Language effects how we think, what we perceive. A pleasant thing to an Arab may not seem logical to a Bengali speaking person. A German book’s meaning may not be fully conveyed if translated into English. What language we speak influences our thoughts, perception, even feelings.
The first noticeable thing about this film is Irrfan Khan’s accent- obviously the Bengali was good, even the English accent was that of a Bengali’s. I think setting the character as a Bengali was a critical issue in portraying the most famous literary in modern Bengali.
Yes, there is no way to deny that it is based on the personal life of Humayun Ahmed! Except for a few minor changes, it’s the same story- a famous artist leaving wife and children for loving his daughter’s friend. The thing I liked the most is that the film didn’t vilify anyone, just focused on the dilemma of the character for having to choose one over the other.
Showing a son detached from father, western cinemas would have focused more on the pain of growing without a father. This was overshadowed by the ‘what would people say’ sentiment here, which may be common throughout Asia. In western films, normally the main stories are around two intimate people, as ‘I’ means me and the significant other. But in Bangladesh, ‘I’ means my parents, siblings, children, the mean neighbor, school friends of children, caretaker, guard, driver – everyone around! Javed’s (Irrfan Khan) decision affects everyone attached to him, not just him and his significant other.
Another issue is perspective. Foreign films (European, American, East-Asian) have a significant role for colors in creating moods. Like color dynamic in a scene with natural landscape, or neon glares in a night city scene. But Dhaka is always covered in joyless yellow sunlight, may be except for the rainy days. Many complain that the movie seem like a telefilm (TV Movie). But I think the Bengali narrative demanded the lifeless coloring through the whole movie (except the first and the last scene).
And the shots from outside the window, through the gate, even sometimes not showing characters talking inside a room – indicate perspectives of people eavesdropping, peaking through, unlike the usual omniscient perspective in films. Main characters never have a personal space, which may be relatable to a lot in Asia. Everything Javed does, everyone comes to know it. Javed’s extra marital affair is exposed to his caretaker even before his wife!
The only unsatisfactory thing was the actors’ ages – Irrfan Khan didn’t seem in anyway 50 (although he really is!), the first wife seemed way older than him, the daughter and her friend seemed more close to his age. The movie didn’t seem like a movie, it seemed more like a telefilm (TV Movie), and by no means it tried to be a colorful foreign film. The storytelling demands it.