A devout village leader prohibits an array of modern devices, but when his strict measures go too far, the locals rise up in popular rebellion.
What is the story about?
Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s film Television which originally made in 2012 has now released on Hoichoi. In the Muslim religion, entertainment is considered to be haram. Hence to adhere to the codes of conducts of Islam a Muslim cleric bans television from his village, stating them to be a distraction. So even when a journalist approaches him for an interview, he uses a ‘parda’ to avoid coming in visual contact with the evil existence called a camera. When the lady journalist goes to interact with other inhabitants of the village, one of the set-up men of the cleric claims the village to be a happy place and mockingly questions her gender for wearing pants.
Villagers start sneaking out of the village for visual, camera-based, entertainment. A Hindu man in the village becomes a much-sought home tutor, however, the followers of the Muslim cleric develop his own means with his followers to ensure that people in his village are kept away from the ‘dangers’ of technology.
The cast includes Kazi Shahir, Huda Rumi, Chanchal Chowdhury, Nusrat Imrose, Tisha Mosharraf, Karim Mukit, Zakaria Shamim, Shahed Robena, Reza Jui. In a small budget film such as Television, the cast members adapted their linguistics in a suitable order and fashion. People in the countryside, tend to accentuate Bengali, slightly differently than people in Bangladesh’s Dhaka or Kolkata. The cast had made an excellent attempt in their contribution to appear real on screen.
There are distracting subplots which almost ruins an otherwise excellent attempt to bring out the real problem in Bangladesh. It doesn’t completely fail to stick to one attempt but simply becomes an unnecessary distraction when Majnu begins to stalk Kohinoor while working for his leader. It should have been about the absurdity of banning technologies in the village, and barring the village from (not just forms of entertainment) but culture, news updates and a chance to get a glimpse of what the world looks like, or even how Bangladesh looks like.
The cinematography hugely concentrates on rural Bangladesh, which doesn’t look completely different from the ghats or Bengal, or any city with a river by its side. There develops a universal connection.
The subtitles (at least in Hoichoi) is not synchronised well. Islam may be the second most followed religion in the world, and Television is a bravely constructed reflecting its downsides. The film made it appear as if not bringing a television is the only problem in religion. In various certain countries, women are restricted from their basic freedom and are told to take permission from their husbands for minor decisions in their life. In India, that’s sprawling with Muslim actors such as Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, late actor Irrfan Khan and actresses such as Katrina Kaif, Hina Khan, Shabana Azmi, Huma Qureshi, an otherwise talented actress, Zaira Wasim, who won a National Award for her debut performance in Dangal now refuses to call herself an actress, stating that she wants to be true to her faith. The problem is not restricted to one corner in Bangladesh but is universal.
Did I enjoy it?
It was admirable and quite brave to make an attempt to highlight a real issue. Brave attempts by creative people in the film industry should always be welcome.
Do I recommend it?
Yes. Where there is a script on religion there is always a question of acceptance, the lack of which leads to controversies. At a time when most comedians from India choose to maintain silence when they are asked about why they never construct their jokes based on the second most followed religion in the world, they claim that they wouldn’t want to hurt the ‘minority’ section.