Rehana Maryam Noor
In keeping up with some international content, I decided to handpick a film closer to home this time. And I finished watching the Bangladeshi film Rehana Maryam Noor. This was the first Bangladeshi film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and also Bangladesh’s official entry to the Academy Awards this year where it unfortunately did not make it to the top 15. However, this is my first experience with a Bangladeshi film and naturally I was curious with how it would turn out to be. Besides the synopsis, I went in blind in the film not knowing what to expect, is Rehana Maryam Noor worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Rehana Maryam Noor also retitled Rehana for the international market, follows the story of a 37 year old teacher who is struggling to manage her job and her daughter when one day she witnesses an unexpected incident at her college. The story is hard-hitting and quite relevant. It was only a couple of years back when the #MeToo campaign was launched where so many victims did come out in the open against perpetrators from the past. The results were shocking, it seemed like every woman/girl had a story to tell about being sexually assaulted. And that is the sad reality. Till men are taught from a very young age this will continue. So a word for the parents, please teach your boys to behave and respect girls/women. The screenplay here will definitely make you uncomfortable. There is a bit of an initial buildup with two parallel tracks being unfold. The constantly shaky frame just adds to the tension of the scene and it also gives a glimpse into the mind of the protagonist. Soon the event occurs although it is just implied and not actually shown. But the conflict here is real. Some of the issues which women generally face even after reporting the act is also excellently portrayed here.
The parallel track here is written meticulously and with a lot of purpose. It gives the audience a comparison between two age groups. The twists and turns are subtle yet very engaging and interesting. After a point it seems that the protagonist is running into dead ends till the astoundingly haunting final act which hits you exactly where it hurts the most. The end is shocking yet in a way acts as a redemption although I had slightly mixed feelings as I may have expected a retaliation or perhaps a happy ending. But the ending holds a special place in my heart – if it made me uncomfortable then I am responsible for it, we all are and that is the sad reality. Life is not a bed of roses and the end acts as a timely reminder in this brilliantly written screenplay.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are hard-hitting although conversational and they leave you with the desired impact. The BGM is almost non existential that adds to the claustrophobia of many scenes. The ticking timer towards the dying minutes of the film act like a ticking time bomb and definitely raises the tension. The shaky camerawork is brilliant and one of my favourite aspects of the film. The blue colour tone contributes to the depth of the drama. Director Abdullah Mohammed Saad has done a phenomenal job here. Firstly, this is a film which he can truly be proud of with the way he is able to tell the story. The story is relevant and hits you hard, really hard and much of it can be attributed to the direction which is exceptional.
The performances are excellent. Yasir Al Haq as Rony has his moments to shine. Saberi Alam as Madam Principal is first rate. Farzana Bithi as Ayesha is brilliant in a cameo where she breaks down so brilliantly. Zopari Lue as Mimi is good. Afia Tabassum as Annie is brilliant and she delivers a gut wrenching performance. Kazi Sami Hussain as Arefan has a cool and calm demeanor to him which definitely did get to me and made me angry. He was quite good here. Afia Jahin Jaima as Emu the little kid is exceptional especially in the gut wrenching final act that did break my heart if I were to look at it from her point of view. Azmeri Haque Badhon as Rehana is the soul of the film. A highly conflicted character with nerves of steel, she is intimidating yet vulnerable at the same time. She delivers a towering performance that stays with you long after the film is over.
Rehana Maryam Noor is a hard hitting and relevant film that hits you exactly where it hurts the most in the most heartbreaking manner. Available on Youtube and Highly Recommended.