Vol. 5 Num 651 Tue. March 28, 2006  

Morshedul Islam's Khelaghar
Of love and war on celluloid

Filmmakers have diversely depicted our Liberation War. By and large, the war has been portrayed either explicitly through direct war scenes or implicitly by featuring a story of that time.

Director Morshedul Islam's latest movie, Khelaghar (Doll's house), falls in the second category. Based on Mahmudul Haque's novel of the same name, the film depicts the Liberation War against the backdrop of a love story.

Khelaghar is set against the backdrop of rural Bangladesh, when the war had broken out in 1971. The focus is on a discussion of two friends, Yakub (Riaz) and Mukul (Arman Parvez). The story takes a new turn when Yakub receives a letter from his friend seeking shelter for his sister, Rehana (Sohana Saba). Rehana subsequently begins to stay with Yakub. From then on, Morshedul Islam's movie unravels this love affair.

Screen-playwright Morshed has over emphasised the love story. In the process, the spirit of the Liberation War as well as the dark past of the girl, her torture by the Pakistani Military, when they attacked Rokeya Hall, Dhaka University on the night of March 25, 1971, is almost lost. These facts come to light at the end of the film when Rehana's elder brother takes her away from Yakub.

The cinematography, especially the portrayal of the natural beauty of rural Bangladesh and the use of symbolic shots, deserve plaudits. However, the costumes, utensils and crockery used in the movie are not reflective of that era. Sometimes it appears that Khelaghar is set against the backdrop of a love story of contemporary times.

Arman Parvez in the role of Mukul has performed well. And his characterisation of a rural schoolmaster, who secretly helps the freedom fighters, is credible. However, young actor Sohana Saba does not fit the persona of the character Rehana, who presents the face of a vivacious girl to mask and forget her torture at the hands of the Pakistani Army.

Renowned film actor Riaz has not done justice to the role of Yakub. For instance, he has failed to capture the transformation of Yakub's psyche during his stay with Rehana in an abandoned house at a corner of the village for two days, which leads him to become a freedom fighter.

Khelaghar was premiered on March 26 at Balaka movie theatre. In the midst of many mediocre and vulgar films, Morsedul Islam's Khelaghra gives us the hope of better days.

Riaz and debutante Sohana Saba in a scene from the film Khela