The Dhaka International Film Festival, which begins on January 12, will showcase an Indian work as part of its 23-strong Asian competition. From Kerala, the Mammootty-starrer, called Pathemari (Dhow), comes from Salim Ahamed – who earlier gave us Adaminte Makan Abu (Abu, Son of Adam).
Much like Adaminte Makan Abu that talks about an old perfume seller in Kerala and his wife, whose dream to go on Haj, remains unfulfilled, Ahamed’s latest outing paints the sorrow and suffering of a man who makes the Gulf his home in the early years of the region’s boom. An illegal immigrant, Mammootty’s Narayanan leads a lonely and tortured existence so that his family is happy. Ahamed highlights how the family’s avarice and greed disappoint and disillusion the breadwinner.
Ahamed – who has this penchant for realistic but overly depressing subjects -- once acted on stage, mimicked Kamal Haasan and dreamt of making movies. But cinema played hard to get, and he ended up as a travel consultant, sending people to exotic places, on pilgrimages and for rushed business meetings. That is what he did for five years, but in those apparently dreary hours of coping with visa deadlines, missed flights (of others) and presumably the temper tantrums of his clients, Ahamed watched people as they passed by his desk, making mental notes of the more interesting ones.
Finally, he got that chance to make that film he had long yearned to. Ten years to be precise it took him to pick up the megaphone and call for lights, sound and action. The hurdles he faced seemed almost insurmountable at one point of time. His hero was 75, and his heroine 65, not attractive in the conventional sense. Not only did Ahamed have to find producers, but also men who would understand the subject. But, when the movie emerged from the cans, it created a buzz all right by winning four national and four Kerala State awards in 2011.
There are several Indian films in the festival’s other sections. One of them is Gajendra Ahire’s The Silence, a powerful drama about a young girl who witnesses a rape on a suburban train and how that helps her fight her own demons from the past.
Nava Kumar Nath’s The Whirlpool looks at the plight of a cart-puller – who driven by unrealistic ambition, invests his hard-earned savings in a passenger car and realises his folly by learning a hard lesson.
Ark Ganguly’s Khoj is a thriller with a cop on the trail of a missing woman whom her neighbours contend was being brutalised by her doctor husband.
Follow @htshowbiz for more