June 1, 2022
by Carla Hay
Directed by Giasuddin Selim
Bengali with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in Bangladesh, the dramatic film “Paap Punyo” has a cast of characters from Bangladesh representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.
Culture Clash: A prominent local chairman finds out secrets and lies connected to his family after he falls under suspicion of murder.
Culture Audience: “Paap Punyo” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching slow-paced dramas with big plot holes.
“Paap Punyo” squanders a potentially good drama with a badly structured plot and sloppy editing. The movie erratically shifts from a long-distance love affair to a family melodrama to a murder mystery with a horrible and abrupt ending. There are major issues in the story that are completely ignored in the plot, such as the reveal of an incestuous relationship, but no one talks about it being incest. It’s absolutely horrendous.
Directed by Giasuddin Selim, “Paap Punyo” (which means “sin and virtue” in Bengali) centers on protagonist Khorshed Alam (played by Chanchal Chowdhury), who is a well-respected political chairman somewhere in Bangladesh. Khorshed and his loyal wife Rabeya (played by Farzana Chumki) have a daughter named Shathi (played by Shahnaz Sumi), who is in her late teens or early 20s. Shathi lives with her parents and doesn’t have any immediate goals in her life except to get married.
Shathi finds a potential husband when she falls in love with Alamin (played by Siam Ahmed), the son of a single mother named Parul (played by Afsana Mimi), who happens to be the housekeeper for Khorshed, Rabeya and Shathi. Alamin and Shathi begin dating each other, although he doesn’t seem to want to be as committed to the relationship as she is. It’s implied (not explicitly shown) that Shathi and Alamin have also become lovers.
Alamin’s mother Parul is the first one to find out that Alamin and Shathi have been sleeping together. Parul immediately blames Shathi and tries to shame her for having sex with Alamin. Parul is also angry at Alamin for this sexual relationship, and she hits him with a stick. Shathi’s mother Rabeya also finds out about this love affair and doesn’t approve, not only because Rabeya thinks Shathi could get a reputation for being promiscuous but also because of the social class differences between Shathi and Alamin.
At any rate, Parul and Rabeya both agree that they disapprove of this relationship. When both mothers talk about it, Parul assures Rabeya that she can end the romance by sending Alamin away. And sure enough, with his mother Parul’s encouragement, Alamin decides he’s going to move to another country.
Alamin tells Khorshed that he wants to move away so that he can “get rich.” Alamin’s father, who is described in the movie as a “vagabond,” was not involved in raising Alamin and is presumed to be dead. Alamin looks up to Khorshed and considers him to be almost like a mentor.
Not everyone is happy about Alamin moving out of the country. Shathi is devastated, of course. Alamin’s plan is to eventually live somewhere in western Europe. Until then, he’s ended up in Istanbul. Alamin and Shathi haven’t really broken up, but their relationship is somewhat on pause while they are such a long distance apart.
When Alamin arrives safely in Istanbul, he doesn’t tell his mother Parul or his girlfriend Shathi. Instead, the first person Alamin tells is Khorshed. It’s an example of how Alamin cares more about what Khorshed thinks than he cares about what the women in life in his life think. Parul and Shathi have to hear from Khorshed, not Alamin himself, that Alamin had a safe trip to Istanbul.
A large chunk of “Paap Punyo” has scenes of Shathi moping around because she misses Alamin. Eventually, Parul and Shathi end up putting aside their differences, and they bond over their shared feelings of melancholy because Alamin is living so far away from them. Alamin keeps in touch, but Shathi worries that he might meet someone new and end his relationship with Shathi. An early scene in the movie shows that Shathi can be jealous and insecure because she argued with Alamin when she found out that he was flirtatiously talking to another young woman.
Meanwhile, Khorshed and Rabeya are having issues in their marriage. Khorshed seems to be having problems sleeping, but he won’t tell Rabeya what is bothering him. She senses that he’s hiding something from her, so this puts a further strain in their marriage. Khorshed is also troubled by how unhappy Shathi is because of Alamin’s absence, but he doesn’t try to interfere in this long-distance romance.
Rabeya is still a little mistrustful of Alamin because she doesn’t approve of her daughter possibly marrying their housekeeper’s son. Rabeya also suspects that Alamin and Shathi’s sexual relationship came about because Alamin manipulated Shathi into it, even though the movie shows on multiple occasions that Shathi is a willing partner. For now, Rabeya doesn’t seem to mind that Alamin is living in another country.
“Paap Punyo” then abruptly shifts to a murder mystery when Khorshed is accused of killing an acquaintance named Ratan over a debt. The circumstantial evidence against Khorshed makes him a likely suspect, because the murdered body was found in a trunk that was most recently owned by Khorshed. He also has no alibi during the time that Ratan was believed to be murdered.
The rest of the movie is a melodramatic slog, as Khorshed is put in jail and vehemently declares that he’s innocent. During his time in jail to await his trial, Khorshed gets some shocking news, which takes the movie down a path of stupidity from which there is no return. “Paap Punyo” also has some other nonsensical and manipulative plot twists crammed in the last third of the movie.
One of the more ludicrous aspects of the story is when Khorshed is given an opportunity to be let out on bail, which would make it easier for him to work on his case with his attorney. Instead, Khorshed rips up the paperwork that he would need to sign to get out on bail. But then, soon afterward, Khorshed is shown out of jail and hanging out with Alamin, as if Khorshed doesn’t have a care in the world, with no explanation for this sudden turn of events.
None of the acting in this movie is notable. In fact, some of the performances are downright cringeworthy in how the cast members over-act. The last third of “Paap Punyo” is a muddled mess that completely wrecks any hope that the film would be an intriguing drama. “Paap Punyo” (which does not have a credited screenwriter) seems like the type of movie that was rushed out on a deadline, with the filmmakers not really caring that the entire story is poorly conceived with too many underdeveloped characters and an ending that leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
Impress Telefilm released “Paap Punyo” in select U.S. cinemas on May 20, 2022.