Dhaka Attack: Just go and see the film!

by Towheed Feroze

Dhaka AttackMany a times I have seen movie critics say that the inclination for mindless film plots does not rest with the actors. They do what the directors tell them to do. In the end, when the editing of a movie leaves countless loose ends and incongruities, the rating of the film falters.

Hence, I have written countless times that first take a few shots of Vodka, leave the common sense at home and then go and watch a Bengali movie. Better still, stay home and download something.
For Dhaka Attack, my advice: please go and watch it! Simply because, sitting through the entire flick, I hardly found two major flaws. In fact, the only minor fault is that the weapons used by militants were shoddily made and, hardly resembled any real life gun.
But overlook that and we have a film featuring a stellar cast, taut acting, plausible dialogue, strategically placed item numbers and a non-formulaic plot which will leave you totally thrilled.
At last a movie which can stand to be a testament of the advancement in film production in Bangladesh.
Unfortunately, we do not get too many of these every year, but one is enough to show that where there is the desire to use rational thought in film-making, results can be truly sensational. And it does not have to be a movie with unnecessary explicit dances and gratuitous suggestive lines.

Using militancy as the backdrop
For starters, the movie brings a completely new premise in local cinema, which of course has a profound resonance to real life happenings in contemporary Bangladesh. Militancy, radical thinking, extremism – whichever way one wants to put it, Bangladesh is now at the heart of a fight against all forms of hardline ideology.
Dhaka Attack uses this theme as the premise. And, in doing so, the movie refrains from following the formulaic path. Instead of giving us the typical (read incredulous) larger than life villain who has acolytes surrounding him wherever he goes, we get the much more credible lone wolf baddie – the man who blends in with the others, the educated but deeply disturbed soul who lashes out at the world due to failings in his/her own life.
This strikes a chord with several social attacks all over the world recently where the mastermind was a recluse, suffering from some form of mental affliction.
Dhaka Attack has brought the template for a new kind of celluloid antagonist who lurks within all of us, ready to strike when we are unsuspecting and vulnerable.

Roping in the Metropolitan Police
Forget extras wearing defective police uniforms and carrying perfunctorily made wooden weapons. This time, it’s the real police force which is acting with all its resources, giving glimpse of their state of the art equipment in tackling modern day crimes of terror.
And visually, this makes the movie more alluring because, from guns to uniforms, to surveillance rooms to vehicles – accoutrements at the disposal of Dhaka Metropolitan Police are right before us, intertwined perfectly to the plot, making it a riveting celluloid extravaganza.
Let me just say: you have only seen such action sequences in Hollywood productions! By the way, all the English lines used by the SWAT and the police are almost perfect – something which had been missing from our films for a long time.
Apart from the pivotal roles played by top actors, the other unwritten hero is actually Dhaka Met Police.
All over the film, the underlying message seems to be: join the police for respect, a life of adventure and glamour.
I am certain many young men, after watching this, will feel a desire to go for the civil service exam and put police at the top of their service preference.

A stellar cast and a crisp plot make the winner
When respectable names from TV and film are united, the result has to be spectacular. On one side we have Afzal and Alamgir, playing the roles of senior officers and then there is Arefin Shuvo, giving life to a suave young ASP of police’s bomb disposal squad.
We go back to comments I made at the beginning: actors are never at fault, it depends on the director to bring out the best from a hero/villain/heroine. Shuvo does not sway his hips or dance to a silly tune every twenty minutes, neither does he deliver schmaltzy dialogue – he is a tough policeman and the only aspect which is a little over the top is his macho body builder like presence. But then, this is a commercial film too: we do not expect a pot-bellied, ingratiating and cigarette smoking cop.
Shuvo and others have done well; Mahiya Mahi plays the ever inquisitive reporter, willing to go to any length to get that breakthrough in a puzzling crime plot.
A little romance is thrown in, again for cinematic frisson.
Star studded sky, a romantic dance shot in breath-taking locations and a little mischief.
The touching human factor is added when the wife of another officer is shown during last stages of pregnancy with her going into labour during a climactic sequence at the end.
Not once is there any obscene dialogue or vulgarity or the sado masochistic attack on a lone woman by sex starved gangsters.
This is a refreshing change because not all bad guys have sky rocketing libidos!

Delving into sinister urban sub-culture
So far, no film touched the post-midnight urban sub culture of underground road-racing in Dhaka which was, until recently, a rage among a lot of young men with a penchant for speed and something a little on the edge of legality.
This culture, with links to the rising social status of many urbanites, started with innocuous aspirations at first, but later, the midnight racing scene became a platform for illegal drug trading and other deviant activities.
Dhaka Attack’s plot develops from such an underground race. Again, this is one thrill factor never seen in local movies and, once more, we applaud the professional manner in which this was shot and edited.
An idea! How about someone making a fast and furious movie with Dhaka streets as the backdrop? Surely, with some other thrilling items thrown in, this will turn out to be a winner.

The serious underlying message

This is a pulsating yarn, no doubt, presented to perfection. It’s no surprise that everyone is talking about the film and, chances are high that by the end of the month, Dhaka Attack will have secured a spot among the five most successful movies made in the last ten years.
This will possibly be the unassailable contender for the upcoming Best Film Award for 2017.
Well, all’s good but what about the underlying message, which I feel has nothing to do with films at all.
The message is: this is what the police has got – latest technology, trained professionals and the desire to counter any effort to undermine social harmony; be careful before you choose that path to radicalism or militancy and challenge the law.

The verdict
From a cinematic angle: this is a cliff-hanger, made with dedication and so much care that you can’t but watch it till the end. No absurdities at all, the item number does not involve any actor, instead it’s presented as a dance show being enjoyed by a stolen car dealer. Such private dance soirees are nothing uncommon in Dhaka or in major cities. From a social observer’s angle: with all the action, drama plus nerve racking bomb disposing moments, the aim is to make people aware that we now live in a society where fanatics determined to destroy our lives are not part of fiction anymore.
I would ask you, request you to make time to watch this film! At least your idea of local film making will change.

comments: towheedf@yahoo.co.uk