Director Akram Khan’s second film "Khancha" (The Cage) is set in 1947 during the Partition of India and Pakistan. It was also the official selection from Bangladesh submitted for this year's Oscars. Based on Hasan Azizul Haque's book "Ekoi Namer Golpo", this 110 minute moviecovers a time span of 16 years.
Structured to unfold like a novel, the story begins in 1948, in Jessore, Bangladesh. Ombujakkho Chokroborty (Azad Abul Kalam), a high caste Hindu Brahmin, desperately searches for suitable interested parties to exchange his family home in Muslim-majority East Bengal and move to Hindu-majority West Bengal. A number of prospects for house exchanges arise and fall through. Years go by and his wife, Sharajini (Jaya Ahsan), becomes restless. Their children get bullied and skip school in the hopes of starting anew after they move to India. But 16 years after independence from the British, Ombujakkho finally gives up on moving when it is obvious that it is far too late.
The opening scene sets the mood and tone for the film. Ombujakkho goes to the post office and waits, anticipating a letter from a potential house exchange partner. We soon meet Sharajini doing household chores. Their large estate bears proof of their affluent past. Their sons, Shurjo and Arun, and daughter Pushpa all get bullied by locals, as they have fallen from grace. However, these children don't appear to be overly worried about the delay in moving to India, and we do not get to see how they are ultimately affected by staying back.
The only character who had a visible narrative arc was Ombujakkho. The film followed his journey from a well-adjusted doctor to an incoherent music-enthusiast. Even though Sharajini curses more with the passage of time, she did not have a clear character arc that would justify her drastic measures in the climactic final scene.
Anyone who has been to the countryside in Bangladesh can appreciate the lifelike ambience used throughout the film. The ceaseless sounds of crickets chirping, dogs barking and geckos wailing not only creates atmosphere, it transports the audience right to the middle of rural Bengal. Sound is also used symbolically and to introduce a spiritual element in the film. The barking of dogs is referred to as a bad omen, while wailing geckos represent the House God paying a visit.
The director’s attention to details in the set design was impeccable. The brass utensils, antique wooden furniture, and excessive traditional gold jewellery all invoke nostalgia. In a scene where Sharajini reminisces about a time 25 years ago when the entire family gathered at the courtyard to take a family photo by an anglophile photographer in a suit and a hat, the audience reminisces with her.
The film will be telecast on Channel i on the fifth day of Eid at 10:15am.
Other films to air on Channel i this Eid-
Film: ‘Kaler Putul’ (2018)
Director: Aka Reza Ghalib
Time: Eid day at 2:30pm
Cast: Ferdous Ahmed, Ashish Khandaker, Shahed Ali Sujon, Bithi Rani Sarker
Film: ‘Dulabhai Zindabad’ (2017)
Director: Montazur Rahman Akbar
Time: Second day of Eid at 10:15am
Cast: Bidya Sinha Saha, Mousumi, Monwar Hossain Dipjol
Film: ‘Alta Banu’ (2018)
Director: Arun Chowdhury
Time: Third day of Eid at 10:15am
Cast: Zakia Bari Momo, Farzana Rikta, Anisur Rahman Milon
Film: ‘Bhalo Theko’ (2018)
Director: Jakir Hossain Raju
Time: Fourth day of Eid at 10:15am
Cast: Arifin Shuvoo, Tanha Tasnia, Jacky Alamgir
Film: Chitkini (2017)
Director: Sajedul Awwal
Time: Sixth day of Eid at 10:15am
Cast: Runa Khan, Manas Bandopadhyay, Bhaswar Bandyopadhyay