‘Punormilone’ bucks all trends and showcases riveting family drama
Action-packed, fantastical, nail-biting: Mizanur Rahman Aryan's "Punormilone" is none of those things. In spite of that, or perhaps because of that, the family drama succeeds in subverting audience expectations amidst OTT's "Thriller Fatigue", with a powerful reminder of the age-old phrase la familia es todo (Family is all).
The opening, accompanied by a picturesque drone shot and an adroit flute melody, follows Antu (Siam Ahmed) on his favourite bike to what is the primary setting in the web film – his ancestral home in Sylhet.
The premise is delicately poised around the ever-jovial Antu and his cousin Riad (Shashwta Dutta), when the latter comes to Bangladesh from abroad to marry Trina (Tasnia Farin).
The story is told within two timelines: the years 2019 and 2023, and starts in medias res, where the matriarch of the family, Antu's grandmother, looks at the photo album of a formerly loving and united family, reminiscing the events that set-in motion its distressful breakup. As she faints soon after, Antu rushes in to the hospital and receives a lukewarm welcome because he is perceived to have 'broken up' the family because of his affair, and later marriage, to Riad's wife, Trina.
If the former sounds convoluted to you, it absolutely is, and rightfully so. Family in itself is a more complex phenomenon than that we give it credit for, which the director craftily portrays in a tense scene between the fathers of Riad and Noyon (Noor Imran Mithu) early on.
As the story moves forward and is given the space to breathe, Siam and Farin's chemistry shines through. However, it is intentional the lack of chemistry between Farin and Shashwta that is incredibly understated – Riad's stoic demeanour plays a yang to Antu's carefree yin. While Siam is a tested actor and bona fide film star, he brings forth an earthly charm in Antu that is far removed from most roles that he has played. Shashwta was given a difficult job to portray the slightly awkward Riad, but he pulls it of quite convincingly.
Tasnia Farin's maturity in showcasing Trina's dichotomy between the two male leads is exceptional. In some takes, her eyes do the acting for her – conflicted, confused, sad.
However, what seperates Punormilone from most other OTT projects is the attention to detail on the proverbial 'side' character. In truth, the entire cast assembles as one believable family – whether it be Noor Imran Mithu's simple yet amicable goofiness or Tajnuva Jabin's calming influence on the proceedings.
Nawba Tahia, Dipta Dey, Manas Bandyopadhyay, Golam Farida Chhonda, Shoab Monir, Hamidur Rahman, Shampa Khan Jannatul Ferdaus Kajol, Mala Bhattacharjee all make a charming and memorable cast. Jahid Nirob does a fantastic job with the music as well.
The location, costume design and cinematography further brought the web film to life.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the few things that stuck out like a sore thumb – some dialogues were a bit weak in places, and could have clearly used some rework. The ending, while extremely tragic, begs the question of if it was only added for shock value.
In the post-credits, we are given a hint of relief – no matter what, life moves on, and whatever tragedy one has to face immediately becomes a little bit easier with the help of family.
Although Mizanur Rahman Aryan obviously deserves props for his direction, story and screenplay, the biggest win that he will score is for his vision. After exploring love and friendship in "Networker Baire", he has been blissfully ignorant of all current trends to make a riveting family drama, one that can be watched with one's entire family. Actually, it is recommended that you do, to get the most out of "Punormilone".
The author is Entertainment Editor at The Daily Star.