Social media platforms have been flooded with criticisms after the release of Netflix's recent movie "Extraction" set in Bangladesh. The movie showed distorted images of Bangladesh, Bengali language, and the capital city Dhaka. In a recent report, the daily Prothom Alo mentioned that the "hype" of Bangladeshi movie-lovers about this film skyrocketed and people have been disheartened after watching this film. I strongly believe that the Bangladesh government should seek explanations and take legal action about the misrepresentation of Bangladesh and especially the distortion of Bengali language in said film.
It was made with a cost of more than 550 crore taka and this "exotic" movie will get the attention of the movie-lovers for various reasons around the world. Chris Hemsworth of "Thor" and "Avengers" fame plays the lead role in this film. The side-role was played by David Harvor who is known for his character as the police chief in recent Netflix blockbuster series "Stranger Things". Bangladeshi movie enthusiasts were excited about this film because it is the first Hollywood movie that was set in Bangladesh, more specifically the capital Dhaka.
Despite having Dhaka as the backdrop, "Extraction" is adapted from the Spanish novel "Ciudad" (city). That's why the foundation of the storyline was shaky from the very beginning. The storyline does not match the social reality of Bangladesh. As with Hollywood action thrillers, we do not expect that the story of this movie would be completely similar to a real-life scenario. However, it is also expected that the audience would not see a fiction this outrageous about a country or culture. For example, the movie shows children working for a gang in Dhaka, roaming around with AK-47 rifles. This reminds us of the Netflix movie "Beast of the Nation" -- based on child soldiers in war-torn African countries. On the other hand, this type of misrepresentation also depicts the stereotyped images of "Global South" by Hollywood.
Media scholars also found that American action movies made with the backdrop of foreign countries typically show the American actors as heroes and powerful by showcasing foreigners as villains. In a recent report published in Prothom Alo, prominent cultural personality Tariq Anam Khan said very few shots of this movie were filmed in Dhaka. Basically, the audience got an unfamiliar Dhaka as the film was mostly shot in Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
The ugliest part of this movie is the usage of strange "Bangla" with a peculiar accent. This type of Bangla is unfamiliar to Bangladeshis. It seems they invented a new type of Bangla combining the languages of the Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal.
Now, my question is: did they not take permission from the concerned authority or government for filming this movie in Bangladesh? I think the government should seek an explanation to the people who gave permission to film this movie in Bangladesh. We want the Bangladesh government to ask Netflix to apologise for the distortion of the language of Bangladeshi people. As many people sacrificed their lives to get the right to speak Bangla in 1952, I think any distortion of our beloved language is a grave offence. By doing so, we can at least make sure that any foreign filmmaker will be cautious regarding the accurate representation of the culture and society of Bangladesh while making movies set here.
Dr Mohammad Delwar Hossain is an Assistant Professor of digital journalism in the Department of Communication at the University of South Alabama.