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No Dorai: A mess that fails to deliver on its promise

Star Cineplex’s first venture into film production, “No Dorai”- a film based on the story of a local Bangladeshi girl from Cox’s Bazar and her passion for surfing, has been the talk of the town recently.

Read more: Dare to Surf: The first ever Bangladeshi movie on surfing

Ever since the poster of a young surfer girl, in a red saree whose fierceness meets the ones in her eyes, was released, moviegoers have been eagerly waiting to go and watch what promised to be a milestone for Bangladeshi cinema. As it premiered on November 28th in Star Cineplex, it offered the local audience a glimpse into what it could have been. Had it not messed up so badly.

What works

Directed by Taneem Rahman Angshu, the film has the elements that make it an exuberant celebration of the ups and downs in Ayesha’s (Sunerah) life. You see the passion in her eyes as she shows commendable surfing skills and the helplessness in her eyes when she asks her father for help after getting married. Sunehra’s portrayal of the character is admirable.

The cinematography of the film is magnificent. Cinematographer Suman Sarker has memorialized the sheer beauty of Cox’s Bazaar, wrapped them in bows and delivered this beautiful ‘gift’ of such brilliant cinematography.

No Dorai: A mess that fails to deliver on its promise

Be it the spell-bounding drone shots of the beach, the placement of the actors on screen in a particular landscape or using various angles to portray the scenes, he has envisioned it right and created a magic like trance on screen.

Despite being a movie in local Chittagonian dialect throughout, Ayesha’s vulnerability portrayed with heartbreaking precision is something we all understand and feel sorry for. The acting chops of Sariful Razz and the actor portraying Ayesha’s brother were also commendable.

What does not

The two and a half hours of beautiful cinematic shots offer little story besides what we already know from the trailers and the title tracks. The lack of subtitles in a movie made entirely in the local dialect does not help its case either.

All in all, sitting through the entire runtime of No Dorai requires quite the hard work.

No Dorai: A mess that fails to deliver on its promise

As fans enter the theatre expecting a film that highlights surfing, a struggling story and most importantly, women’s emancipation, they will find many of these elements missing. Despite great performances by Sunerah, her character often is overshadowed by the multiple other aspects of the movie revolving around Sohel’s (Sariful Razz) story.

The involvement of the foreign cast seemed distracting, especially because they did not blend in as well as the other characters. Ensuring more screen-time for Ayesha’s character and story would have made a more valid point for the plot of the movie.

Verdict

With a story that becomes somewhat predictable after a while and a plot that does not resonate the message of women empowerment as strongly as it promised in the poster and trailer, No Dorai fails to deliver on its promise.

Brilliant cinematography, beautiful choice of musical scores and unforgettable acting from the casts involved fails to uplift a movie brought down by lazy and sub-par story writing. With a rating of 2/5 from us, in the end, No Dorai is just another Bangladeshi film with a potential wasted.

“Fagun Haway” explores 1952 in a new light with brilliant storytelling

“রাষ্ট্রভাষা বাংলা চাই, বাংলা চাই, বাংলা চাই!” – We sat there in the theatre with goosebumps, mesmerized how a scene with people shouting words could be so simple yet so powerful.

Fagun Haway is a movie about our Language Movement of 1952, inspired by Tito Rahman’s book “Bou Kotha Kou”. Directed by Tauquir Ahmed, the film features the extremely talented Nusrat Imrose Tisha and Siam Ahmed in the lead roles.

“Fagun Haway might seem like a quite serious film regarding ’52, but there is plenty of mainstream entertainment values embedded. It has romance, family drama and of course, humor”

The lead actor of the film Siam Ahmed added in an interview with Prothom Alo,

and indeed, we could not agree more.

The story

The movie starts by introducing the main characters- Dipti (Tisha), a medical college student, Nasir (Siam), a Dhaka university student and Pakistani police officer Jamshed Ali Khan (Yashpal Sharma) arriving in a ferryboat to the village of Chandranagar in East Pakistan.

Nasir and Dipti share beautiful moments on-screen- they become friends while working for a stage-play on Dinbandhu Mitra’s ‘Nil Darpan’ and soon fall in love. Meanwhile, the new officer at the police station, grumpy Jamshed Ali unfairly treats everyone. He not only forces people to speak Urdu, but also shows grave hatred towards anything related to Bangla language- from signboards written in Bangla to our people to even a mere bird humming the tune of “Bou Kotha Kou” simply because it’s Bangla.

Overall, the movie makes you go through a mixture of emotions. You laugh helplessly at the funny dialogues or hilarious expressions of Faruk Ahmed as a moulavi, you get angry and curse the Pakistanis for their cruelty towards East Pakistani people, you smile ear to ear as you see the two lovers unite, you sympathize with the Bangali police officers and the people for the torture they face, you sigh, seeing the irrational demands of Jamshed Ali Khan and most importantly, you feel the pride as the young rebels march on the streets of Chandranagar. Fagun Haway truly is a cinematic masterpiece that makes you feel as if you are a part of the journey itself!

The cinematography and acting

"Fagun Haway" shows an unexplored side of 1952 with brilliant storytelling

In addition to the story and concept of the movie, the cinematography and attention to details definitely won my heart! The recreation of Bangladesh from the 1950s was phenomenal. Starting from how Dipti(Tisha) wore sarees with a shorter aanchol similar to women in those days to how Tauquir Ahmed bought the Volkswagen 1954 model simply because the owner wouldn’t let him use it otherwise- every little detail was admirable. The costumes, the rural houses, tea-stalls and setups, the cinematic filters and color grading were aesthetically pleasing and take you back to the 1950s. Moreover, the rural Bangladeshi scenes shot with drones was stunning!

Tisha and Siam portrayed their characters beautifully in the film. Yashpal Sharma also fit his character perfectly and his acting as the evil police officer was spot-on. Saju Khadem, Faruk Ahmed, Abul Hayat and Fazlur Rahman Babu also blended in their characters beautifully.

The verdict

"Fagun Haway" shows an unexplored side of 1952 with brilliant storytelling

Fagun Haway was quite different from the conventional movies of today.

It was a beautiful watch, with various elements blended together that worked perfectly!

More movies on such historic events of our country should be made to infuse nationalism and patriotism into the mindsets of the new generation.

Fagun Haway is playing on Star Cineplex now; book your tickets and do not miss the opportunity to experience the glimpse of our struggle for our mother tongue (and a wonderful cinematic experience)!