I’m leaving my heart behind

After a decade of Monpura, Giasuddin Selim is back with another heart wrenching love story, Swapnajaal. This film, set in the 90s communal violence and aftermath of Bangladesh, however, has a strong parallel story. Swapnajaal has already seen critical appreciation as well as solid turnover. Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree reviews the film.   

Official poster of the movie Swapnajaal (2018).

Official poster of the movie Swapnajaal (2018).

Set in the 1990s, against the backdrop of ongoing communal violence against Bengali Hindus and other minorities in Bangladesh, the story of Swapnajaal depicts a love story between an unlikely couple, a Muslim boy Apu and a Hindu girl Shuvra. The film is directed by the talented Giasuddin Selim who has been praised aplenty before for his film Monpura, which was a commercial milestone in our film industry.

With two parallel plots, the film marches ahead with Apu and Shuvra, both are children of well-off local business holders. Their love for each other blooms colourfully with every passing day despite their parents suspecting and evidently disapproving of the affair. A blow comes to both Apu and Shubhra as the latter’s father, Hiran Shaha, disappears after a dispute with another local businessman Aynal Gazi.

The film showcases the exploitation by the powerful businessman Aynal Gazi who plots a very thoughtful and almost non-decipherable scheme to take Hiran out of the picture while usurping all his properties. With the father gone, and no belongings left, Shuvra’s family is to set for Kolkata. This inevitably breaks off the pair of lovers, they are faced with a heart wrenching situation where they are bound to say goodbye.

With Shuvra gone to Kolkata, Apu lives in misery. However, he keeps looking for a lost thread in the scene. As Aynal Gazi takes over Hiran’s properties, Apu gradually comes to suspect his hand in killing Hiran. Meanwhile, far away in Kolkata, Shuvra discovers the reality of a fatherless young girl in context of Indian subcontinent, but she denies going about it without giving it a fight. Apu makes it to Kolkata in search of Shuvra and they set out to bring justice to Hiran Shaha.

Karma has its role on Aynal Gazi too, his health fell apart after the murder of Hiran Shaha, and distrust makes him hostile towards his own son Thandu.

But, would fighting for justice together bring Shuvra and Apu together too? Will the stigma and crime of falling love with someone from a different religion be looked over? Can such love ever be accepted without having the tag of an exception? You will find answers to these questions in the film. For some, the ending shall be heart-breaking, for some disappointing, but it will surely touch the audience.

These stories, we know them, we see them, we experience them, and, we become them till this day. Maybe this is what makes Swapnajaal very ordinarily extraordinary. One can contemplate the emotions associated with one’s country, the people who had to leave their motherland because the majority of the force does not quite approve of them. We see Shuvra reminiscing her memories that she had in the bank of river Dakatia, Chandpur. The plight of one leaving their ancestral home and the love in getting back to it construct the major storyline of this movie.

Swapnajaal took up the matter of interfaith love affairs, which, till this day, is a taboo in our country. If, as we claim, our ever progressive society cannot accept two people coming together in  love because they profess to different religions, there was no question of accepting it 30 years or so back. The supporting characters reinstate it, that they abide by the society and society does not approve such relationships. Shuvra questions the logicality of such social structure.

The cinematography of the movie is convincingly lovely. The story set in the banks of river Dakatia which draws effortlessly the beauty of Bangladesh, the suburban town life of the 90s. The songs from this film are soothing to the eyes as well, giving the movie a perfect blend; a smart recipe of commercial success.

The most brilliant part, undeniably, is the super performance from the cast. There is nothing to restate about the excellence of Fazlur Rahaman Babu’s acting abilities. Aynal Gazi came to life through him and became this utmost detestable, cringe worthy character. One will have to hate the extreme evilness in Aynal Gazi, and one will have to love Babu’s subtlety in bringing out the hatred in audience for this character. Iresh Zaker as Thandu the goon was quite refreshing, he brought comic reliefs whenever the story intensified too much. New face in commercial movies, Yash Rohan, looked anything but like a Bengali movie hero. He was just Apu for the audience, deeply in love with Shuvra, no other identity of this boy would come to one’s mind when the movie ends.

The performance which highly charmed the audience was that of Pori Moni’s. It is believed that how an actor performs, greatly depends on the director. It must be true as we have seen a rather mature acting from Pori Moni, almost to the level of perfection. Her performance was life-like and free-flowing, and it was definitely one of her best performances, ever. There was an aura of naturality in her dialogue throwing. Along with Yash Rohan, together they presented before the audience a love story that seems to be very real, not a story at all.

As for criticism, there were some parts which did not contribute to the story, like Shuvra’s involvement in theatre and playing Tagore’s Nandini. Frequent code-switching was observed, which is very unlikely in the context of 90s Bangladesh. There was inconsistency in costumes at times. Apart from that, the movie seems to hold it together without lingering of any part. It might not be a movie to be remembered even after a 100 years, for the two hours at the hall, it will keep you hooked. Alert for the couples, it might make you hold each other or to make a public display of love from being overtly emotional.

Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree is a member of the New Age Youth team.


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