Life In Other Words –  a triumph over adversity

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by  Namira Hossain

 

We all face our daily struggles in our own ways – sometimes by escaping in something we love, like a game of cricket or by spending quality time over a meal with loved ones. This is what Abrar Athar so brilliantly encapsulates in his short film, Life In Other Words. If you like fast paced movies with witty one liners’ and the complexities of different characters, then grab your popcorn and check out the debut film of the young Bangladeshi director.

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The movie revolves around a family of humble means living in Dhaka. The fifth grader, Ronny, played by Mohammad Hridoy Hossain is a cricket fanatic who has just failed his school exams. Ronnie’s sister Renu, played by Aanon Siddiqua, is a young woman who is struggling to make ends meet at her company. Their father Mr. Kabir, played by Masum Bashar, is a disgruntled middle aged man who blames his health problems and his son’s failure in school on cricket (despite being a fanatic himself). His wife (and Ronny’s mother), played by Ferdousi Ahmed, seems to be a typical housewife who is the rock that her family depends on without much fuss or fanfare.

In the span of 15 minutes, Athar expresses a range of human emotions, taking us through highs and lows using somewhat choppy cinematography, showing the gritty parts of the city and the hustle and bustle of traffic in sync with a quirky selection of his soundtrack.

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Athar says, ‘This movie is all about certain social messages. Whether obvious or not, these are things I have touched on throughout the film’. Having grown up in Dhaka, he has had similar experiences himself. ‘The pressure in our education system is just ridiculous,’ he iterates. Often students are made to feel like it is a matter of life or death if they do not pass an exam, and Bangladeshi parents particularly feel a social pressure to have their children succeed.

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The pressure on women is also one that is prevalent and the trials of the female characters in this movie depict such experiences. Renu works a deadbeat job at a company full of nepotism. Every day, she is filled with rage at all the lecherous men who feel her up on public transport while she has wild fantasies about beating them violently. In fact, one of the best scenes is where Renu attacks a pervert on the bus in full on Kill Bill style, but it turns out to be only a fantasy.

Mrs. Kabir is probably the character with the least number of words on camera and in fact, seems to be lurking in the shadows throughout the movie. Yet, it is her efforts that brings the family together as she cooks a delicious meal with very limited resources and is finally lauded by them for all that she does. Mr. Kabir, who is the antagonist of the film, has his own traumatic backstory. Once a well-loved child who was suddenly pushed aside with the arrival of new siblings, he slowly let the drudgeries of life catch up to him.

 

_MG_9892 - CopyIn the end, it is a thrilling game of cricket that brings the family together and offers them a shimmer of hope that things can change in a matter of seconds. ‘Hopefully, this is only a precursor to my next movie which will be two hours long,’ says Athar. The film is now doing the rounds at the international film festivals and has been shown in Dhaka at a private screening on October 21 at Gulshan Club. It will be available for viewing online soon.

 

 

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