Sadia Noor Joya, our resident film critic, offers a delectable array of old and new Bengali movies to keep you company this Xmas.
By Sadia Noor Joya
Holidays are here again to boost us while we take a break from our monotonous lives. Below is a list of 5 Bengali movies ranging from various genres, one of them being featured in honor of the Victory Day of Bangladesh. Allow us to provide movie recommendations to satisfy the different tastes of people. Let’s dive quickly into what we can watch this time of the year!
Amar Bondhu Rashed: Released in 2011; Directed by Morshedul Islam; Genre: War
Adopted from Dr. Muhammad Zafar Iqbal’s book, Amar Bondhu Rashed, this movie was partially funded by a grant from the Government of Bangladesh and is based on the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh – focusing mainly on the contribution of teenage freedom fighters who fought for the motherland.
“Rashed,” the teenage boy, is the center of attraction of the movie because of his bold attempts, unusual behavior and queer stories about his father, which he emphasizes by repetitively saying, “Amar abba aktu pagol kisim er manush toh,”that translates to “My father is sort of a crazy guy.”
To me, it is a classic treat to satisfy the fun times of childhood incidents back in a small town and at the same time serves as the perfect depiction of the miserable conditions of the teenage freedom fighters who let go of their aspirations of the future and jumped to the battlefield to free the land of Bangladesh and gain victory. It also conveys the true meaning of patriotism and highlights the intangible asset known as friendship. The movie greatly developed the essence of patriotism in me and left a personal impact on me with the question, what would have I done if I were in their shoes?
SOS Kolkata: Released in 2020; Directed by Anshuman Pratyush; Genre Action/Thriller
The movie films the sensitive issue of Islamic jihad and unfolds the genuine aspects Islam teaches, of being kind and strictly prohibiting violence against others.
As destiny turns the tables, Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) leader Zakir Ahmed and terrorist Aftab Ansari cross each other’s paths once again after the tragic incidences that Zakir faced. Now Aftab emerges in Kolkata, leading a group of jihadis to seek vengeance for the Mumbai attacks. While Aftab successfully conducts a number of attacks in Kolkata and takes over the JW Marriott, Zakir works with the ATS technical head Amanda Jones to free the glorious land of Kolkata from the clutches of the jihadis.
The remarkable part of the movie is the unison of ATS officers, police officers, and local residents to fight wholeheartedly against people who are wrong. Also, the dialogue, “Jihad er nam e manush ke boka banale ar Islam er gaye crime er daag lagale ki shasti pawa uchit, ami toke sheta shekhabo,” which translates to, “I will teach what sort of punishment you will get if you fool people in the name of jihad and present Islam in the wrong way by associating crime with it,” has been widely appreciated by the audience and definitely by me, which is the principal reason that made me decide to watch the movie.
No Dorai: Released in 2019; Directed by Taneem Rahman Anshu; Genre Drama
Being the first movie of Bangladesh based on surfing and inspired from the real-life story of the first female surfer in Bangladesh, Nasima Akhter, it is picturized on the beautiful landmark of Cox’s Bazaar. It features our main character Ayesha, a young girl who is strongly determined to go against the poverty-stricken family of hers and the typical stereotypes of the rural Bangladeshi society to fight for making her restricted dream of surfing come true.
The movie delivers the message of not giving up, even when the entire world is pulling you from behind; it’s about battling against them with a one-man army, confidently and fearlessly. Hence, No Dorai, the Chittagong dialect which means “Not Being Afraid” seems the perfectly apt movie title to me.
Switzerland: Released in 2020; Directed by Sauvik Kundu; Genre Family Drama
Being the directional debut project of Indian Bengali Sauvik Kundu, it is a family drama containing a dash of humor to keep things easy throughout the movie alongside representing the true image of a typical Bengali middle-class family. This family has to cut down on their daily expenses in order to go to Switzerland for a vacation and explore this unique place for the first time ever among anyone in their family.
I loved how the sweet chemistry of Shibu and Rumi, the workaholic couple, was presented, even after a long time of their marriage, which is a stark reminder for the audience that love does not die if you handle it with utmost care. Also, it was adorable to watch the pleasant children-parent relationship, the sacrifices every parent makes for us children in order to fulfill our temptations and aspirations. This was portrayed very nicely in the film by the two cute little angels called Riya and Diya. So how exactly would it look like to walk along a track full of struggles and constant challenges to reach one’s ambition?
Made in Bangladesh: Released in 2019; Directed by Rubaiyat Hossain; Genre Drama
Along with demonstrating the behind scenes of the revolutionary and popular export sector, garments industry of Bangladesh, it is yet another movie highlighting the typical shackles of some of the backdated mindsets of the Bangladeshi society.
Despite her husband’s warnings and violent threats from her workplace, Shimu, who came to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in her childhood in search of fortunate luck, decides to take a stand for herself and her fellow women coworkers by organizing them when her boss refuses to pay them for their hard-worked service at the workplace, that is the clothing factory.
I believe this has to be a strong visual of bravery when she lacks the weapons of financial support and a rich educational background. It is interesting to see her combat with the mighty people only with her strong determination.