On the second day of the 18th International Film Festival of Kerala, Mostafa Sarwar Farooki’s Bangladeshi flick “Television” won the hearts of the audience, despite the fact that it was being screened for the second time. Set in a rural village of Bangladesh dominated by Muslims, the film is a funny and ironic take on the orthodoxies and prejudices that the society resorts in the guise of a religion.
So in this remote village, television is banned, young people cannot use mobile phones, photography is banned . . . the list goes on. Amin, is a powerful religious leader who decides what to be legalized and what not. And for this, he calls to his help the religious sutures that he twists and turns according to the situation. The ardent fundamentalist reminds one of the “pigs”, the hypocritical leaders in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, especially when he legalizes the use of mobile phones for youngsters, except girls, when he is forced to buy his own son a phone.
Amin’s son Solaiman, his help Moinu and the bubbly and beautiful Kohinoor also make the film interesting. Kohinoor forces Solaiman, to rebel against his father’s rule, which he does, but barely lasts. Meanwhile, Moinu plays the third fiddle with his unending affection towards Kohinoor. When Kumar sir, a Hindu, buys a television for himself since his religion does not forbid him from watching it, what follows in the village is a series of interestingly funny events.
Parvathy PK, a movie lover and house wife, says that the film gives a very simple message about the unwanted bans we impose on youngsters citing moral and religious reasons.
“I know the film is Bangladeshi, but I couldn’t stop comparing it with the shallow statements that the khap panchayats and even police officers come up with in our country these days”, she says.
The film ends with the Amin, the fundamentalist, after being cheated of his money on the false promise of a Hajj trip, meekly watching the live event through television or rather the box that Jews made to corrupt the rest. Irony, is it?
I think using that word here is a gross understatement. What happens at that moment is beyond words, Amin doesn’t even realize he failed in the principles he held on for a lifetime, after all that wasn’t all that important to him either, or was it?