Review: ‘Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon),’ starring Zahid Hasan, Nusrat Imrose Tisha, Nader Chowdhury, Masud Rana, Mamunur Rashid, Iresh Zaker and Parambrata Chattopadhay

March 15, 2023

by Carla Hay

A scene from “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” (Photo courtesy of Jaaz Multimedia)

“Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)”

Directed by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki

Bengali with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 2, 2016, the dramatic film “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” (based on true events) has a predominantly Asian cast of characters (with a few white people) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A group terrorists take a restaurant hostage, and they murder people whom they think are not Muslim, not Bangladeshi, or not devout Bangladeshi Muslims.

Culture Audience: “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” will appeal primarily to people who want to see a dramatic recreation of a real-life tragedy, but the movie does not offer any insightful context and just has scene after scene showing people being shot and killed.

Iresh Zaker and Parambrata Chattopadhay in “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” (Photo courtesy of Jaaz Multimedia)

“Shonibar Bikel” is more exploitative than informative. It takes the story of a real-life massacre and uses it as an excuse to show vile murders, without regard to presenting the victims as fully formed people. The movie’s terrible ending has no epilogue.

People who see this movie but who know nothing about the real-life tragedy will be left wondering why they wasted almost 90 minutes of their time watching recreations of senseless murders without learning anything meaningful about the victims, the perpetrators and the people outside the restaurant who were directly involved in the rescue efforts. Law enforcement and media people are barely in the movie and are mostly heard, not seen. And the movie seems to care more about showing how people died than showing who those people really were.

Written and directed by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” is about the terrorist attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant in the Gulshan Thana district of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Five terrorists took the restaurant hostage, beginning on the night of July 1, 2016, with the massacre ending during the day on July 2, 2016. In total, 29 people were killed: 20 hostages, two police officers, two restaurant staffers who tried to escape and the five terrorists.

“Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” is a recreation of the Saturday afternoon of the massacre. This movie shows only what happens in the restaurant, not the rescue efforts outside. Therefore, the movie literally just shows nothing but repetitive scenes of the terrorists interrogating the hostages and then killing many of them. In real life, the terrorists went into the restaurant with bombs, machetes and guns and used all of these weapons during this hostage crisis and massacre. In “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon),” there is an unrealistic fixation on the terrorists just using guns.

The reason for the hostage interrogations is because the terrorists want to find out which hostages meet the terrorists’ standards of being religious Bangladeshi Muslims. Anyone who isn’t a Muslim is automatically murdered. Anyone whose nationality isn’t Bangladeshi is automatically murdered. And if a hostage is a Bangladeshi Muslim, the hostage goes through rigorous questioning, scrutiny and extreme judgments. For example, if someone is Muslim but wearing what the terrorists call “Western clothing,” such as jeans, the terrorists will probably murder that person.

A male hostage who isn’t macho can be killed because he’s considered “not Muslim enough.” A female hostage who is confident or independent can be killed because she’s considered “not Muslim enough.” One of the terrorists calls a woman a “bitch” because she is not wearing a hijab. You can easily predict what happens to her. An unnamed pregnant woman (played by Selina Black), who is gunned down by a terrorist after he tells her she can leave, is murdered just because she is white and from a Western country.

These repetitive murders go on and on for the entire movie, with no effort to explain the backgrounds of any of the people involved. People watching this movie already know that these mass-murder tragedies are senseless. But people watch movies like this to find out more about who were some of the people who tragically lost their lives and what was going on with law enforcement to help save them. “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” doesn’t care to tell any of those stories at all. It’s just a mindless recreation of a massacre.

Some people who praise this movie might be enthralled by the cinematography. “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” was made to look like it was all filmed in “real time” with no editing. Just because some of the cinematography is artsy doesn’t mean it’s a good film. The visual aspects of the camera work are very superficial distractions, because “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” lacks a substantial narrative.

Don’t expect to learn much about the hostages who get most of the screen time in “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon).” Nader Chowdhury, who portrays a character named after himself, has the role of a father who begs the terrorists to let his son (who’s about 7 or 8 years old) leave the restaurant safely. A man named Sahidul (played by Zahid Hasan) is a hostage who tries to be a peacemaker. Another man named Mozammel Haque (played by Mamunur Rashid) attempts to convince the terrorists that he’s Bangladeshi, not Indian.

