Chaka is a testament of good and evil coexisting in god-fearing village dwellers
Director Morshedul Islam’s Chaka and Agami are considered two of the important films in the Bangla cinema industry. To celebrate the silver jubilee of Chaka and the 35th anniversary of Agami, an event was held at the National Art Gallery Auditorium of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA).
The programme was jointly organised by Chalachitram Film Society and BSA on October 5.
Filmmakers Morshedul Islam, Syed Salauddin Jaki, Children’s Film Society Bangladesh General Secretary Munira Morshed Munni, cinematographer Maksudul Bari and others were present on the occasion.
Morshedul Islam’s notable films include Agami (1984), Chaka (1993), Dipu Number Two (1996), Dukhai (1997), Khelaghor 2006), Durotto (2006), and Amar Bondhu Rashed (2011).
Morshedul Islam made his film-making debut in 1984 with the short film Agami. The short film is based on the Liberation War.
His critically acclaimed film, Chaka is based on Selim Al Deens book by the same name. The tragic story of the film revolves around a mother who sacrifices her only child for the sake of the freedom of the country during the Liberation War in 1971.
Chaka has made its mark in the history of Bangladeshi cinema by winning numerous international accolades. Based on Selim Al Deen's story by the same name, the film won Best Director and Best Film at the 1994 Dunkirk International Film Festival (France), FIPRESCI and Jury Awards at the 1993 Mannheim Film Festival (Germany). It was also screened at the 1994 International Film Festival Rotterdam (Netherlands).
The story starts when two drivers of an ox cart stop to inspect why there’s a commotion in front of a village healthcare centre. The crowd there inform them an unclaimed body needs to be buried. They give the drivers an address to deliver the body to. The drivers unwillingly take the body with them to the said village, but to no avail. Everyone shows an interest, but no one cares enough to bury the body, not knowing the identity of the deceased.
Ashish Khandakar, Amirul Haque Chowdhury, Abul Khayer and Dilara Zaman play the central roles in Chaka. Pulak Gupta’s music helps evoke melancholy, while Nazrul Islam’s editing tells us we’re in no hurry to skip to the end. Director Morshedul Islam takes us through every step taken by these unsuspecting drivers, as though to tell us how we need to be patient and empathetic in order to truly grasp the significance of the story.
The film stands out from the crowd with its surprisingly simplistic visuals. An array of wide shots of rural Bangladesh, in a warm and earthy colour palette, takes the audience on a journey into the unknown. Although the Bengal countryside more or less looks the same, the unfamiliarity of the landscapes and its people reinforce a sense of helplessness that engulfs the protagonists throughout their lonesome journey.
Chaka is a testament of good and evil coexisting in god-fearing village dwellers. The repetition of the muddy roads and the same ox cart is very artfully captured on cinematographer Anwar Hossain’s camera. The visual monotony echoes the state of mind of the unfortunate bearers of this unclaimed dead body. It blends into the story to create cinematic moments that leave cinema lovers in awe, even today.