Vol. 5 Num 669 Mon. April 17, 2006  

Bidrohi Padma
The eternal conflict between haves and have-nots

Bidrohi Padma, ntv's maiden feature film, was released recently. Widely publicised, the movie directed by Badol Khandokar is claimed to be a quality production.

Based on a literary work by Askar Ibne Shaikh, the film, set in the Pakistan-era (1950's), delineates the perpetual conflict between the haves and have-nots, fragile harmony between communities of different faiths and the perilous lives of people living by the (once mighty) river Padma.

The lead characters in the film are diverse: A nefarious zamindar constantly devising "brilliant" plans to crush the locals, a reformed lathial and his wife, a gayen (folk singer), a teacher and a widow.

Though the British Raaj is over, the zamindar still feels that he owns everything in the vicinity, including the women folk. A new char (island) has surfaced on the river. The impoverished villagers, who had lost all their cultivable lands when the river changed its course, feel that they have a right on the char.

Rahmat used to be the zamindar's chief henchman but after his only child dies he comes to the conclusion that it was his bad karma that is to blame. He decides to straighten up and help the villagers whom he once tortured while doing the zamindar's bidding. Raju Boyati sings melancholic tunes and seeks to avenge his father's death at the hands of the zamindar. The local school teacher motivates the community to unite and take a stance against the injustice and then there is Shudha, the young widow who believes she is destined to be alone in this lifetime.

Led by Rahmat, the villagers are ready to harvest the product of their sweat and blood but as usual, the zamindar wants it all for himself. The film follows the outcome of the clash between the united weak and the lone mighty.

Unfortunately for the sophisticated audience who has exposure to global cinema, the film falls short of meeting expectations. Featuring an impressive cast, the film at its very best becomes an ultimate compilation of clichés, over-dramatisation and amateurish direction. Khandokar should have seen Padma Nadir Majhi and taken pointers before making the film. Costumes of certain characters are not as per the era the film depicts. Too many flashbacks and misplaced songs test the patience of the audience. The impression can best be described through the dialogue delivered by one of the characters, "If only our memories didn't haunt us constantly!... We'd be much better off."

Illias Kanchan as Rahmat does what he was required to do. Champa's brilliance was under-utilised in an almost insignificant character. Riaz cannot seem to shrug off the tendency of method acting prevalent in mainstream movies. Popy in the deglamourised role of a Hindu widow is refreshing and her silent expressions are poignant; lack of effective dialogues however does not back her character.

Songs written by Gazi Mazharul Anwar and composed by Alauddin Ali, the kirtan in particular, are easy on the ear, thanks to seasoned crooners Sabina Yasmin and Andrew Kishore.

The film is currently running nationwide.

Riaz and Popy in a scene from the film