Live from Dhaka: Nihilistic tale of a capital city
Live from Dhaka (2019) having a runtime of one and a half hours is entirely black and white with constant grainy effects giving out a very bleak and somber vibe. I can't think of a more appropriate title for the film than its actual name itself. It is really about events live from Dhaka, a perfect representation of randomness and desolation of the streets in Dhaka and the disappointment of a guy named Sazzad. The pressure of the city is like a raw nerve that is making him ill. He shouts with agitation- "I'm not a prophet; I'm just an ordinary man! I have a limit to endure!" Therefore, he discreetly plans an escape from this 'hell of a city' of this third world country.
Director Abdullah Mohammad Saad who studied Didactics at the University of Dhaka before switching to filmmaking illustrates the urban life of Dhaka, with Tuhin Tamijul's cinematography highlighting its frustrations. Like all atmospheric indie films, also this has a few characters, but there are a lot of touchy montages. In his direction, there are often choices to "follow" Sazzad from behind, while he is driving.
The portrayal of the storytelling is so raw. It shows not only the torture of the character used in a strongly contrasted manner and very effectual in restoring epidermal perceptions like dust, smog, and smoke, but also style capable of pushing to feel that we are facing a horror film. The context is our moves of mass corruption in which everyone tries to exploit others and family ties disintegrate lies or omission triumphs, nobody trusts anyone.
This fast paced story revolves around Sazzad who limps slightly while walking. His disability prevents him from finding any work, while the loan sharks circle him. This character's biggest trait is that he manages to portray a plethora of feelings and psychological statuses, so realistically, which randomly succeed each other and include obstinacy, anger, fear, concern, despair, and exhaustion. His only possession in life is an old car and his relationship with his girlfriend Rehana. But he is pathologically jealous of her to the point that he is suspicious of every phone call she receives. His brother, Michael, who is staying with him, is a drug addict, who occasionally has fits of rage when he cannot manage his dose, with his fits of rage being the highlights of his performance.
The sound effects played a great role to create the atmosphere of the movie. Director showcased that it's enough to represent Dhaka by producing adhan sound; there is no need to show mosques scenes or something extraordinary efforts. Moreover, the news bloopers on TV and radio, the car horn, the train whistle, the mob violence always telling us that there is no life in this city, this city is no fairy tale!
Director used a very interesting editing technique, since the setting changed almost constantly, with each scene being quite brief but precise, much like vignettes. In that fashion, he kept the pace at a relatively fast speed, which seems to suit the story perfectly.
The ending of the film is a bit confusing as the director wanted to make it perplexing. By the end of the film, you start to feel for the protagonist but also realize how he is not so different from everyone else. In my point of view, the last scene shows a situation whereby Sazzad has to decide between morality and self preservation. The director left the meaning of the last shot to the audience's imagination.
Finally, I would like to mention that the budget for this fiction film was only 10000 USD! This is the best example of how to make a good movie with a low budget. Thus this cinema has left a profound mark on film enthusiasts and budding filmmakers, possibly by making a declaration that matters of the soul don't necessitate hefty budget.
Writer is an independent
filmmaker and film jury