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        Volume 12 |Issue 01| January 04, 2013 |


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From Arts to Commerce

Can 'Chorabali', a full-fledged commercial film by a new generation director, be the start of a long expected recovery of the dying Bangladeshi film industry?

Tamanna Khan

A scene from the film. Photo: Amirul Rajiv

'Chorabali', Redoan Rony's first feature film, in all aspects, is a commercial film. Unlike many of his predecessors, Rony, an already established television drama director, does not want to make just 'award winning' films targeting a certain type of audience. He says, “Those of us from outside FDC (Film Development Corporation of Bangladesh) and who want to make alternative films, the seniors among us had a tendency to make films with the objective of winning awards. As a result, the ordinary audience of commercial films, who are numerous in number, stopped coming to the cinema halls.” He says there is a lack of films of commercial value with good story, cinematography and so on — an entire entertainment package, in the present Bangladeshi film market.

With his first film, Rony thus presents Bangladeshi audience with that package. The film therefore has a lot of action, heartless villains with no shades of white, good politicians to balance the bad, a seductive female character to compliment the villain, a hunk for an assassin and finally the 'item number'. Regarding the Bollywood style item song, Rony admits it is rather a selling technique than a necessity. “Artistes do not lip sync to the other six songs of the film that are played in the background. I have tried to bring in the item song as logically as possible through a party scene, which is not an improbable thing,” he defends his decision.

The plot of the movie is simple. The protagonist Sumon, born in an underprivileged family, is compelled to grow up in the city's underworld as mafia lord Osman Ali's goon. After killing a pregnant woman, who is Osman Ali's girlfriend, carrying his illegitimate child, Sumon's conscience leads him to defy Ali's order. Regarding the incident that inspired Rony to write the storyline, he says, “that everyday as he opens the newspaper he finds news of murder. “Those who commit these murders may be people like us, leading a similar life like ours, people we do not know,” he continues, “I feel that they are immersed in quicksand, where it is easier to go in but difficult to come back from.” He wants to motivate those who are stuck in the quicksand of Dhaka's underworld to come back to normal life. Thus his character Sumon, played by Indraniel Sengupta, with the love and support of his heroine, the female journalist Noboni Afroze, played by Joya Ahsan, risks his life to come out of the grip of crime.

The craft of the director lies in how he presents this simple story with appropriate twists and surprises. In fact the audience has to wait until almost the end to understand Sumon's intention. Rony nevertheless knows the trick to hold the viewers to their seats. Rony's story telling is equally complimented by the superb cinematography of Khair Khondokar. The scene where young Sumon is seen sitting beside his dying mother when Noboni tries to assure Sumon of her support, at twilight, are just a few of the wonderfully captured camera moments throughout the film. Although, the director is quite careful about the details of the scene, he falls out on Indraneil's dubbing as his dailogue at times comes out in colloquial street Bengali and at other times in the more refined version without any justification.

‘Chorabali', Redoan Rony's first feature film, in all aspects, is a commercial film. Photos: Amirul Rajiv

Acting-wise, Shahiduzzaman Selim playing the role of Osman Ali, impresses everyone with his unnerving expressions and dialogue projections. He is the perfect representation of a shrewd mafia lord turned aspiring politician. ATM Shamsuzzaman, who plays the role of a corrupt high-up, reaping the benefits of the mafia world and influencing its course, matches Selim well with his controlled yet amusing style. Interestingly, Rony even in the make-believe cinema world does not lose hold of reality, which is depicted in how he avoids showing the final fate of Shamsuzzaman, as it seems that, in line with the real world, Shamsuzzaman remains out of the reach of justice or even the media. Another debut actor who deserves praise is Nayeem, playing the young Sumon. Rony discovered this young talent in the theatre group 'Tokai Nattyadol' whose members come from the underprivileged society. Nayeem's expression of anger and despair is unmatchable; he appears more natural in the scenes he played than his grown-up counterpart.

The approximately two crore taka budgeted film has been released on December 22, 2012, and will run in 23 cinema halls across the country. Regarding his distribution experience, Rony compares the problems of our country with that of the international market. “In the international market, a producer first releases a film, then it goes directly to the hall owners through the distributors and the (ticket) sale is also computerised,” he says. “Here it will go to the distributors first and then to a strange intermediary called the 'booking agent' and then the hall owner. There are so many steps that a large portion of the profit goes out to these (intermediaries),” he adds. Rony also points out that it is difficult to monitor ticket sales because of the absence of a computerised ticket system in most halls.

'Chorabali' is expected to be released in other countries this year including Kolkata. Though Tallygunge hero Indraneil plays the lead role in the film, Kolkata audience has to wait for sometime before the film can be released in Pashchimbanga's cinema hall. Rony informs that there is no official barrier to the release of Bangladeshi cinema in India and vice-versa. “It is a problem created by (film) associations,” he says. Rony is not afraid of Indian cinema taking over the Bangladeshi film industry. He opines that Bangladeshi audience will always prefer their country's product even if super-hit Hindi films are released here. Giving example of the recent Bond movie 'Sky Fall' and his film 'Chorabali' currently being shown in Bashundhara Star Cineplex, he observes how an equally long queue is found for 'Chorabali'. “When people will grow the tendency to visit cinema halls in an open film market, they will plan on watching a film each week. No matter how many foreign films run in the halls, people will choose the local one,” he insists. Surprisingly, Rony, unlike many other film buffs, believes that the most positive aspect of the Bangladeshi film industry is its huge number of audience.

It is not every month that a Bangladeshi cinema, which appeals to audience of all classes educational and social backgrounds, hits the silver screen. However, Rony believes that 'Chorabali' will not be the lone elixir trying to revive the us decaying film industry of the country. He informs of other young aspiring film directors who are getting ready to march into the film world with promise of standard entertainment this year. Rony does not want to call his debut film 'quinine for the Bangladeshi film industry', rather he says, “Quinine is bitter. I want to put the medicine inside a sweet. That is my theory. For this market we need entertaining and saleable movies, not made only to win awards or the hearts of root level public only. We need to aim at the larger audience whose return to the cinema halls can revive the industry.”


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