Masud Rana plays a character named after himself. The character is an elderly man who recognizes one of the terrorists as someone who used to go to the same school as his son. “What made you a killer?” Masud tearfully asks. “Where did we fail you?” The terrorist doesn’t answer. Instead, there’s just a closeup of a burning cigarette being held by the terrorist, and the camera stays on the cigarette until a long strip of ash at the end falls off the cigarette. It’s all just pretentious filmmaking.

Another hostage is a 26-year-old woman named Raisa (played by Nusrat Imrose Tisha), who gets a hard time from the terrorists because she’s an unmarried woman who works outside the home. The only reason why Raisa isn’t murdered right away is because she’s earing a hijab. One of the terrorists tells her that the only good Muslim females are the ones who are married by age 15, a mother by age 16, and dedicated to spending rest of their lives serving their families.

Raisa has to explain why she works outside the home (she will only say she works for a “private company”), and she says it’s because she has to help financially support her family members. When the terrorists further berate Raisa for not being married at her age, a man steps forward and identifies himself as Raisa’s fiancé (played by Rahat Rahman), but he gets verbally abused for not being “man enough” to defend Raisa earlier.

The terrorists force Raisa to call her mother to relay messages to the police. Raisa, who is very outspoken, quickly gets tired of the terrorists using her mother as a pawn, and she demands that they stop. “Stop disrespecting my mother!” she shouts at a terrorist. “Kill me if you want, but don’t disrespect my mother anymore!” There’s no surprise when viewers see what happens to Raisa.

“Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” is the second movie released in 2023 about this real-life tragedy. It follows the release of the drama “Faraaz,” a much better film that looks at the humanity of some of the victims and their families, in addition to giving a better context of why this tragedy happened. In “Faraaz,” all of the terrorists were depicted as impressionable young men in their late teens and 20s. And it’s explained in “Faraaz” that they instigated this attack at the urging of an older mentor who taught them how to become radical Islamic terrorists. In “Faraaz,” one of the hostages recognizes one of the terrorists as someone who is a former schoolmate and who was on the same soccer team. It’s a compelling core of the movie.

In “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon),” almost all of the terrorists are depicted as men in their 30s and 40s, with no context given for who they are and why they ended up becoming ruthless murderers. All of the terrorists in “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” are extremely generic. The terrorists’ leader inside the restaurant is a bespectacled killer named Ibtesham (played Iresh Zaker), who is depicted as the most unpredictable “loose cannon” in the group. Another terrorist named Polash (played by Parambrata Chattopadhay) is an obedient subordinate who is calm, calculating and cold-blooded.

“Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” might be overrated by some people because the movie made the rounds at several high-profile film festivals in 2019, including the Moscow International Film Festival and the Sydney Film Festival. “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” became controversial because the Bangladesh government banned the movie from being released. The ban was lifted in January 2023.

But just because a movie was at several film festivals, and just because some people think a banned film automatically makes it worth seeing, doesn’t make it a meaningful film that’s worthy of a viewer’s time. Simply put: The very tacky and soulless “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” is the scripted drama equivalent of a snuff film.

Jaaz Multimedia released “Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon)” in select U.S. cinemas on March 10, 2023.

Review: ‘Faraaz,’ starring Zahan Kapoor, Aditya Rawal and Juhi Babbar Soni

February 5, 2023

by Carla Hay

Aditya Rawal and Zahan Kapoor in “Faraaz” (Photo courtesy of Reliance Entertainment)


Directed by Hansal Mehta

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in 2016, primarily in Dhaka, Bangladesh (and briefly in Mumbai, India), the dramatic film “Faraaz” (based on true events) features a predominantly Asian cast of characters (with some white people) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Five young male terrorists commit a massacre and take hostages at a restaurant in Dhaka, and it’s soon revealed that one of the captives and one of the hostage takers used to know each other as schoolmates. 

Culture Audience: “Faraaz” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching a dramatic and somewhat formulaic retelling of a tragedy from the perspective of someone who became an unexpected hero.

Aditya Rawal (standing), Zahan Kapoor, Pallak Lalwani and Reshham Sahaani in “Faraaz” (Photo courtesy of Reliance Entertainment)

Based on true events, “Faraaz” is an intense thriller that rises above some of its hostage-movie clichés with credible performances from most of the cast. People who already know the outcome of what happened in real life will not find any surprises in “Faraaz.” However, the story is different from most other hostage movies because it focuses on what happens when one of the hostage victims finds out that one of the hostage takers is a former schoolmate.

