Sunday, November 2, 2014

Aguner Poroshmoni directed by Humayun Ahmed

Source: Wikipedia
Aguner Poroshmoni
Bangladesh (Bengali), 1995
123 min, war
Director: Humayun Ahmed
Aguner Poroshmoni (1995) on IMDb

The first film directed by the late Humayun Ahmed, a famous Bangladeshi novelist and director.

Caught in the middle of a genocide, one family struggles to survive

1971, East Pakistan: the Bengali guerilla fighters of the Mukti Bahini are engaged in a life-or-death struggle with the Pakistani army. In what was later termed a genocide, the Pakistani military had launched an operation to suppress the Bengali nationalist movement in May 1971. They targeted intellectuals, civilians, students, and activists, brutally murdering them and burying them in mass graves. Many women were captured and used as sex slaves by the soldiers. When the Bengali people realized what was happening, many fled to take refuge in India. Some returned with weapons as part of the Mukti Bahini, using acts of terrorism and guerilla warfare to counter the overwhelming Pakistani force. This struggle ended by the end of the year, with the result of Bangladesh gaining independence from Pakistan. The war, then, is called the Bangladesh Liberation War.

In the midst of this terrible situation, one family in Dhaka is trying to live life as normally as possible. But then the father brings home a man, a stranger that the family has never met before. They soon discover that he's a member of the Mukti Bahini. They must decide whether to help him and endanger themselves, or to make him leave and probably be killed. 

The full film (without English subtitles, unfortunately) on Youtube:

I don't usually like films about war, but this one is an exception. It beautifully captures the struggles of a family caught in a terrible situation - in the midst of war and genocide, how can you keep going? Do you choose to do the safe thing and keep a low profile, or do you try to fight against the terrors around you in whatever way you can? The film demonstrates a range of responses, from the man who has locked himself in his house for months to the freedom fighter who plots to attack the Pakistani forces directly. It's a delicate balance, and each person and each family must make their own decision on how to respond to the circumstances.

Depicting the atrocities

Humayun Ahmed does not flinch from representing the true state of affairs in Bangladesh during the Liberation War. The movie depicts the atrocities inflicted on the Bengali people by the Pakistani military. At the same time, the horrors of the war are generally implied, instead of shown in graphic detail. Images of men being selected out of the passengers on a bus, then hauled away in a truck. Workers digging a large pit. The expressions on people's faces when they see a Pakistani patrol. The gravediggers praying after they fill the pit with dirt again. This is much more effective and moving than showing images of mass graves or executions, because the real terror of it is left to the imagination.

Love in the midst of violence

My favorite part of this movie is the love story between the freedom fighter and the family's daughter. She truly believes in the cause that he's fighting for, and she idolizes him because of that. But she also falls in love with him. The struggle that she faces between encouraging him to put himself in danger for the cause and wanting to protect him is raw and emotional. It comes to the fore at the end, when she begs him to open his eyes to see the light of morning. "One day we'll gain independence! And on that day I will play the harmonica and dance. Won't you be there with me? Won't you?"

A question for you, my dear reader: what did you think of the ending?

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  1. "Aguner Poroshmoni" song is very heart touching specially for Rabindranath Tagore, cause he is one the most greatest writter of the world. I could self realize again when I listen the song and feel the lyrics.

    1. Its amazing that the song was written by Tagore as a dedication to Jesus !