies didn’t convey success internationally however had been appreciated by the critics and cine buffs for his or her unconventional tales and progressive cinematic remedies. These titles are “Chandrabati Katha” by N Rashed Chowdhury and “Laal Moroger Jhuti” by Nurul Alam Atique. Prosoon Rahman’s “Dhaka Dream” can also be a poignant story of inside migration of commoners from the peripheral Bangladesh to the middle of the nation, the capital metropolis Dhaka. A number of extra movies had been made with a blended strategy of studio and various manufacturing strategies. Nevertheless, the commercially motivated police story “Mission Excessive” directed by Sunny Sanwar and Faisal Ahmed did properly domestically and obtained restricted theatrical launch within the UK. 

Listed here are transient critiques of the ten chosen titles made in 2021 in Bangladesh amongst which “No Land’s Man”, “Day After…”  and “Rickshaw Lady” have began touring to worldwide festivals and have but to get theatrical launch in Bangladesh.       

1. Rehana Maryam Noor (dir. Abdullah Mohammad Saad)

Assistant professor at a medical faculty Rehana vehemently protests towards a male colleague for abusing a feminine scholar sexually. Nevertheless, to keep away from the social stigma, the coed is unwilling to launch any grievance and asks Rehana to not transfer ahead. Rehana, nevertheless, is adamant to punish the perpetrator. She alters her technique and submits a written grievance to the principal of the school the place she describes herself because the sufferer. She additionally tells the story to the spouse of the colleague, inciting her to go away her husband. There’s a counter blow too. It isn’t solely the school authority’s reluctance to take any steps in response to the grievance, additionally the scholars are agitated as Rehana expelled one  from the exams, for a negligible offense. Rehana is struggling in her private life too. She is a single mom and accountable to run an enormous household consisting of previous dad and mom and an unemployed brother, as the one incomes member of the household. The authority from her daughter’s college signifies she isn’t an attentive mom as there have been complaints towards her daughter’s irregular conduct. The movie ends with Rehana’s merciless motion by locking her daughter in a room, forbidding her from taking part in a cultural present on the college. 

Set completely within the claustrophobic surroundings of the school’s rooms and corridors, RMN is a chamber drama of the ambivalent lead character Rehana who’s vocal about one scholar’s sexual abuse by a college member, and the identical time, she expels one other scholar for not-so-strong causes. Some experiments with the blue filter, additional use of shut pictures and jerky hand-held digicam and ambient sound add to the movie’s subtext, which calls for additional consideration from the spectators. 

2. Onnyodin… (Day After…, dir. Kamar Ahmad Simon)

In a two-day river commute from the capital Dhaka to the Khulna area, Kamar Ahmad Simon chronicles the journey as a story of latest Bangladesh and observes the entwine of politics, courses and character varieties on the deck. The presence of some western vacationers within the ‘Rocket Steamer’ enable Simon to increase the examination of sophistication distinction in the direction of cultural variations between the East and the West. 

IDFA web site describes the characteristic themed documentary as ‘a kaleidoscopic movie framing the wealthy and poor, younger and previous, East and West crossing valleys and mists, unknowing of alluring abyss.” Day After… is the second movie of Simon’s water trilogy.  The primary one, “Are You Listening!” (2014) was the grand prix winner at Cinema du Reel, France.   

3. No Land’s Man (dir. Mostofa Sarwar Farooki)

“No Land’s Man” is Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s first English-language movie which is a co-production of Bangladesh, India and USA. The theme of the movie is world too – the problems of identification and racism that evolve across the immigrants, from the worldwide south in a Northern setting. The movie casts veteran Indian actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, whereas background scores are composed by Oscar-winning Indian musician A R Rahman (they’re additionally co-producers of the movie).    

Siddiqui performs the function of a person from South Asia whose world journey extends from Australia to the USA as an immigrant. His vulnerability will increase because of his incidents from the previous; he can’t inform the reality about himself. After arriving in New York in 2017, he lies about his title, nationality, faith, household and his previous. His tragic and surprisingly humorous journey will get extra complicated when he takes a job in a Manhattan restaurant and there, he meets a warm-hearted and pleasant white woman, who’s his co-worker. 

