The camera flashes, Chairman Amin looks downwards, the photographer asks him to open his eyes and look at the camera. Amin looks at the camera helplessly - as if the whole world is crumbling in front of him. The photographer keeps taking photos.
This is a scene from Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's acclaimed film "Television." And the scene, like the rest of the movie, speaks volumes.
Watch the trailer of "Television" here
The film's narrative revolves around the lives of people of a village in Noakhali, Chandpur, and the head of the village Chairman, Amin (Shahir Kazi Huda). Amin is a devout Muslim who has forbidden every sort of image in the village as he believes it goes against Islam.
He is an authoritarian but has good intentions for his people. In the opening scene of the film, he hides behind a huge screen while being interviewed on TV following the bizarre norms of the village.
The chairman condemns all forms of new technology in the village, including television and mobile phones. Never in his life had Amin taken a photo of himself but the prospect of going to Hajj compelled him to take one.
On the other hand, Amin's son - Solaiman (Chanchal Chowdhury), with the help of one of his employees - Mojnu (Mosharraf Karim), acquires a mobile phone to talk to his girlfriend, Kohinoor (Nusrat Imrose Tisha).
After many interesting twists and turns, the film ends with a television serving as a tool for Amin to connect to God. The irony of the scene is that it was a television that helped Amin connect to God.
"Television" was the officially selected film from Bangladesh to compete at the 86th Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film. It created buzz at the 17th Busan Film Festival in 2012 and received rave reviews.
Writing about the film, The Hollywood Reporter said: Mostofa Sarwar Farooki could be the next South Asian filmmaker to break out. Set in a small village and basking in the little details of daily Bengali life- and not even hinging on Muslim/Hindu tension- the film about progress and the bonds of family boasts production values high for the region which should guarantee it a place in several high profile festivals and with any luck limited, targeted release overseas.
So, what is so great about "Television?"
First and foremost - the script. Secondly, the acting and authentic characters. And most importantly, the philosophical metaphors used in the film that raise questions on religious beliefs and morals.
Written by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Anisul Haque, "Television" intrigued me from beginning to end.
The actors in the film delivered their characters with delight, and all of them spoke in the Noakhali dialect which added versatility to their characters.
Screentime shared by Mosharraf Karim and Chanchal Chowdhury in the film is my favourite. Their characters together created some uplifting moments of brotherly love.
As a supporting character, Mosharraf Karim's Monju stole the spotlight in every scene he was featured in.
As an obedient son of the chairman, Chanchal Chowdhury played his character of Solaiman with authenticity. Tisha's performance as Kohinoor was remarkable.
Veteran actor Shahir Kazi Huda portrayed the chairman's character to perfection. Huda carried the character's dimensions well. Regardless of Amin's faith, he is a caring father and someone who truly cares for his people as the head of the village. He constantly tries to ensure the security and well-being of the villagers.
Cinematographer Golam Maola Nobir devised unusual, bright and colourful camera angles that made the fun moments of the film more enjoyable.
Inclusion of ambient sound in almost every scene gives the feel of rural life-style, creating a realistic mood on screen. Legendary musician Ayub Bachchu was the film's music composer.
Overall, "Television" is one of the greatest movies produced in Bangladesh this decade.
The film can be watched on streaming site Hoichoi.