R E V I E W – M O V I E
Cinematic Originals Janowar directed by Raihan Rafi and produced by Turn was released on the OTT platform on 14 January. The film was influenced by a real event that occurred in Gazipur in the mentioned time-frame that shook the entire country. Raihan Rafi’s previous work includes Poramon, and my personal favourite Dahan. This ingenious filmmaker has always tried to portray pressing social issues and with rape culture at large in our society, it was about time he had focused on this issue in his script.
Janowar presents two facts of our country’s brutal reality to the audience. First, the perpetrators of horrific crimes are usually our familiar faces, and second, people can fall victim to heinous crimes anytime, anywhere.
This web film of 90 minutes started with the arrival of the investigating police officer (Taskeen Rahman) at the crime scene. He was informed that there were three victims including a child (played by Rahul Elina Shammi, Moonmoon Ahmed, and Ariya Arittra), however, the nature of the crime was not revealed. Later, he entered the exact spot of the crime all alone and started inspecting the destruction caused by the culprits.
Eventually, he moved from room to room and started questioning the victims to describe the details of the incident. This had been the moment when I started questioning the validity of the screenplay, “If it is indeed a crime-scene of rape of a woman and children (as it was implied in the trailer and in the surrounding scenes), shouldn’t he be accompanied by a female police officer? Judging from the severity of the injuries of the victims, shouldn’t they be hospitalised first before questioning?”
It took me a while to realise that the victims suffered from fatal injuries, in fact, all of them were already dead. The director utilised the scenes wherein the victims gave their statements to narrate the story, not precisely focusing on how the police conducted the investigation, unlike conventional films. Rather, this unique storytelling focused entirely on the crime itself and that’s what set this film apart.
Rape and murder, women and children victims, blood and gore – all these components aren’t rare in our film culture. As a matter of fact, “the villain is on the verge of raping the heroine and the hero magically appears to save the ‘dignity’ of her” — is a popular narrative in Dhakaiya films. Another popular narrative is either a woman or child falls victim to crime and afterwards, certain family member or a friend or the investigator keeps no stone unturned to punish the offenders.
However, this excruciating and explicit portrayal of the rape and murder involving woman and children was something that we, the audiences of Bangladeshi films, have never experienced before. There was no hero to save the day, no one to provide justice to the victims. It was raw, hopeless, and indeed, a tragic truth that left us in utter shock.
Initially, I was bothered by the whereabouts of the youngest child of the family, but in due time, the mystery was disclosed. There wasn’t any question that was left unanswered and the acting of most of the cast members, especially the head of the gang played by Rashed Mamun Apu, was terrific. Taskeen, however, failed to uphold his calibre. The dialogues and cinematography could have been better; the props, specifically, the weapons could have been more realistic. Nevertheless, the sound-effects and make-up made a long-lasting impression on my mind.
One of the crucial scenes, in my opinion, was after the officer finished inspecting the spot, he called his wife to return home immediately. It was pretty ironic considering that being confined to their own cosy abode couldn’t ensure the victims’ safety. The victims were in their home sleeping peacefully, waiting to celebrate the birthday of the middle child of the family. Often in rape culture, victims are blamed for not being at home. We often fail to realise that it isn’t the fault of the victims who are unable to protect themselves, rather, it is the fault of the offenders who violated them.
It was horrific how a mere robbery turned into a rape-homicide with children victims, how greed turned into lust that unleashed the hidden monstrosities of people that the victims were acquainted with. It was way more horrifying that the perpetrators didn’t fear the law, they expected to get away with this gruesome crime as they didn’t leave any witnesses alive.
Therefore, even with all its shortcomings, Janowar will be considered a landmark in our film industry, as it has multiple points to ponder over. This film will definitely inspire young filmmakers to think out of the box and to focus more on contemporary social issues that need to be discussed.
Sharika Sabha is tired of convincing people that Economics doesn’t teach you how to make money. She loves human babies, books, and submitting assignments a few minutes before the deadline. She can be reached at [email protected]