Anil Bagchir Ekdin is a lyrical visual stream that touches the high note of emotion. The movie becomes successful when a character tells that, "Some hidden beauties in nature are meant to be kept in the heart, not to be retained in any other way." During Liberation War, the beauty of stagnant water, the colorful time in rainy season, or the green landscape motivated thousands of freedom fighters, it made them thirsty in that monochrome, desolate time to rediscover that beauty once again. This movie, the story and the image is the perfect reflection of that motivation or thirst.
Director Morshedul Islam once was called as the John Ford of Bangladesh in an article on film. For three decades, he has beenfocusing on the people of this country, their lives, struggles, joys and pains in a continuous loop of his film-making. He made films where logic defeated emotions, intellect lost to the love. With this film, he said that he wanted to tell a simple, straightforward story without any trickery and that simple, straightforward story was written by Humayun Ahmed. The characters of Humayun Ahmed's stories always throw lumps of stone onto the pond of life and they touch one's heart to another, another to hundred, hundred to thousand. Anil Bagchir Ekdin went forward with the same mood.
However, the story of the movie did not go as simple and straightforward as he said. There is remodeling of time, conflict between life and dreams, contradiction between color and colorlessness. The strangest thing is the story is simple and straightforward yet it is nowhere near to the classical narrative. From the first page of the story, we know how the day of Anil Bagchi would end, still, the climax does not make us panicked, upset or frustrated. The film is an amalgamation of a painful destiny and at the same time a celebration of the nature of our beloved homeland and enjoyment of the rich language. However, there are weaknesses as well and with all of that, Anil Bagchir Ekdin is a valuable resources in our film industry.
Twenty six year old Anil Bagchi has been a timid person from his childhood. He works in an insurance company in Dhaka and lives in a house with others. His school teacher father and the only elder sister Atoshi live in their village Rupeshwar. His mother had died at his birth. The idealist and honest father has tried to imbue his ideals in Anil. The old man loves nature and believes that there are certain manifestations of nature that no artist can capture in paintings; these can only be felt at the depth of ones heart. Atoshi loves a young man who is a Muslim, but cannot tell anyone about it. She keeps it as a secret to herself.
It is towards the middle of 1971 when Dhaka was a besieged city. The brutal Pakistani occupation keeps everyones nerves on the edge. One day very early in the morning Anil receives a letter from the Headmaster of Rupeshwar School. The Headmaster informs him that his father had been killed by the Pakistani military and that Atoshi was staying with him. He warns Anil not to go to the village as it is no longer safe for young Hindu men. Anil, however, ignores the Headmaster warning. The journey is fraught with danger, but he takes leave from office and boards a bus to Rupeshwar. The journey proves to be one of utmost uncertainty.
On the way Anil gets to know a middle aged man named Ayub Ali who is accompanied by his wife and daughter. Ali is a thoroughly boring character and likes to talk. He initially appears quite a reactionary but gradually Anil comes to admire his humanity. He instructs Anil never to reveal his Hindu name to anyone. He tells him to go by the name of Ali's brother-in-law, Mohsin. At one point of the journey the bus is stopped by Pakistani military personnel and everyone is ordered to disembark. When Anil is asked his name, he tells his real name. Ayub Ali risks his own life trying to save Anil. At one stage Ali breaks down like a child and starts crying. Of course that does not have any impact on Anils captors. Before he is led away, Anil requests Ali to visit his sister and tell her to marry the man of her choice.
Anil's captors take him to the bank of a river when the night is awash in moon light. Anil loses himself in appreciation of the moonlit night until the fatal bullet is shot. The incomprehensible frame gradually collapses, loses focus and when the frame blacks out, the one day of Anil Bagchi finishes. In the crude reality of Anil's last day, he repeatedly returns to his childhood village where he used to go to see the Birampur Lake with his father, be wet in the rain, hiding in the corner of the village, coming back home with his father, her sister's marriage breaking again and again. These dreams are merely the most desired thing Anil ever wanted.
These desires become abstract in the harsh reality of the last day of Anil. He is going to die, everyone knows that and everyone also knows that except this there is no better ending. Still the life of a timid man like Anil makes the audiences complete. We get engrossed in an unexpected joy when the last credits go on with a popular poem of Jibanananda Das, "I shall resurrect and return again to the banksof river Dhansiri in this Bengal, on melancholy green banks moist with waves of river Jalangi of this very Bengal."
Morshedul Islam has experimented at the highest level with this film. From camera to editing table, he experimented. Generally the imaginary world of ordinary people is black and white and the real world is colorful. Yet, the present time of this film was black and white and the memories were colorful. The explanation is easy, the liberation war was dull for the people, there were only terror, no happiness, so, no color. Comparing to this, the memory was far more colorful to the people with full of happiness. It was a great idea to bring that reality through editing and was out of the box.
When Anil begins his journey on the way to Rupeshwar, he gets toknow a middle aged man named Ayub Ali. Gazi Rakayet enacted this character and his acting was strong. Within a short time he made people laugh and cry. The character showed perfectly how people get closer to other people during a gray time like the liberation war.
War does not mean to fight with weapon. Maintaining life by accepting the war is also a great battle. To lose someone close is war as well. Anil lost his father, the pain of losing a father is also a battle. When a foreign journalist asks Anil about the situation of the country, he says in English in front of Pakistani Military that the situation of the country is not good, military is killing people. He also says that there are no children on the road and that means the country's situation is not good at all. To tell this needs courage and this is also war. The director depicted this silent battle with utmost professionalism. At the same time audiences were able to see how a timid boy like Anil slowly becomes a brave young man. The reality made Anil courageous.
The lead character was played by Aref Syed. This was his first full feature film and he acted brilliantly. The audience will remember his acting for a long time. Arif Syed has performed exceptionally well in all the scenes, being a scared boy, being silent, being brave, silent emotion, in everywhere, Aref Syed brought out Anil from the book page. However, in some scenes, he tried to be too much simple.
Jyotika Jyoti acted in the role of elder sister. Her character was a bit different. She had to bring out the emotions through expressions and she did it brilliantly. Some characters of the film were really weak, for example, the actor who played the father of Anil and Atashi in the film couldn't bring out the character. He was just reading out the dialogues. Similarly, Misa Soudagar appeared for one or two minutes in the character of Cornel Elahi. He spoke with the owner of the insurance company with a very bad Urdu. Pakistani soldiers must not have said Urdu this way.
There are two songs in the movie. Both songs were extremely incompatible. Especially after the breakup of Atashi's marriage, a song started right away. The chandelier seemed to have fallen there. Anil Bagchir Ekdin is a very slow paced movie. The director brought out the story very slowly. Anil goes back to memory lane very frequently and that might create confusion for many viewers; however, the real reason behind this becomes clear slowly. If I were to rate this movie, I would have rated it 7 out of 10. Overall it's a good movie. Gazi Rakayet alone pulled the movie forward and the cinematography with the black and white reality and colorful memory lane was really an exceptional idea.
The writer is a Sub-Editor, The Asian Age
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