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.

Dare to Surf: The first ever Bangladeshi movie on surfing

Surfing is not as prominent in Bangladesh as it is in other countries. But there are a good number of surfers that hit the high waves of Cox’s Bazar every now and then. Even amid societal pressure and conservative religious mindset, surfing in Bangladesh is carving its way forward. And this intriguing story of surfing’s rise in a conservative society is about to be captured in celluloid for the first time ever.

Surfing in Bangladesh

In 1995, Jafar Alam started surfing culture in Bangladesh after buying a surfboard from an Australian and spending years teaching himself to surf.

After Surfing the Nations founder Tom Bauer decided to set up a surf club in Bangladesh, even women started to get involved in surfing.

Jafar Alam in his surfing club

Soon, Nasima Akhter, a young girl from Cox’s Bazar, left behind her home and family to join the surfing community. She would forever be known as the first ever Bangladeshi woman to become a world-class competitive surfer.

This year, the film industry of Bangladesh decided to make a movie based on the life of female surfers and the constraints they have to face in every step of their surfing journey. Named Dare to Surf in English, this movie portrays the story of a local Bangladeshi girl from Cox’s Bazar and her passion for surfing.

Model Sunerah Binte Kamal is going to play the character of Ayesha, a girl from Cox’s Bazar who challenges society’s prohibitions and joins the surfing community.

Read more: Bangladeshi graphic novels: 5 essential reads

Intriguing plot based on a true story

Ayesha (Sunerah) and Sohel (Shariful Raaz) both are passionate surfers and friends who, along with other youngsters, are trained by self-taught surfer Amir(Sayed Babu). This enthusiasm for surfing from a small town in Bangladesh starts to get international attention from several organizations.

But as funds and money are generated from this newly received attention, so is the hunger for fame, power and a heavy bank account.

While this gives Sohel the chance to get stardom and live a posh life in the city, it brings upon Ayesha a forced marriage and prohibitions in her love for surfing.

Inspired from the life story of the first female surfer Nasima Akhter, this movie not only shows how much a girl has to struggle to challenge cultural boundaries but also depicts the horrible consequences of being in the limelight.

Read more: Chris Hemsworth wraps up filming “DHAKA”, the film not filmed in Dhaka

Excitement and hope

Directed by Tanim Rahman Angshu, Dare to Surf was made to advocate female empowerment and the right to live as they want. A released poster of the movie shows a young girl in a bridal saree walking on a sandy shore of Cox’s Bazar with a surfboard in her hand and a fierce look in her eyes. Although this was made as a festival poster to showcase in film festivals all around the world, it definitely conveys the stance this movie is taking. With famous screenwriter from Kolkata, Shyamal Sengupta and some amazing actors on board, movie enthusiasts have already started to provide positive feedback on this movie.

Previously, a documentary called The Most Fearless was made by Californian documentary filmmaker Heather Kissinger to portray the life of a female surfer from a conservative Muslim country. However, this is the first time the Bangladeshi film industry has attempted to make a movie that focuses on the surfing journey of a Bangladeshi woman.