The movie has began its world journey with a nomination from Busan Movie Pageant for the Kim Jiseok Award. Much more festivals or world releases are awaiting.  

4. Rickshaw Lady (dir. Amitabh Reza Chowdhury)

After the favored crime drama “Aynabaji” (2016), Amitabh Reza’s second characteristic try obtained a producer from the USA. Tailored from the acclaimed novel of the identical title by Mitali Perkins, “Rickshaw Lady” is a narrative of a courageous and decided teenage woman Naima who leaves her small village for the bustling metropolis of Dhaka when her father turns into severely sick. She cleverly disguises herself as a boy and takes the troublesome job of a rickshaw puller. Nevertheless, within the huge metropolis, Naima faces financial, societal, and gender obstacles like some other emigrated ladies from the village. Whereas her battle goes on, she takes refuge in her inventive world and builds her personal narratives via ‘Rickshaw Portray’, Bangladesh’s personal style of portray. When her gender is revealed and her job isat stake, Naima finds an unconventional resolution to her issues. 

The USA-Bangladesh joint manufacturing is an inspiring story that delineates the vitality and dedication of hundreds of thousands of working-class and younger Bangladeshi ladies. The depiction of the struggling but colourful world of the working-class universe and a few surrealist remedy by the director provoke some energy within the storyline.       

5. Chandrabati Katha (The Story of Chandrabati, dir. N Rashed Chowdhury)

Set in sixteenth century Jap Bengal, the movie is impressed by the lifetime of Chandrabati, Bengal’s first feminist poet. Poet Dijabangshi Das’s daughter falls for an additional younger poet Jayananda; each had been disciples of the daddy. Jayananda, who later leaves Chandrabati for an additional lady. The betrayal pushes Chandrabati to stay single, confining herself inside a Shiva temple and there she begins rewriting the Ramayana. The deconstruction of the unique Ramayana ultimately led to her turning into a historic determine in Bengali literature. Chandrabati retells the story of the nice Indian epic from Sita’s perspective, ignoring the glory of its male chauvinist protagonist Rama.  

The narrative strategy of the movie may be very important, and derives from the native theatrical style Pala, scroll work in addition to the literary custom of Mymensingha Geetika. The director’s try to create a visible language of his personal, by adapting native varieties onto the digicam, is exemplary.        

6. Lal Moroger Jhuti (The Name of the Purple Rooster, dir. Nurul Alam Atique)

In the course of the 1971 Liberation Warfare, a troupe of the Pakistani military arrives in a northern sub-divisional city, to renovate an airbase constructed throughout World Warfare II. They compel widespread Bengalis to rebuild the airport and deal with them as prisoners. A number of native non-Bengalis collaborate with the army to repress the widespread Bengalis.  

The oppression and brutality of the Pakistani army was challenged by the liberty fighters that embrace ladies too. Shot completely in black and white, the storyline of the interval piece revolves round each the dominant narrative of the Liberation Warfare but in addition tends to transcend it.  

7. Unoloukik (dir. Robiul Alam Robi)

“Unoloukik” (that means quasi-real) is an anthology of quick movies launched in Bangladeshi OTT platform Chorki. Robiul Alam Robi adapts 5 totally different quick tales written by Shibabrata Barman, all of which have one factor in widespread – they transgress realities or the incidents are weirdly inconceivable. The tagline of the movie(s), as described within the promotional flier, is “5 unprecedented totally different tales within the maze of phantasm and reality”. To me, some generic traits are evident within the tales – psychological drama, darkish thriller and coincidences. 

Within the first movie, “Moribar Holo Tar Swad”, the male protagonist desires to kill himself. His psychiatrist sends him to a banquet the place he meets 9 extra individuals who additionally need to die. Amongst all, just one will probably be fortunate to die immediately by consuming poisoned meals. After seeing somebody dying, the protagonist’s constructive vibe for all times comes again. However his regained vitality to dwell doesn’t final lengthy as he sees the useless man once more in actual life.  

