Ananta Jalil's "Din-The Day": A Bond movie for the family
I first came across Ananta Jalil in 2013. He was going to launch his fifth movie Nisshartho Bhalobasha.
While one group was trolling him, another group was celebrating him as a "messiah". This second group caught my attention. It was composed mostly of young people. These were people who went to watch his movies and made them box office hits. It was refreshing to know that his movies were making young people in urban Bangladesh flock back to cinema halls.
When my students strongly advised me to watch his movies, I did raise my eyebrow. When an individual or group can influence young people, they effectively have the power to influence the future. If not the future, then certainly, the popular trend of their times.
It was around the time I started this column, Echoes, in a newly-launched SHOUT of The Daily Star. As I was pondering what name to choose, I silently entertained the thought of meeting Ananta Jalil, and then watching Nisshartho Bhalobasha.
My column launched with Ananta Jalil on Thursday October 3, 2013. Almost nine years later, Ananta Jalil has captured my attention again. This time on Eid ul Azha. Yesterday, it was the first day of his eighth movie, Din-The Day.
I wanted to see if I could be pleasantly amazed, second time round.
My bitter experience with Nisshartho Bhalobasha, and Most Welcome 2 was having to wait to get a ticket. This time I made sure I got a ticket on the opening day, on July 10, 2022. My wife, a friend, and I went to watch at Star Cineplex, Shimanto Shombhar.
Perhaps because of Eid, it was not a full house. Even then, there was a sizable audience. Quite a few in the audience were not young people, as I had presumed. There were a few families. This was interesting.
From the very start, it was evident that the movie was made in a James Bond 007-esque format. It started with a highly action packed scene. Our Bangla Bond, AJ, enters as the saviour. Then, as the format would suggest, it moves to a new sequence and the movie starts for real.
It was no surprise that an AJ movie would follow the Bond format. His debut movie, Khoj-The Search (2010) was based on Quazi Anwar Hossain's Masud Rana, the original Bangla Bond in print.
When I met AJ in 2013, he told me that he had his eyes on making a good James Bond based movie for a Bangladeshi audience. When I expressed my doubts, he responded, if the James Bond franchise can make them, why can't we? After almost nine years, I'm pleasantly happy to admit, my doubts are now at rest.
Din-The Day is an admirable James Bond based movie. It has its heroes and villains. It has its share of betrayal. It has its advertisements. It's full of speed and good hi-tech action. This is what one expects from a Bond movie. Both Bond and AJ have a "licence to kill".
However, the movie has a distinct Bangladeshi theme. This theme will touch the viewer's heart once they watch. This theme will also appeal to an international audience because the movie was shot in four countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, and Turkey.
Din-The Day goes one step ahead of James Bond. The family can enjoy the movie, too. There's no minimum age label.
A family in the hall sat in front of us. A mum and dad brought their two kids along. Two grandmas also came to watch. The kids were showing their amusement at some funny scenes. They were in awe at scenes where anything fatal could happen to AJ. During the intermission, one of them begged grandma to get them refreshments. This was a new experience for me. When I watched Nisshartho Bhalobasha, and Most Welcome 2, I didn't see kids or grandparents in the hall. The hall was full of young people. This time I saw a few families.
Din-The Day, in all its attempts to present a good James Bond-based movie, has elements of Bollywood. There are songs and dances. This is characteristic of previous Ananta Jalil movies. However, the camera work is a drastic improvement over previous movies. Drone shots, the use of colours, panning and close-ups are a visual treat.
The movie ends with the same theme as all Bond movies - crime doesn't pay in the end. Good always prevails over evil.
Din-The Day, like some previous AJ movies, is a high-budget movie. It's in collaboration with Iran. Whether the movie manages to recover its budget across the countries it will be screened is to be seen.
If it does recover its budget, it will encourage other producers to invest in Bangladeshi movies that can compete in international markets. If more and more families come to watch Din-The Day with their kids, then future movies in Bangladesh will have an audience. Isn't that what the industry wants and needs?
Din-The Day is a movie you can enjoy with your family. It's "Made in Bangladesh", with a distinct Bangladeshi theme. It could leave an impression in your mind that if others can do good movies, so can we. And if it does, that can only be good for Bangladeshi cinemas that are in the making or shall be made in the future.