What types of psychological effects does this knowledge have on the victim? Will the victim feel more empowered or more vulnerable? And will this past connection help or hurt the victim and the other hostages? All of these questions are explored in subtle and obvious ways throughout “Faraaz,” which also shows how the hostage taker is affected by having a prior connection to a hostage victim. Ritesh Shah, Kashyap Kapoor and Raghav Kakkar wrote the “Faraaz” screenplay. “Faraaz” had its world premiere at the 2022 BFI London Film Festival.

Directed by Hansal Mehta, “Faraaz” takes place in 2016, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the tragedy occurred in real life. The movie’s title character is 20-year-old Faraaz Hossain (played by Zahan Kapoor), who comes from an affluent family. Faraaz’s mother Simeen (played by Juhi Babbar Soni, also known as Juhi Babbar) is a high-ranking executive at Eskayef Bangladesh Limited, Transcom Consumer Products Limited, and Transcom Distribution Limited—all companies owned by Transcom Group, the corporation founded by Simeen’s father, Latifur Rahman.

Faraaz and his older brother Zaraif (played by Amir Shoeb) live with Simeen, who is a single parent. (Muhammad Waquer Bin Hossain, the real-life father of Faraaz and Zaraif, is not mentioned in the movie.) Simeen has the nickname Chhotu (or “little one”) for Faraaz. In the beginning of the movie, Simeen is annoyed with her sons because she had plans to go with them on a family vacation to Malaysia to celebrate the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, but those plans went awry because the sons wanted to stay in Bangladesh.

Simeen and Faraaz also argue because she wants Faraaz and Zaraif to enroll in Stanford University in the United States. However, Faraaz wants to continue to go to school in Bangladesh. (In real life, Faraaz was a student at Emory University in Atlanta, and he was in Bangladesh while on a summer break from Emory.) Faraaz gets so upset, he storms out of the house, but he eventually returns and tells his mother that he’s sorry about the argument. Simeen makes an apology too, and she says that she will no longer pressure Faraaz and Zaraif about which university she wants them to attend.

Meanwhile, five men in their late teens and 20s are gathered in a room and eating on the floor together like roommates. They could easily pass for university students who share living quarters, but these young men are not at a university and the instructions they’ve been getting aren’t for a university education. They’ve been getting instructions on how to be radical Islamic terrorists.

Their leader is a man in his 30s named Rajiv (played by Godaan Kumar), who has been indoctrinating these young men into thinking that anyone who isn’t a devout Muslim is their enemy. Rajiv has masterminded an extreme plan to get attention for their fanatical causes. It’s a plan that he’s discussed with this group before, in conversations not shown in the movie, but the members of the group have been reluctant to carry out this plan.

What is shown in the movie is that Rajiv is now demanding that the group show loyalty and that they must execute the plan, or else he will think that they are cowards. After Rajiv scolds them and shames them, all five agree to do what Rajiv wants. A pleased-looking Rajiv drives off with the five young men together in a van. Viewers will soon see the diabolical plan that Rajiv has now set in motion.

It’s July 1, 2016, during the day. Faraaz, his female friend Tarika (played by Pallak Lawani) and Tarika’s neighbor Ayesha (played by Reshham Sahaani) are dining together at Holey Artisan Bakery, a popular casual restaurant in Dhaka. Many of the restaurant’s customers are tourists. What starts out as normal day turns into a nightmare for the people inside the restaurant and their loved ones.

The five men from Rajiv’s terrorist group storm inside the restaurant with assault weapons, including shotguns and rifles that they shoot indiscriminately inside the restaurant. Many people are shot and killed instantly. Some are wounded. A warning to sensitive viewers: The violence in this movie is very graphic.

The killers then take hostage of everyone who is still alive who can be found inside the restaurant. The hostages are mixture of locals and tourists. A few employees working in the back of the restaurant manage to escape during this mass shooting, and they contact law enforcement immediately.