In “Hi there Women”, a actuality present anchor sees the spectators via TV units. In that means, she witnesses an occasion of home abuse resulting in unintended homicide. She reaches the house of the incident and meets the husband.  

In “Mrs Prohelika”, a feminine affected person meets a male psychologist in his chamber on a wet evening. He has a film to catch at 9 pm and the affected person has a sleeping dysfunction. The dialog between the 2 ends with an incident of thriller. 

The protagonist of “Don’t Write Me”, has obtained a job within the press within the metropolis, after fleeing from the gangsters of his small city. He discovers in a publication that he’s a personality from a brief story. He tracks down the writer and insists that he writes a cheerful ending.

A stranger within the police station tells some totally different tales to the officer in “Dikhondito”. The tales vary from a mountaineering debate to the Partition of India and to corruption inside the authorities, in addition to censorship. The stranger asks the officer to attach the dots among the many tales and it’s revealed that the stranger is in two locations on the similar time – he’s sitting within the police station however he’s additionally main a heist. 

8. Nonajoler Kabyo (The Salt in Our Waters, dir. Rezwan Shahriar Sumit)

Younger sculptor Rudro arrives in a coastal village with an enormous field stuffed with sculptures and sculpting instruments. He begins dwelling there to complete his tasks. He makes a younger lady and village boys his mates and begins educating sculpture to them. Nevertheless, the chairman who’s administrative in addition to the non secular chief of the village and likewise controls the fishing enterprise within the space, contemplate Rudra’s sculpture as idolatry.  The strain between Rudro and Chairman mounts and the latter blames Rudro’s sculptures for his or her disappearing fish shares within the sea. Issues begin altering after the cyclone incited by local weather change hits the coast.  

Set within the sea-shore of the Bay of Bengal, the movie depicts the straightforward life-style of the poor fishing group with gorgeous cinematography. Rudra’s arrival as an exterior change agent is likely to be thought of imposing as an ideological equipment, however the problem of ‘inventive sculpture’ versus ‘statues for idolatry’ may be very a lot related in in the present day’s tradition and politics in Bangladesh.    

9. Dhaka Dream (dir, Proshoon Rahman)

40 individuals in an inter-district bus are heading in the direction of Dhaka, the final word middle of every little thing in Bangladesh. Among the many passengers, the prior tales of 10 individuals are prolonged because the bus reaches the bustling metropolis. The ten tales consistof all kinds of characters – scholar, intercourse employee, unemployed, blind beggar, killer, rickshaw puller, barber, contestant at a actuality present and newly homeless man who misplaced his home because of river erosion. All of them didn’t discover any hope of life within the locations they had been rooted. These outlying individuals come to the capital metropolis with desires. However their desires flip right into a nightmare within the ruthless sin metropolis.

Proshoon Rahmaan’s “Dhaka Dream” could be seen as an experiment in narrative method as 10 totally different tales are introduced collectively within the 11th story, which has a typical plot level.

10. Mission Excessive (dir. Sunny Sanwar and Faisal Ahmed)

“Mission Excessive” is the sequel of the superhit police story “Dhaka Assault” (2017). One of many writers and producers of the latter, Sunny Sanwar, seems right here because the co-director. By “Dhaka Assault”, Bangladesh police loosely obtained related to take a position cash to create an audiovisual saga of their honesty and bravado, not the standard impression related to native Pressure. 

After bringing down the person behind the Dhaka Assault, the Head of the Bomb Disposal Unit, Abid Rahman learns {that a} terrorist assault is about to happen in Bangladesh. This time, the conspiracy towards Bangladesh is designed from Dubai. The smartness and intelligence of the particular items of Bangladesh police have been portrayed within the movie with dynamic digicam actions. The movie was additionally launched in some theaters within the UK. 

Fahmidul Haq is visiting professor at Bard Faculty, USA and teaches movie and media. His ebook titles embrace Cinema of Bangladesh: A Transient Historical past (2020, Nokta) and Id Nationhood and Bangladesh Impartial Cinema (forthcoming in 2022, Routledge). 

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