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      Volume 12 |Issue 06| February 08, 2013 |


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A Witty Reverie

Mostofa Sarawar Farooki presents an amusing satire through his fourth film 'Television'

Tamanna Khan

Television has finally arrived in Bangladesh. This news may sound decades old, if one considers the historic entry of the square-black magic box in the late 60s. But for the film buffs of the country, the arrival of 'Television' in the silver screen is a much awaited event.

Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's 'Television' has been on the news since last year, bagging acclamation in international film festivals in Busan, Korea and Dubai. Yet the director has been quite secretive about the storyline inciting anticipation about the film among Bangladeshi audience.

Farooki is a popular name among the young people of the country. Therefore it is only natural that young men and women crowd the queues in front of the ticket booths of the cinema halls running 'Television'. It is their story Farooki has always captured in his celluloid, this time too it should not have been different and that is where the talented director takes the audience by surprise.

The lights are on Amin chairman, a conservative old man who insists on running the life of his village on the basis of traditional Islamic values. However, Amin is not the stereotypical hardcore religious bigot. It soon becomes clear that he has earned his power not only through might but through respect as well as. As a result, neither the villagers nor his son initially dare to disobey him.

Amin, played by Shahir Kazi Huda, appears to have his own logic for restricting the use of technology and the audience soon finds out that Amin's fears are not baseless. The young people in his village 'misuse' (in Amin's words) or rather use modern technology more for entertainment purposes than for productive reasons, when they get an access to it behind Amin's back. The logical aspect of the Amin character portrays itself when he grants his son the permission to use mobile phone or allow the Hindu teacher 'Kumar sir', played by Muhit Zakaria, to watch television.

Scenes from the film 'Television' starring Shahir Kazi Huda, Chanchal Chowdhury, Mosharraf Karim
and Tisha. clockwise from above

Anisul Hoque and Farooki have done an excellent job in creating the chairman’s character. He embodies our apparent secular leadership that wants to move forward with unsure steps often fighting the winds of change. His cronies too have uncanny similarity to the sycophants who surround our leaders. The innovative but ineffective solutions, one of the cronies produces every time Amin faces a dilemma, definitely reminds one of our current political crisis and the alternatives our leaders consider. Another interesting character is that of the village chameleon, played by Imam Lee; such people are also not hard to find in Bangladeshi politics.

Of course, it can always be argued that whether such a technologically deprived village, where the rule of one non-politically affiliated man can actually exist in Bangladesh in this era and time. But then again this is a fiction and if snakes can turn into humans and dance in royal courtrooms, a village where television is not allowed cannot be a preposterous theme in a Bengali film.

Though a fictitious story, the pangs of reality are not absent in 'Television', especially when Kohinoor, the young female character played by Tisha, solely receives punishment for the mass disobedience of the law of the village imposed by the chairman. At the end of the day, it is a woman who has to be humiliated in front of the entire village to teach everyone a lesson.

However, it is not Tisha who wins hearts with her performance. Rather Mosharraf Karim, overshadows all the others through his perfect characterisation of Majnu, the hero's (Chanchal Chowdhury) attendant who is secretly in love with Kohinoor. It definitely answers why Farooki chooses almost the same performers for his movies; no one could have played Majnu any better than Karim.

Golam Maola Nabir has done an excellent job in capturing the breathtaking beauty of a sea-side village in his frames. The dialogue in local dialect again does not fail to amuse the audience as they always do in Farooki's work. The background music too blends in well. Out of the nine tracks in the film, 'Kanamachhi' by the band Chirkut plays inside the head even when one leaves the hall.

The main purpose of television is to provide entertainment and Farooki's 'Television' remains true to its role. Waves of laughter roll across the hall with each delivery of witty dialogue or Chanchal Chowdhury's (playing Solaiman, the chairman' son) ever convincing expression of the simple-headed and lovesick young man. There are times when the film becomes a little slow, especially towards the end and then finishes off quite abruptly. A female audience thus rightly comments, “It is like a short story. Hoiyao hoilo na shesh (The end is not the end).” 'Television' ‘in fact’ becomes the beginning to a promise of change.


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