As the year draws to a close what can we look back upon to leave us inspired and enthused to look forward to the coming year? Undoubtedly it will be the memorable performances of some of our actors of 2007. Many of them are old faces who provided enough colour and drama to warrant bigger roles in this year's blockbusters, the most talked about being 'Whose Dirty Laundry First?' , an apt sequel to last year's 'The Big Mess'. Now there are fresh faces with new angles in the plot. Will the Kingdom be saved from the Curse? Who will be the heroes of this war against the C Monster? SWM highlights some of the outstanding moments in the film and the remarkable actors who created them.
'I will go on…' 'Head' Yesuddin
You would think that someone as frail and doddering as Yesuddin would call it a day after such a huge role in last year's mega block buster 'The Big Mess' in which he plays the intransigent, obtuse and blindly-loyal 'Head' hypnotised by an evil dynastic cult called The Royals (Queen Dolly B stars as the demonic witch aided by her diabolic progeny, played by Prince Trek). In that film his character was known as the ultimate yes man who would take the most controversial decisions without giving two hoots to the interest of the public. He holds meetings of Elders but takes decisions after they end their meetings on the basis of 'electronic institutions'. He appoints himself as the chief of the elders by violating the commandments' amidst widespread objections, then he deploys the army on three occasions without consulting the elders, he appoints two heads of the electoral body of the village Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, both of whom are very chummy with the cult, makes hurried announcements of upcoming elections, again without consulting the elders and even does a bit of reshuffling within the village bureaucracy. In fact he appointed around six of these electoral heads, lets call them 'election commissioners', all in allegiance to the Cult of the Royals. As if in a trance, he continued to ignore the advice of the elders, saying he would hold the elections even if the major parties did not participate. His continuous refusal to create a free and fair electoral atmosphere leads to an anarchical eruption.
In the sequel to The Big Mess, 'Whose Dirty Laundry First?', Yesuddin is the same barely-able-to-stand, stammering president, but of course without his former powers (since the Cult is in quite a bit of a legal soup itself). Yet it is hard not to admire the tenacity of this seemingly benign old man who manages to stay as the 'Head', rain, hail or storm. There is something about the way these villagers have framed their commandments that allows this uninspiring, rather dodgy fellow to retain his fairly respectable, though purely ceremonial position. Yes he resigned from being Chief but continued to be the 'Head', making sleep-inducing speeches at university commencement ceremonies. As far as perseverance goes in this cut-throat industry, Yesuddin definitely rocks.
M n M
No he is not related to any American hip-hop star. He is one of the most interesting, complex characters in the film 'Whose Dirty Laundry, First?' and plays the role of a lawman turned elder with a multiple personality disorder,5 with great finesse and aplomb. He is always in the limelight speaking for The New Order and the Head of the Elders, even when he needn't do so. At times he seems like a garrulous megalomaniac who just can't get enough of the sound of his gravelly voice.
Though not overtly inclined in any direction, in the film, his character seems to have a weakness towards members of gangs like 'The Thick-Skinned War Criminals Association' and the 'Fanatics Unlimited'. He is a bit of an evangelist as he makes scathing remarks against corrupt politicians who use goons to get political power, or those who have created a culture of corruption. He blasts anyone who in his eyes have defied The New Order be they errant teachers, erring journalists or former queens and princesses. He even tries to pass a law that would in effect reduce the already modest incomes of pen-craft industry members.
His character shows signs of paranoia and there is a constant refrain throughout the film in we assume, his voice: “There is a conspiracy to create a dangerous and unwanted situation."
Dr. Noble's Grand Entry and Quiet Exit
There are certain moments in a film that have such a high dose of the 'feel-good' factor that you just can't keep your eyes dry or ignore the lump in your throat. In the film 'Whose Dirty Laundry First?', it is most definitely when a beaming and wearing ethnic gear (as opposed to Imperialistic pin-striped suits) Dr. Noble lives up to his name by getting the highest accolade possible for his remarkable money-lending scheme that his Village Bank claims to have lifted thousands of people, mainly poor, landless women, out of the clutches of ultra-poverty. Amidst ear-splitting applause and a predictable standing ovation, Dr. Noble makes his acceptance speech with his usual charm and grace putting his poverty-stricken, calamity-prone and corruption-ridden country, on the map for all the right reasons.
