Meet Mithu, the garden variety struggling youngster in desperation to find a job as pressure builds on him as the only provider for his lower-middle class family living 'on the other side of the river' of town. Fate hands him the strings to play puppeteer with someone's life; someone much bigger than him -- and the balance of the worlds begins to shift: at least their own ones, and of those around them.
In his latest release, “Pipra Bidya”, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki picks a common man and attempts to tell an extraordinary story through him. With a small cast and a complex narrative, he delivers an ample plateful for the serious film connoisseur, but probably not for the average cinema-goer. As the ticket checker at Balaka Cineworld told this correspondent “I didn't love it. It's so much like a 'natok' (TV drama).” While Farooki has brought out the fine brushes to paint the visual picture, it could somewhat alienate him from those who come to the cinemas just to be entertained.
Without revealing the plot line, “Pipra Bidya” is the story of internal conflicts and a man's conscious alienation from reality. Various shades of the same personality are another fertile ground Farooki has treaded smartly, in a mature, assured manner.
In terms of cinematography, there is a bunch of superb elements. The cinematography – particularly the metaphorical visual in the bedroom-scene involving Mithu and Rima (played by Sheena Chohan) and most stunningly in the ant-crawling-through the mouth shot, are fantastic. Most of the film is shot indoors and inside vehicles, but the use of cityscape is clever in the boat journey to Keraniganj or the road trips through Hatirjheel, and a bit of Cox's Bazar is also thrown in to spruce up the backdrop. Camerawork is modern and interesting, helping the film look very 'international'. The cast, in general, also holds its own, in spite of some inconsistency. Noor Imran Mithu, who plays the character in his own name, delivers a complex character with astonishing ease.
Sheena Chohan is a little wobbly in the opening sequences, but grows into the role and by the end, is almost flawless. The other central roles are also smooth, but some of the stock characters (for instance, the policemen) are not up to the mark, which leaves just that small bit of discomfort for the viewer, especially because the making otherwise is of such high standards.
The film has bits and pieces of a lot of good things -- a bit of dry humour, a lot of psychological-thriller elements, a current timeline and very good music (by Chirkutt) to bring the story close to the audience, but it's not handed to them on a silver platter. The audience must meet the story halfway, and it may take a while for the cinematic audience to grow that far, but for that to happen, what is needed most are films like this.