RECENTLY, ROLES AND PERFORMANCES OF BANGLADESHI ACTRESSES HAVE BROKEN THROUGH STEREOTYPES IN LEAPS AND BOUNDS. A REVIEW OF TWO RECENT RELEASES, ANTARJAL, AND KHUFIYA, DELVE INTO THE MATTER IN DETAIL.
ANTARJAL THE DARK WORLD OF THE DARK WEB
It’s the fourth industrial revolution and an ominous entity from the dark web makes its presence felt. A prominent bank in the bustling capital city of Dhaka is hacked and thousands of account holders have their transactions stopped. The hackers demand the PLS-71, but is that just a smokescreen for a bigger motive?
With an intensely gripping plot, the nation’s first cyber thriller – in association with the ICT Ministry – Antarjal by Dipankar Dipon is an over the top, extravagant, star-studded affair, full of twists and turns. The film takes the rather complex threat of cybercrime and simplifies the contemporary problem for the audience, while also adding an entertaining spin to it.
The movie stars Siam Ahmed as Lumin, a gifted techie from Rajshahi with open opportunities around the world. Choosing to remain in his home country and give back to his community, Lumin, haunted by past traumas, proves crucial in uncovering the devious intentions of the opposing forces.
Sunerah Binte Kamal portrays the role of a student, Priyom, in the robotics department of BUET. “I will be seen in an unforeseen way in the film,” said the popular actress. She has been cast opposite Siam to play his love interest in the movie and despite having a very narrow romantic window, the couple is refreshing to watch together.
Another illustrious name, Bidya Sinha Mim shines in her role as a foreign IT graduate, Nishat, and represents the country in the field of cyber-attack as an officer of BGD e-GOV CIRT. “This is the first time I will be seen in such a role on screen,” shares Mim. Hers is a strong part, full of drama and action.
WITH AN INTENSELY GRIPPING PLOT, THE NATION’S FIRST CYBER THRILLER- IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE ICT MINISTRY- ANTARJAL BY DIPANKAR DIPON IS AN OVER THE TOP, EXTRAVAGANT, STAR-STUDDED AFFAIR, FULL OF TWISTS AND TURNS.
The story is amazingly paced. As the nation is gripped in the fear of more cyber-attacks, the youngsters of the country rise to the occasion, striving to find out the truth behind the cryptic demands of the hackers. They launch a hackathon, involving techies and hackers across the country, and the volley of attacks between the protagonists and antagonists is perhaps the most interesting part of the movie.
As the plot thickens and the mystery surrounding the coveted PLS-71 deepens, Dipon takes his viewers through an intriguing journey, slowing at times to focus on the strong characters, but never once swaying from the tight storyline. His storytelling has a touch of patriotism, especially where he introduces the existence of Bangladesh’s visionary project – Antarjal-21. He makes clever use of VFX where necessary, and adds an unexpected plot twist towards the end that is sure to linger in the viewers’ minds for a while after the movie is over.
KHUFIYA A GRIPPING TALE OF REVENGE AND PATRIOTISM
Vishal Bhardwaj’s new espionage thriller, Khufiya, was released to the public on the 5th of October this year. Loosely inspired by Amar Bhushan’s famous novel Escape to Nowhere, this Netflix release has garnered substantial praise for its honest portrayal of a spy’s life.
Featuring Bollywood’s veterans and underrated national and international talents, the thriller delves into the life of a sharp spy, KM (played by Tabu) who also wears the hats of a mother and lover. Ali Fazal impresses as an overindulgent traitor whose life story unravels later in the movie. Wamiqa Gabbi, playing his wife is another strong female lead whose character for the first half of the movie is deceptively reduced to a dutiful wife with vices such as dancing and smoking. As the plot evolves, however, she reveals some top-class acting skills as a mother who would go to any lengths to get her son back.
Ashish Vidyarthi plays the ever sensible, no-nonsense leader of the team, and Azmeri Haque Badhan shines in her small but pivotal role of Octopus, who is killed on duty and avenged later by her love interest. When asked about her experience working with leading Bollywood stars, Badhan mentions, “It’s definitely something I enjoyed. Although the length of the character in the movie is not very big, working with Tabu was great.”
A woman torn between her work and her private life, Tabu’s character is deliciously complex, nuanced and authentic. Led by an impartial, sensible leader, Jeev, KM launches herself powerfully into the mysterious world of espionage with an apparent, patriotic mission, and her own ulterior motive to avenge her love interest, Octopus.
Some have argued that the movie takes its time unravelling, and there is a lot of build up before it picks up pace. Others have defended the detailed setting of the story as being important to the events that would unfold later. Everyone, however, agrees that Vishal Bhardwaj’s directorial vision has given fresh perspective to the untapped notion of the largely repressed or overly hyped personal connections of a spy’s life, depending on the situation that needs diffusing.
Speaking of powerful female leads, Bhardwaj does a superb job of weaving some undeniable chemistry between Tabu and Badhan. Without seeming too in-your-face, the suggested sensuality between these characters is palpable, and the director proves yet again, how no one can do such complete and immaculate justice to covert roles as well as female actors. As the characters sashay dangerously into the shadowy world of espionage, they portray trust, friendship, loyalty and a thirst for purpose as only women can.
Lovers of fast-paced, nail-biting thrillers may not find what they want from this movie. It does, however, promise the hallmark Vishal Bhardwaj charm in its authenticity, and character profile. With some soul stirring music to complement the plot, the drama unfolds much like a cup of tea on a stormy evening – poetic, and with the power to warm you down with its extraordinary storytelling.