Bangladeshi Cinema: Television @ NFSA

Bangladeshi Cinema: Television @ NFSA

Director: Mostofa Sarwar FAROOKI, Bangladesh, 106mins, DCP

In a Bangladesh village isolated by rivers, irrigation canals and tradition, elder Amin (Shahir Kazi Huda) sees it as his job to point the moral compass of community life; with a firm hand and in keeping with the Koranic values as he sees them. Yet the outside world keeps butting in. The village kids would rather watch television than learn about Islamic tradition (when Amin bans TV sets in Muslim homes they all enrol in the Christian school). Amin begins to realise the problem is imagination — and so consults with his imams about banning that as well. He’s an immovable object standing in the way of global culture’s irresistible force – until television itself comes to the rescue of Amin’s wounded pride and faith.

Bengali cinema culture gave the world at least two of the most respected names in Indian cinema – Satjyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. However since the 1990s, the modern ‘Dhallywood’ cinema of West Bengali Bangladesh has been largely eclipsed by Hindi movie mania and by the ubiquity of satellite TV. Now a new generation of TV drama-trained Bangladeshi filmmakers are beginning to make their mark on international film festivals. Television’s charm comes from its light touch: its nimble shifts between comedy, gentle irony, reality, and magic realism. Yet in its final scene it gains a power beyond whimsical village comedy, with a denouement (as Elder Amin get his comeuppance) that has the pathos of the late great works of Shakespeare, Dickens – or even Satyajit Ray.

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