The five terrorists who’ve committed these heinous crimes are Nibras (played by Aditya Rawal), Rohan (played by Sachin lalwani), Mobashir (played by Jatin Sarin), Bikash (played by Harshal Pawar) and Kairul (played by Ninaad Sahaunak Bhatt), who show varying degrees of cruelty during this killing spree. Nibras is the “alpha male” of the five, since he is the one who gives the orders. Rohan is a sadistic hothead who seems to take a great deal of pleasure in killing people, sometimes with “overkill,” by shooting people who are already dead. The rest of the group members have generic personalities.

The terrorists try to weed out the people whom they think are worth saving by randomly demanding hostage victims to cite scripture from the Quran. If the hostages can’t do it, they are shot and killed. Faraaz and some other people are spared for this reason. During this interrogation, Faraaz notices that Nibras is a former schoolmate of his. Faraaz and Nibras also used to play on the same soccer team.

At one point, Faraaz asks Nibras: “How brainwashed are you?” Nibras shouts in response: “You’re the one who’s brainwashed!” Because these terrorists have ultra-conservative Muslim views, they show particular contempt for the female hostages who are are not wearing dresses and don’t have their hair covered with hijabs. Tarika is wearing jeans, and Ayesha is wearing denim shorts, and they both are wearing nothing on their heads, so you can imagine the verbal abuse and other harassment that they get from the terrorists.

Most of the movie is filmed as events take place in “real time,” which adds to the level of tension. Many things that happen inside this under-siege restaurant are what you might expect in a hostage movie. Other things are somewhat unexpected. For example, one of the terrorists shows glimmers of compassion, which is met with a lot of resistance from some of his cohorts. Will these conflicts in the group make a difference in saving lives?

Because the movie is told mainly from the perspective of Faraaz, there isn’t much that is told about the other hostages and murder victims inside the restaurant. A compassionate man named Dr. Salim Mujahid (played by Premji Jhangiani), one of the hostages who was able to quote from the Quran, treats a non-critical wound that Farah has behind his left ear. (This isn’t spoiler information, since the trailer for “Faraaz” shows that he gets wounded.)

A long-haired musician named Zaraif (played by Amir Shoeb), who has an acoustic guitar with him, is forced to play Muslim music for the terrorists. In another scene in the movie, the terrorists force Zaraif is to pose for a photo next to dead body, and they order Zaraif to smile for the camera during this sickening act. Because of his “hippie” appearance, Zaraif also becomes a target of scorn from the terrorists.

And where is Rajiv during all this madness and mayhem? He’s working in an office building, and he’s gleefully watching the events unfold through videos and photos that the terrorists have been sending to him on his phone during this rampage. Like the master manipulator that he is, Rajib has gotten his minions to do his dirty work, while he has ensured an alibi for himself during this crime spree. But he’s not very smart, because the videos and photos sent to him are evidence that can be used against him.

Meanwhile, Simeen, Zaraif and Tarika’s father Sudhir (played by Ahmir Ali) are outside the restaurant, frantically trying to get updates from the law enforcement officers who have surrounded the place in a tense standoff with the terrorists. The officers involved in this crisis include Commissioner Acchadujjaman (played by Danish Iqbal), RAB Officer Benazir (played by Kaushik Raj Chakraborty), Senior Inspector Farooq (played by Nitin Goyal), Deputy Commissioner Mushtaq (played by Aditya Mahajan) and SWAT officer Manirul (played by Rohan Roy). All of these law enforcement agents are portrayed in a standard manner in this movie.

A lot of chaos happens during this hostage crisis, but the movie skillfully keeps coming back to the way that the past acquaintance connection between Faraaz and Nibras will affect both of them in their thoughts and actions. In addition to solid acting from the principal cast members, “Faraaz” has very effective editing and cinematography that can immerse viewers into thing happening inside and outside the restaurant.

The movie’s introduction has a statement saying that “Faraaz” is dedicated to the heroes of this tragedy. But just like any movie about real people who were murdered, “Faraaz” is getting criticism for being exploitative. Most of this criticism is coming from people who haven’t seen the movie.

People who actually watch the entire film will probably find some of the violence disturbing, but “Faraaz” does not put any shame or exploitation on the victims, nor does it glamorize the terrorists. And although most of the characters in “Faraaz” get surface-level personalities, it’s because of the “real-time” pacing of the movie. There are no “flashbacks” to show the lives of the individual hostages.

