Human beings should have the one identity above all, being human; and often death is the window to discover the uniformity of existence.
To the core, Oggatonama -The Unnamed is about upholding this moral message once again, which has been a favorite theme to the filmmakers through out the world for long. Earlier in Bangladeshi cinema, Morshedul Islam dealt with the subject quite philosophically in his much acclaimed short, Chaka (1994). But the actor-turned filmmaker Tauquir Ahmed hardly reminds of Chaka while watching his latest feature Oggatonama with the distinctly different tone of storytelling. He has rather chosen black comedy as his tool to open the Pandora’s Box of poverty, cruelty, greed, lust, and bureaucracy of our present complex society. But at the end of the day, it’s humanity that wins.
One day in a remote village of Bangladesh the news of the death of an expatriate worker comes. The man dies in an accident in Ajman. Police bring the news to the family of the deceased. But the identity of the departed gets embroiled in much confusion as the process of illegal immigration and with a forged passport come up. As the story unfolds, the unidentified, unnamed dead body takes us on a journey to find out what the true identity of a human being should be after all.
With a good screenplay and an ensemble cast of tested actors such as Fazlur Rahman Babu, Shahiduzzaman Selim, Mosharraf Karim, Shatabdi Wadud, Abul Hayat and Shahed Ali, along with Nipun, Oggatonama tells us a story of contemporary Bangladesh.
People struggling against poverty want to go abroad at any cost in the hope of a better life. But their dreams often get shattered with the harsh reality. The film hints at the inhuman working condition and sufferings of the expatriate Bangladeshi laborers. It gives us an insight into the corruption and exploitation that take place capitalizing on both the desperation of the aspirants and the red taping of the bureaucracy. These elements make Oggatonama a significant documentation of the contemporary Bangladeshi society and people.
From his first film ‘Joyjatra’ to the latest one, he takes his characters through some journey. They look for something or are destined to be on the wheel of life. Do they reach somewhere?
Well, in Oggatonama, they certainly do. With the backdrop of social realism and contemporary issues, Tauquir delivers a straight statement on the human conscience-cum-value system at the end of the film.
And here we pause to think whether the movie reached its potential to the fullest. The answer lies not only in the director’s philosophical approach but also in the film’s dialogues, acting and narrative style.
To be precise, in Oggatonama old school filmmaking meets the new.
In mood, tonality and filming style Oggatonama is consciously a new age indie film that tries to catch up the fresh attitude of telling a story without carrying out the preconceived baggage of serious cinema. Rather it unfolds its story with light humour and sarcasm while dealing with serious issues like life, death, existence, and humanity.
Cinematography and editing also tried to match the style, though it sometimes feels the cinematography could have been better. Being technically sound is an indisputable reality for good cinema these days. But at the same time one should keep in mind the grim reality of making good films in Bangladesh with so many obstacles from getting a producer and moderately fitting budget to get it released properly, especially the indie ones.
The main cast but Nipun in Oggatonama come from the theatre background. Tauquir himself has a background in theatre as well. He mostly relies on method acting which sometimes risks the spontaneity in the roles being played. Here Tauquir remains old school unabashedly. However, actors such as Fazlur Rahman Babu and Shahiduzzaman Selim manage to deliver required emotions to certain crucial scenes with fine performances.
The dialogues, complementing the acting, with almost always complete sentences also sometimes miss the beauty of unreciprocated, incomplete or unworthy casual conversation style.
The final speech of Asir’s father (Fazlur Rahman Babu) could have been avoided as well, as it, to some extent, sounds melodramatic and the layer of the subtle pathos that is flowing beneath is hampered. The director seems likely to preach his film’s core concept the loudest here.
The sequences at the secretariat where the men try to find out where the coffin should be placed take short cuts. Not a single shot inside the office – makes this point of the film lack authenticity. Also make-up and background score could have been better.
To be precise, both in dialogues and acting Oggatonama sometimes misses the ‘precision.’
Shot mostly in real locations ( e.g. remote parts of Bangladesh, highways, and streets of Dhaka), Oggatonama-The Unnamed achieves the credibility it requires. The locations, as well as the people, look real. The emotion touches the audience. And above all the story manages to carry out its authenticity throughout the journey.
With a gripping storyline simultaneously depicting important socio-political issues of contemporary ‘real’ Bangladesh and carrying a universal appeal, Oggatonama testifies to the remarkable growth of Tauquir Ahmed as a filmmaker. It can be easily said that Oggatonama -The Unnamed is the best directorial endeavor of Tauquir so far. It also is one of the best of recent Bangladeshi cinema that can represent the country globally.
Despite the weaknesses, Oggatonama, with its strong content, is a ‘contemporary Bangladeshi film’ in a true sense that has the promise and enthusiasm to fly high. The downsides are nothing but the wax in the wings to make it delicate.
Oggatonama – The Unnamed (2016)
Production. Impress Tele Films
Producer. Faridur Reza Sagar
Director-screenwriter. Tauquir Ahmed
Cast. Fazlur Rahman Babu, Shahiduzzaman Selim, Mosharraf Karim, Abul Hayat, Nipun Akhter, Shatabdi Wadud, Shahed Ali
Executive producer. Ebne Hasan Khan
Director of photography. Enamul Haque Sohel
Production designer. Kazi Rakib
Editor. Amit Debnath
Music. Pinto Ghosh
World sales. Impress Tele Films
Duration. 92 minutes