The euphoria upon Dr. Noble's return is no less dramatic with thousands of people congregating to congratulate him and share in his glory. Thus the natural progression of the character to become a different leader of the people - by entering politics.
Almost immediately after receiving the Noble, Dr. Noble writes letters to the peace hungry people, asking them for support and prayers. He floats his own political party, the Citizen's Strength. At one point, he gives out email addresses and several cell phone numbers through which the people can get in touch with him and give him their suggestions. The plan does not succeed though. Many say it is because the Dr. Noble is simply not made out to run a political party in Bangladesh. Others say that his letters never reached a huge section of Bangladesh, since not all of them can read, let alone look for a computer with a stable internet connection to email suggestions!
The character of Dr. Noble however, comes up with a novel idea in the story - a Poverty Museum that he plans to put up by the year 2030. Dr. Noble's subsequent decision to quit politics disappoints many and the yearning for new politics remains strong.
The Great Morol's Come back
Should fathers be blamed for their sons misdeeds? Especially when the father is the Head Treasurer minister of money with close ties to the Queen and support from the people who voted (and trusted) him to power? In the sequel Whose Dirty Laundry First? The Great Morol has only a guest appearance but an extremely significant one nonetheless as the former Head Treasurer who roared like a lion now reduced to a weak kitten after the misdeeds of his offspring have been exposed. His party's in a shambles after the arrest of the Queen, her son, and many of her key cult members. It is significant because despite the disgrace and humiliation (even his daughter has been accused of illegal accumulation of wealth, extortion and a small stint in drug peddling) he is faced with he comes back in a surprise development in the film. After the unceremonious exit of the Queen (languishing in the dungeons and deprived of her magic potion- unstinting sycophancy) the Cult has been split into many groups with confusing loyalties. There's Abe Man who seems to be the most level-headed of the Cult, advocating for reform in the Cult (a change in dynastic leadership, a more democratic culture and even an admittance of failure in bringing democracy to the country). Obviously the Queen loyalists vehemently oppose such an idea leading to an expulsion of the reformists from the Cult. Another doddering member Delu who became famous for getting daily ration from a Debating Club's Cafeteria, comes in as the acting no. 2 of the Cult and knighted by the Queen herself. But now there is another twist in the story and here comes our dear, heavily accented, no frills man, rising from the ashes of shame the Great Morol, to take over the leadership of the Cult. Whether he was actually chosen by the Queen as claimed or whether it is another attempt to maintain the years-long status quo of the Cult, nobody really knows. But for the time being, the Great Morol is very much a player in the game.
At this point in the film there are little flashbacks into the heydays of the Great Morol when every syllable he uttered would make front page news especially when he made statements like: “Let them eat cabbage” alluding to a change in diet for the masses to counter food shortage and bring less dependence on rice. His venom is directed for micro-credit saying just giving a few goats to women ain't going to bring them out of poverty and is unashamedly a fan of The Universal Bank, which he defends and promotes at every chance he gets. While the Great Morol gets his kicks by saying un PC things in his rustic accent despite being highly qualified and educated, his dear sons are having a ball in the business world.
Nasa, the eldest has a thing for land and goes to any length to get a piece. He manages to acquire a tea garden for five taka and many other prime government lands. Eventually of course under Operation Spring Cleaning he gets arrested on extortion charges. In the film there's a scene where Nasa walks into a bar, wearing cowboy boots and announces to the bar tender that the bar must pay a toll of at least 50,000 taka a month, something known as a 'proximity tax' for the privilege of being next to his home.
The younger son Labu makes huge bucks by awarding a foreign company the contract for the national telephone company's mobile phone project; he also takes commission on various projects of the shipping ministry, thanks to his close ties with the shipping minister. Labu even sets up a firm with his brother-in-law to make sure all goods from foreign lands would have to go through that firm.
The Three Evil Stooges
The complex political drama of 'Whose Dirty Laundry First?' is full of surprises and there is always another axis of evil to keep things interesting. Enter the Three Evil Stooges (of Les Miserables Razakars fame), who have a strange case of amnesia called LWDs ('Liberation War Denial Syndrome') Bad-Shah A Humdrum, Motichur R Nilami and MutantHead have been denying their deadly past as hired lackeys of the Tikka Gestapo. They are expert manipulators, making up their own versions of history to serve their ends. They are diabolic sorcerers who try to concoct lies uttering evil chants like : the Liberation War was a civil war, there are no war criminals and no we were never part of the Tikka Gestapo blah blah blah, the resistance went to war lusting for Hindu women, etc.