Viewers are invited to think about why two men who went to the same school and share the same religion could end up in two very different places in how they think that religion should be a part of their lives and the lives of other people. There are no easy answers, and the “Faraaz” wisely chose not to spend any screen time showing how Rajiv persuaded his terrorist subordinates to do his bidding. The best takeaway from “Faraaz”—and the clear intention of the movie—is to show that even among atrocities and deep despair, there can also be courage and kindness that are stronger than any terrorist act.

Reliance Entertainment released “Faraaz” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on February 3, 2023.

Review: ‘Hawa’ (2022), starring Chanchal Chowdhury, Nazifa Tushi and Sariful Razz

September 6, 2022

by Carla Hay

Nazifa Tushi in “Hawa” (Photo courtesy of Jaaz Multimedia)

“Hawa” (2022)

Directed by Mejbaur Rahman Sumon

Bengali with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in the Bay of Bengal near Bangladesh, the horror film “Hawa” has a cast of characters from Bangladesh representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: After a mysterious woman gets caught in a net from a fishing boat, she is pulled aboard, and strange things start to happen to the fishermen on the boat.

Culture Audience: “Hawa” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching slow-paced horror movies that save the best scenes for the last third of the movie.

Pictured clockwise, from bottom left: Rizvi Rizu, Shohel Mondol, Sariful Razz, Bablu Bose, Nasir Uddin Khan, Mahmud Alam, Chanchal Chowdhury and Sumon Anowar in “Hawa” (Photo courtesy of Jaaz Multimedia)

The “slow burn” horror movie “Hawa” doesn’t get to its most terrifying moments until the last third of the film, but the long buildup to this terror is worth the wait. “Hawa” has a lot to say about gender dynamics when there’s only one woman in an isolated place with men. The movie takes its time in showing the increasing tension between the all-male team on a fishing boat (they are all fishermen for a living) and the mysterious young woman who literally gets ensnared in one of their nets.

Directed by Mejbaur Rahman Sumon, “Hawa” (which means “the wind” in Bengali) takes place entirely in a remote part of the Bay of Bengal, where the closest nation is Bangladesh. Sumon co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with DurSukorno Shahed Dhiman and Jaheen Faruque Ameen. (“Hawa” was filmed on St. Martin’s Island in the Bay of Bengal.) The movie’s central setting is a mid-sized fishing boat whose below-deck area is equipped with a furnace room, a storage area and some sleeping quarters.

During the fateful trip that’s depicted in this movie, there are eight members of the fishing team, including their captain, who are all men. Except for one brief scene in the movie, when another boat appears, the people on this fishing boat are isolated. It’s mentioned at one point that women aren’t allowed on these fishing trips.

The gender composition in this trip changes one night when they find a young woman caught in one of their nets. At first, she appears to be dead, but she’s actually unconscious. When the woman is brought on board and regains consciousness, she remains mute until a pivotal part of the story.

“Hawa” looks like a movie that could take place in an undetermined decade in the late 20th century or early 21st century. There is no mention of technology, such as the Internet or cell phones, to make contact with people. If the boat has a radio, it’s not seen or used.

About halfway through the movie, it’s revealed that the mystery woman’s name is Gulti (played by Nazifa Tushi). It’s also eventually revealed why Gulti was found in this part of bay that is so far from land and from other boats. Because she does not speak when she is first discovered, and she has no identification, the men decide that they will drop her off at the nearest town when their fishing trip is completed.

In the meantime, the fishermen decide that Gulti will have to do some work on the boat, in order to earn her place. Some of the men on the boat misinterpret Gulti’s silence for weakness. Two of the men try to sexually assault her on separate occasions. Gulti is able to fight them off, but her attackers hold grudges.

The first attempted rape happens when the boat’s domineering, middle-aged and arrogant captain Chaan Manjhi (played by Chanchal Chowdhury) tries to lure Gulti to go with him below deck to the furnace room to have a sexual encounter. He licks his lips lasciviously at her to make it known what his intentions are. As he tries to physically lead Gulti down to the furnace room, she pushes him away.

An enraged Chaan gets physically aggressive with Gulti. He calls her a “fucking whore” and tries to force her into the furnace room. Gulti is able to defend herself by taking a machete and getting Chaan to back off of her during their physical altercation on the deck. He’s so startled, he falls backward into the water and has to be rescued by members of his crew.

For the rest of the trip, Chaan tries to make Gulti as miserable as possible. He’s verbally abusive to her, and he orders her around like a slave. When she brings Chaan a drink, he says that serving him a drink isn’t “real work,” and she has to earn her place on the boat by doing work that’s a lot more physically demanding.

