Oggatonama: Saga of nameless faces
The social realities of expatriate workers have been an unexplored terrain in the Bangladeshi film and television scene, until now. “Oggatonama” (“The Unnamed”), Tauquir Ahmed's fourth directorial venture is aptly titled, for the nameless faces that make their journey by the millions overseas represent the marginalised, both at home and abroad. The film is a rollercoaster ride of emotions as the narrative takes the viewers down the dark, dismal course of corrupt immigration procedures, lost identities that lead to insignificant deaths and mourning. A commanding cast of Fazlur Rahman Babu, Shahiduzzaman Selim, Mosharraf Karim, Shatabdi Wadud, Nipun and Shahed Ali Sujon, does great justice in making it a striking story.
The movie opens with a young boy in a village running with a hand-made plane propeller, fueled by innocent dreams of splendour. Beauty (played by Nipun) is a single mother who struggles to make ends meet and is the subject of prejudice due to her gendered position in society. Her escapist dreams of working abroad parallels the innocent visions of the young boy, unaware of the grim realities of a migration process enabled through nefarious means such as forged passports and bribes. Asir's (represented in the film with just a name and no actors) death and the search for his body becomes a catalyst in unmasking the sinister truths, and raises thought-provoking questions at the existential reality of passports and paper IDs preceding our identities. Additionally, the film offers some comic relief as well: Farhad, a police officer played by Mosharraf Karim delivers instances of hilarity as he struggles to make sense of what is happening around him, as well as his efforts to overpower Ramzan (Shahiduzzaman Selim) in his affair with Nipun. This is reminiscent of the clowning scenes within Shakespearean tragedies to offer an emotional vacation from the serious nature of the narrative.
The film's strongest point is the novel plot, as well as the powerful acting performances delivered by Shahiduzzaman Selim's role as a corrupt manpower agent, and Fazlur Rahman Babu's convincing execution of a mourning father. However, the film does not offer a solution in its exploration of a dilemma that is close to home for many of the viewers. It ends on a defeating note as Nipun resigns to a life of hardship and injustice and gives up her dreams of traveling, and comes full circle as the film ends with Asir's father chasing his grandson who plays in a make-believe world of traveling abroad, like his father. It accurately depicts the perpetuating cycle of the expats' dreams of travel as well as the procedures many undertake in making them a reality.