Mutanthead who played a minister in last year's film 'The Big Mess' gives a remarkable performance denying his and his buddies' of the party 'Congregation of the Self-righteous' anti-liberation role in 1871. This despite all those scrolls and tablets of that time that have quotes from the party's youth faction 'Little Congregation' members of which categorically stated that they would protect every inch of the land from the pro liberation forces.
Meanwhile not to be outdone there is Bad-Shah A Humdrum who shares his own version of the war which he thinks should be included in the new set of school text books for the year 2008. "I will continue to say there are no war criminals in this country until the government files a case against anyone," he says with hope in his eyes.
Motichur Nilami, of course is the guru of the three and he just sits by and grins smugly throughout the film as even the New Order is unable to touch his party 'Congregation of the Self-Righteous'. There are flashbacks of a younger Motichur heading a major faction of the Tikka Gestapo and making statements, urging his minions to take up arms against the infidels, the pro-liberation people.
Jail Birds Rock
The first scene in the movie, 'Whose Dirty Laundry First?' which was originally called 'Not Without My Sons,'is a touching one, in which the person who we have now come to affectionately call Queen Bee Dolly refuses to leave the country without her two sons Clown Prince Trek (who had been taken into custody earlier) and Cuckoo Chanel. The former queen, who was supposed to go to Singapore for medical problems, cancelled her plans when Cuckoo Chanel was sued for extortion. The charges against her elder son, Clown Prince, were manifold, but it is said, that he too, has been found with his hand in the cookie jar a bit too many times.
As the movie unfolds, the audience finds out that, in the absence of the Clown Prince and her strong and enlightening guidance, her cell is divided into three different factions. It seems that her undying love for her sons eventually cost her big. Dolly is left feeling remorseful that not only did she refuse to leave the country while she could, but also, regretting the fact that they do not have a puffy hair-stylist and chiffon saris to buy in the jail where she too, eventually ended up for what else? Extortion.
Dolly is also co-starring in the movie 'Kabhie Sad, Kabhie Bad,' with arch-enemy Princess Shaksina.' The movie starts with the arrest of Shaksina on the grounds of extortion. She leaves elegantly, but dramatically, claiming that all these charges are ridiculous, and, true to her usual typecast role of the suffering victim, insists that this is a conspiracy against her and an attack on humanity. She became famous for her role in the movie 'Point Bluff," in which she stages a dramatic walk out of the Diet in protest.
The climax of the movie is when Shakina's son, Toy, while living a cushy life in the US, vehemently protests his mother's arrest, even going as far as to quoting the historic speech of his renowned grandfather. Unfortunately, his tonal quality was unimpressive, with very little emotion and no feeling whatsoever and as a result, the effect falls flat.
As for Dolls and Shaks, their common adversity has actually brought them together after decades of fueding and mudslinging. The movie ends with the two cat-fighters reconciling behind bars, even sometimes sharing each other's clothes and doing each other's hair and make up. The project to send the two seems to have been abandoned for fear that like the ancient artifacts, the real ones may be duplicated and therefore never come back.
Trek, a Fallen Star
There is no question at all that the most riveting moment in the film 'Whose Dirty Laundry First? is when armies of The New Order haul in the most talked about gangster of the country Prince Trek. Setting up his own little operating den 'Air House', he has been involved in a saga of extortion and intimidation. He became known as the terribly spoilt child of Queen Dolly B and a major player in the Cult of the Royals. Some members of the cult resented his high-handedness, others became his sychophants to get their own share of the pie. In the movie one of Trek's closest allies Gamun reveals all his friend's misdeeds (along with his own of course) while confessing to the investigation officers of The New Order. Other small fry of the Royals (which was a cult within a cult) such as Barber and Aluda also spilt the beans on poor Trek who became a victim of his obsession with power and money. For example, according to Barber, the Gamun Trek duo extorted as much as 120 crore taka from a telecom company.