The second time that Gulti is almost raped, the attack comes from a middle-aged crew member named Eja (played by Sumon Anowar), who tries to physically subdue Gulti at the beginning of this sexual assault. Eja’s assault, which is even more prolonged than Chaan’s, involves Eja hitting Gulti, trying to remove her clothes, and grabbing Gulti to try to get her to do what he wants. Gulti successfully defends herself by eventually kicking Eja in the crotch, and he stops attacking her.

Not everyone on the boat wants to hurt Gulti. Most of the men don’t bother her and don’t interact with her much. But there’s one crew member in particular who goes out of his way to be kind to Gulti. He’s a young man named Ibrahim (played by Sariful Razz), nicknamed Iba, and he’s the boat’s friendly mechanic.

Iba is attracted to Gulti, and the feeling appears to be mutual. Iba is also the first person whom Gulti talks to on the boat. Iba and Gulti meet for secret late-night talks in the water. During one of their first conversations, she drops hints that she could be a mermaid.

The biggest flaw of “Hawa” is this 130-minute movie has some unnecessary scenes that drag down the pace of the movie. The first half of the movie is kind of a tedious slog that shows the men on the boat going through various power struggles and disagreements about the work that needs to be done. Early on in the movie, someone tries to steal fish for himself and quickly gets reprimanded for it by Chaan, who rules the boat like a dictator.

The other men on the boat are supporting characters whose personalities don’t leave much of an impression until the last third of the movie. Twin brothers Parkes (played by Rizvi Rizu) and Urkes (played by Shohel Mondol), who are in their 20s, are very close and look like they have a co-dependent relationship. The other crew members, whose ages range from 30s to 40s, are Nagu (played by Nasir Uddin Khan), Mora (played by Mahmud Alam) and Foni (palyed by Mahmud Alam), who have varying degrees of loyalty to Chaan.

“Hawa” has cinematography by Kamrul Hasan Khoshru and Tanveer Ahmed Shovon that effectively immerses viewers into the moods for the daytime and nighttime scenes. During the day, the fishing team is focused on work, but their isolation is still evident, because the boat is usually shown as the only one in the immediate area. At night, the atmosphere becomes more menacing and foreboding for anyone on board the ship.

What’s less realistic choices are in the makeup, costume design and hairstyle for Gulti, who appears in many scenes with perfectly applied makeup, her clothing well-styled, and her hair neatly combed or put up in a bun. Considering that she was found unconscious in the water while tangled in a net, it’s highly unlikely that she would have any makeup or beauty supplies with her, or that there would be any makeup on the boat. Gulti’s dress (the only outfit she has in the movie) sometimes also looks a little too neatly styled, when it should look more worn and tattered, considering everything that she goes through in the movie.

There’s a supernatural aspect to the story that could explain Gulti’s well-kept appearance, so viewers might have to suspend some disbelief when they see Gulti looking like a model on this very unglamorous and dirty boat. The men don’t seem to notice how Gulti manages to look picture-perfect in this rough environment. The men that do notice her physical appearance look at her from the angle of her sex appeal.

The troublemaking members of this fishing team feel more freedom to cause mischief and mayhem at night. And even though Chaan is the captain of the boat, even he can be vulnerable to anyone who has a reason to dislike him. He’s not only cruel to Gulti, but he’s also mean-spirited to members of the crew.

Viewers need patience to sit through the often-tedious first half of “Hawa” before the story gets a lot more interesting. Even though “Hawa” definitely needed tighter editing, the last third of the movie proves that it’s a memorable and suspenseful thriller. And the movie’s last image is haunting and very effective.

Jaaz Multimedia released “Hawa” in select U.S. cinemas on September 2, 2022. The movie was released in Bangladesh on July 29, 2022.

Review: ‘Paap Punyo,’ starring Chanchal Chowdhury, Siam Ahmed, Shahnaz Sumi, Farzana Chumki and Afsana Mimi

June 1, 2022

by Carla Hay

Chanchal Chowdhury and Farzana Chumki in “Paap Punyo” (Photo courtesy of Impress Telefilm)

“Paap Punyo”

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.

Shahnaz Sumi and Siam Ahmed in “Paap Punyo” (Photo courtesy of Impress Telefilm)

“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.

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