Amitabh Reza's directorial debut “Aynabaji” has been at the epicenter of the Bangladeshi showbiz in the first week of its release, with a torrential flow of people rushing to the cinema halls. Backed by strong endorsement from the film and media fraternity, it has generated largely positive reviews among the audience as well. So what's the big deal about “Aynabaji”?
“Aynabaji” is essentially the story of Sharafat Karim Ayna (played by Chanchal Chowdhury), a human chameleon serving as body doubles for convicted criminals, operating in the dark underbelly of Dhaka's criminal and judiciary system. His mystery is being chased by an inquisitive, stubborn crime reporter Saber (Partha Barua), while Hridy (Masuma Rahman Nabila), a girl-next-door develops a connection with Ayna. But like every cocky-confident 'professional', Ayna gets in too deep and finds himself not having the control over proceedings he is so used to. Will he be able to pull out one final trick out of his bag?
There is plenty to praise about the film. The story is an excellent, gripping thriller with ample twists and surprises, paced rather well and cinematographically impeccable. Rashed Zaman portrays Old Dhaka in all its romanticism, and his camerawork constantly breathes life into the narrative. Chanchal Chowdhury delivers an unforgettable performance as he effortlessly sails through multiple characters folded in one complex, nuanced role. Partha Barua plays a strong second fiddle, and there are no weak links in the supporting cast of Nabila, Gousul Alam Shaon, Lutfar Rahman George and Bridaban Das, among others. The romantic dynamics of Nabila and Chanchal are subtle yet believable, the dialogues and the screenplay (by Anam Biswas) are punchy and entertaining, and the overall excellent packaging of the film justifies the commercial success it is enjoying.
But is it flawless? Not by far. There are minor plot holes missed opportunities, albeit being far overweighed by the positives. The characters of Hridy, her father and Gousul (played by Shaon, who also wrote the film) are not established nearly as well as Ayna and Saber's. The prison sequences (especially the early ones) are heavily airbrushed, and Amitabh misses the chance to bring some of the potential emotionally-intense sequences to boil, most remarkably during a conjugal visit between Ayna and Hridy. The music, which promised so much leading up to the film, disappoints a little bit; Shaan's version of “Alu Peyajer Kabbo” is replaced by an Arnob version, and Habib-Annesha's “Dhire Dhire Jaw Na Somoy”, arguably the least impressive of the songs, is used most prominently. And lastly, the ending of the film remains a little undercooked, especially for the anticipation and suspense it builds up.
In a nutshell, “Aynabaji” is a good movie; a really good one. But it is not a great movie, and it does not try to achieve that either. A good movie aims to entertain the audience and be worth the ticket money, maybe even for a second trip to the cinemas, and “Aynabaji” does that to perfection. A great movie is one that stays with the audience and makes them think, question and reflect on it long after they have left the halls, and this film does not do that. And that's fine, as long as the makers and the audience both accept it for what it is.