The two college buddies developed a perfect friendship. Trek, through his political influence in the cult, would secure business deal for Gamun who in return would provide Trek with solid cash, to pay for his personal expenses. Trek's Air House became the ultimate 'power house' as many businessmen would throng to its gates to get tenders for government projects that involved crores of takas. The ingenuity of Trek is hinted at throughout this film, as his interrogators and prosecutors find it very hard to convict him despite the overwhelming confessions of his cronies. This is because he had always made sure that he got his money through someone else without having his name in the official documents. In' The Big Mess' Trek becomes the monster-child of a delusional, arrogant mother who does absolutely nothing to control her wayward sons. (Cuckoo Chanel's who is only interested in money, gets as many illegal business deals as possible through his brother and his own position as the second prince including. He has shares in various businesses- textiles, shipping etc. and takes commissions for government contracts, controls all major advertising billboards, and even takes payoffs from ticketing stalls at international gladiator games ). Trek and his maruding thugs are everywhere intimidating and poisoning anything they can lay their hands on, even artists are asked to paint portraits of him at the art college, by student goons loyal to him. There is no end to the genius of Trek: while he leads the most decadent life in the city, when he goes to the villages during rallies or party meetings, he is seen in a simple half-sleeved shirt making magnanimous statements and handing out warm clothes to the poor during winter.
In the sequel, the fall from glory is dramatic, Trek is dragged away to jail (soon his mother will follow) clad in protection gear and smothered by security personnel. Yet, like a true villain, he smiles a sly smile (Remember Damien in 'The Omen' ?) and says in his crystal clear voice 'I will be back you dingbats'.
-Super Hero Saves the Days
The real star of 'Whose Dirty Laundry First?' Is undoubtedly Comrade M (of 'Mission Possible' fame), the Super Hero who is the champion of anti corruption and has made headlines everywhere. The handsome Comrade plays his part perfectly as he struggles to uphold justice and save the kingdom from the Curse. He valiantly fights the Corruption Monster fattened by various cults of the previous eras. He is possibly the only character in the film who has a clear-cut good guy image and devoid of the angularities of his co-stars.
Unlike most authoritative figures in this line, the Comrade believes in involving the masses to help him fight against corruption. In fact he is found flying around to different parts of the country showing the people that he means business, and he will need their support. He is found fighting the corrupt with his laser beam eyes and his devastating karate chops.
The sequel to last year's 'The Big Mess' is a whole lot more interesting because of the sophistication of some of its new characters in harmony with the complexity of the plots and sub-plots. In the story when the country is in a state of unprecedented anarchy, 'a state of urgency is declared' and The New Order is introduced with a new chieftain - Dr. Suavuddin, the soft-spoken, Tagore quoting- former Universal and National banker. His addresses to the nation are filled with hope, altruism and patriotic flavour, much to the relief of the people. He is someone the educated think of as being a deliverer of sorts as he talks of a new, transparent, oppression-free country. News clips show him as a benevolent chieftain (oops the national electronic sycophants did it again) marching into cyclone-hit areas in his gumboots braving the treacherous weather and roads as well as his holy pilgrimage.
There are many successes in his reign to make the nation proud of him - a meticulous cleansing drive that hauls in some of the most notorious political knaves, separation of the courts from the kingdom, a successful council of cleaning agents, a revamped electoral body.
But there are elements of disappointment among the masses over his failure to keep the price of onions and rice at a reasonable level and for allowing the uprooting of his poorest subjects from the roadsides without providing alternative huts. The devastation caused by the cyclone leaving thousands dead and thousands homeless, has not helped his cause. Merchants and traders too have become a little weary of his New Order.
In the film he is also too much of a gentleman letting his subordinates create a lot of confusion, making grandiose statements or controversial remarks completely disregarding the protocol of The New Order. There are also hints of him being guided a bit too intimately by other powers, which of course is a sore point among the intelligentsia of the land. There is a feeling of uncertainty in this well-intentioned Cheiftain who probably realises rather late in the film that only divine intervention can detangle the knots he is surrounded by.
Boner Raja Ozman
The epic film 'Whose Dirty Laundry First?' is very much an adventure/ fantasy film full of fables and fairy tales but with a touch of modernity and even futuristic elements. One particular fable is worth mentioning starring the very talented actor Ozzi Ozman known for his authentic depiction of Tarzan, the king of the jungle. This is how the fable goes:
A long, long time ago, in a big forest in the Beautybans (Home to 330 species of plants, over 270 species of birds, and 42 species of mammals including the Royal Bengal Tiger and the Spotted deer) there lived Boner Raja Ozman. He was the king of the jungle. Sometimes he was so happy he could literally not see the forest for the trees. He looked admiringly at the trees. Little did anyone know that Ozman did not become king by virtue of his bloodline or the love that sprouted out from the hearts of his people. He had to give 8 million paper notes to an invisible hand to become king. But now that he was king he wondered what he should do. Of course he had to earn a few times more than the paper notes he had to give to the invisible hand. And then he saw the trees again. Swaying elegantly in the wind, he was almost giddy with the possibilities.
