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‘Poaatiaa’ and ‘The Ballad of Laila – Leela’: Female gaze revisited

  • Published at 06:24 pm April 5th, 2019
‘Poaatiaa’
‘Poaatiaa’ portrays mother daughter relationship in a new setting | Collected

Three short films by three female filmmakers—featuring female protagonists facing everyday challenges in society—were screened on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Each film was unique, and each film will invoke powerful emotions within their viewers. The first review, of the film 'Seeyou,' was published a couple of weeks ago. Here are the reviews of 'Poaatiaa,' and 'The Ballad of Laila - Leela'

‘Poaatiaa: Dawn’

Runtime: 23 minutes 28 seconds

Director: Sumana Barman

The film “Poaatiaa” will definitely make you feel guilty. “Poaatiaa” is the tale of a mother and daughter from an indigenous community of Bangladesh. The mother is a tailor’s assistant, who works hard to earn food for her family of three. The daughter is the film's protagonist, and spends most of her time with her old grandmother at home, when she is not at school.

After the exposition, a good-looking stranger comes to the village they are living in; he slowly, and very deliberately, woos the girl. The mother is also seen, in snippets, talking to a particular man. The film draws everyone in with the alleged parallel romance of mother and daughter. 

I request the viewers to watch the film and see how the climax unfolds. My verdict is that the retelling of an old tale in this new setting, with fresh characters, will leave a refreshed feeling in viewers' minds. 

All the characters are prominent archetypes of our contemporary society. The three women of the family, representing three ages of women, will melt the hearts of all viewers; especially the men of Bangladesh, who should definitely reassess how they treat the women of their lives.

The language spoken in the film is the local dialect of the indigenous actors, who acted fabulously in the film. There are some moments of Bangla. The conflict between indigenous minorities and the hegemony of the majority is also touched upon, through the language. 

Undoubtedly, viewers will enjoy the film.

'The Ballad of Laila-Leela’ strikes the men who need women in their lives to make changes | Collected ‘The Ballad of Laila – Leela’

Runtime: 28:09

Director: Lubna Sharmin

“The Ballad of Laila – Leela” is a strange story. Throughout the exposition and rising action, you will think the film is about the classic conflict between Hindus and Muslims in an inter-religious marriage. However, by the end of the film you will be stumped. 

Leela is the daughter of a Hindu priest, stationed in the house of a prominent Zamindar (rich landlord). A chance meeting with a Muslim stranger, leads Leela to fall in love with him. The marriage happens in the presence of the Hindu father, and Leela has to change her religion; accept the new religion of her husband.

What will strike you is the priest father’s acceptance of her daughter’s conversion. In fact, the father voluntarily escorts his daughter to the house of the Muslim man, so the marriage can happen, and the daughter can live with dignity.

This led me to think that the film’s main point was to show a success story among the sad history of inter-religion marriages. Leela faces minor hiccups, and a few adjustments here-and-there; issues commonplace in most marriages. 

The film will definitely strike the men who require their wives to make changes in their lives for their sake. Leela is renamed Laila Khatun, and has to follow all the prayer laws of Islam, in her new house, at her in-laws' insistence. 

Yet, Leela’s husband is always by her side. He in fact finds a container of sindoor, brought by Leela, and uses it to mark the forehead of his Muslim-converted wife, to pay homage to the Hindu wedding custom. It was the best moment by far, within the film, and made me wish for the day, when all husbands will treat their wives with similar respect and care. 

Yet the film’s ending is very mysterious. I failed to decipher it, and I will not reveal any of it, to avoid spoilers. I request the viewers watch the film, and tell me what they think of the ending, of the fabulously acted “Ballad of Laila - Leela”