On April 23, 2020 a family of four faced a devastating crime that many couldn't even imagine. Fatema Begum lived in Sreepur, Gazipur along with her three children, including a mentally challenged 8-year-old boy. Her husband was a Malaysian expatriate who lived there for work purposes. They were a small family brimming with colors of life till the day of darkness struck their home.
Watch the trailer of "Janowar" here
It was the birthday of the middle child, Hawarin. They planned to celebrate sometime after midnight. During the night, an intruder trespassed into their home while everyone was asleep and let a few others in. The bandit group included their trusted rickshaw pullers who used to serve them regularly. They teamed up with other robbers and made plans to rob the place. When they failed to get a satisfying amount of money and valuables from the house, the situation quickly took a turn for the worse and became what was later termed as a multiple raped-homicide case.
The terrorizing true story which shook the nation last year is the basis of Raihan Rafi's latest movie - Janowar. Many of us may have been familiar with the story through news and other media portals, still the film will make you tremble when the monstrous exploits are reenacted on the film.
This film vividly displays the horrors happening in the current world; the horrors which are too heinous to even imagine, the horrors most people even hesitate to speak of. And Raihan Rafi has portrayed the scenario on screen to remind people that these events are occurring around us all the time and it is time to take them seriously.
The storyline would continuously bring out the raw emotions of the viewers at several levels. Though Rafi has changed and added some elements of the original event to shape the film, it still managed to capture the core of the story. Nevertheless, everyone's acting was true to the story; some of the actors deserve special mentions such as Rahul Elina Shammi who played the mother, Rashed Mamun Apu who played the head of the bandits, and of course Ariya Arittra, the child artist who played Hawarin. Their acting made the story seem real.
As a viewer of the film, I would like to comment on some of the things that I believe could have been improved. Firstly, the knives used in the film could be made more realistic as the shapes give us a hint of artificialness. The direction given by Rafi could have been a little better I believe, since I struggled to imagine the structure of the room in between the chaos. But what I loved about it is that there were a lot of long shots taken, which were beautifully accompanied by the actors. The initial dialogues of the victims could be a little versatile, but overall the screenwriting was great.
The approach taken by Rafi to tell the story seemed right with the situation and is innovative among Bangladeshi films. The background score creates quite a suspense which is essential in thrillers like these. I am most impressed with the makeup artists of the movie. The makeup of the wound in the bodies, especially the slit throat, seemed very realistic. These gave the story what it needed to catch the emotions of the viewers.
If we consider this only from the perspective of filmmaking, it is quite heartening to see the growth of Bangladeshi filmmakers who are now able to make these kinds of films. The change of platform given by the OTTs (Subscription based online streaming services) provided our filmmakers the freedom to express themselves better. The movie was a big step as well as a success which can inspire artists of the future generations as well.
In the end, Janowar is not just a film that we can just watch and forget. It is a sign, a sign to take more precautions, to make decisions more consciously, and to be more aware of our surroundings because the horror that this movie showcases can happen to anyone at any time. It is time to act in our best interest and take steps accordingly to remain safe from the Janowars (beasts) as shown in the film.
At the same time, the movie would hopefully be remembered as a milestone for Bengali films in the future and encourage filmmakers as well as other artists to be more open about the social issues that need to be discussed.