His acquaintances visited Ozman late at night, at all hours, with carriage full of paper notes. Anyone who wanted to work in Ozman's kingdom had to give him at least one million paper notes or more. And he just didn't trust anyone else to keep his money for him. He wanted to keep it all close to him. Ozman's leading lady Jane was happy too happy to help. She was buzzing with ideas. She went shopping for furniture. She bought wardrobes, freezers and big beds with thick mattresses. She lovingly unburdened Ozman of his troubles of where to keep the metaphorical carrots. The freezers and wardrobes were loaded with it. The mattresses were cut open and filled. Jane didn't mind filling up her lockers with priceless jewels either. She was so glad to be with the man of her dreams.
With the posting of the pawns, the trees started disappearing one by one. Ozman didn't mind. Even if it was the biggest mangrove forest of the world that once comprised 10,000 kilometres and was now left with only half of that, so what, there were still many trees for people not to notice. And besides, he was on good terms with both Princess Shaksina and Queen Dolly Bee and the Clan of the Royals. No one would dare to harm a hair on his bushy moustache. And the more trees were felled, the more freezers he got and the more he felt like he was invincible. Ironically, he even profited from environmental projects meant to save the forest trees. Some locals were in the meantime causing trouble. They had been living inside the forests for decades but here they were going on about how the trees should not be cut down. They were starting to get too active under a particularly vocal leader. These "non-residents" seemed to have more love for the forest than the king of forest, how peculiar thought Ozman, served the upstarts right to get tortured and killed by the green goblins.
But then the king of the jungle's paper dreams are shattered when The New Order sends its warrior to haul him into the dungeon for his role in shaving the forest clean and fattening his pockets (even Tarzanesque thongs have them these days).
In his hair-raising performance Barber is instantly mesmerised by the lyrics of Bryan Adams' '18 Till I Die'. With a name like that, the first thing Barber does was to get five kilograms of hair gel to get the 'spiky' look. Then he goes to one of the well-known Banglish teaching centres and learns the art of speaking in two languages at the same time. He masters it well and the public never questions anything with broken English words in it. As he "looked for shotrus" his work is proving to be very profitable under Aunty Dolly Bee's protective wing, especially with his bosom buddy tableperson of Vortex Group Khashem Mia. Unfortunately, his heydays end when Super Hero's detention squad got a sniff of his hair gel (er… corruption). The only thing Barber was afraid of was getting an unnecessary crease on one of the 300 branded shirts he was wearing when they manhandled him into the dungeon.
When the inquisition starts Barber's hair is hanging limply by the side and he has lost his slick conversational skills. When the stern faces ask him questions about how he has misbehaved, he gets verbal diarrhoea, he spills the metaphorical beans.
He tells the detention squad about how Onion Group's foreign partner paid 50 crore takas to Faltu in exchange for the work order to construct a flyover. He alleges the city head Khuki also got a fair share of the deal which took place under Dolly Bee's direct supervision, who was promised 20 crore taka for election expenses. Unfortunately, Salma F got in to the deal and demanded his share to keep mum. And Prince Trek didn't want to miss out and made a mere 20%. He left no stone unturned about his once favourite leader Dolly Bee's election back-door finances. The fact that she received 100crore taka each from three different Kingdoms and nearabouts. Sk ChowChow kept the money from one of the kingdoms in his own pocket. Barber also has much information about deals between Dolly and Forid Telecoms. Dolly apparently also had a habit of buying public land in the name of his two baby boys - Trek and Cuckoo Chanel.
Barber cannot not help brag about his childhood love for toy guns and gadgets and reveals how he had spent millions on purchasing them from various countries for his men. Apparently Barber also received 21 crore taka in bribe as part of a 50 crore taka deal for dropping the murder charges for killing an influential landlord when Queen Dolly Bee's reign was in full swing. From dropping murder charges to using government money for personal visits throughout the country in heli-dragons, Barber had truly lived the high life as the Royal Barber of the country.
(R) thedailystar.net 2007