Prem Puran: Yet Another Intolerable Romanticisation of the Middle Class


R E V I E W – M O V I E


Fatin Hamama


*Spoiler Warnings*

 

Do you have an unhealthy obsession with romanticising anything and everything related to the word ‘মধ্যবিত্ত’ and the supposed aesthetic surrounding the very word that stems from substandard Facebook fictions that almost always tell unrealistic sob stories? If yes, then প্রেম পুরাণ, my friend, is the right fit for you.

Just to summarise a little, the short film follows Shimul, a middle-aged man, as he pays a visit to his old friend Shanu, who had moved to a remote suburban area after having eloped with her now husband, Tajul. Apparently, Tajul is an extremely idealistic person who believes in morality above all as a teacher, and doesn’t care that he has to live in extreme poverty to maintain that. Throughout the course of the movie, Shimul finds out that both of them have been working secret jobs to keep the family going, and that’s it.

Short films, just like short stories, are supposed to leave the audience craving for more; be it with an abrupt ending or a gradual one. However, in the case of this particular short film, not only did the ending feel loosely wrapped up, but also the whole storyline (small as it may be) was peppered with plot holes. That too in a way that it left no room for the desire to know more.

For instance, we get to know that in order to make a little extra earning, Tajul and Shanu are both working respectively as a rickshaw-puller during nighttime and a part-time cook for a local hostel during daytime — all while concealing the facts from each other expertly. The question here is that; considering that even now, people in suburban and village areas uphold local teachers on a pedestal of respect and fame— how exactly is it possible for the people of such a small township as shown in the film to NOT recognise a man of Tajul’s professional status…pulling a rickshaw? Is it because it’s dark at night? Absurd.

Also, there’s a scene at the very beginning after Shimul arrives in the township, when a random old man jumps out at him on the street and proceeds to ask, “শহরের মানুষ কি এখনও ভালবাসতে শিখেছে?”

Trust me on this, as tolerable such supposedly poetic scenes like these may be on the pages of a Humayun Ahmed novel, it’s nothing but awkward to see them in a film. Especially considering how there was no other role played by that very character in the rest of the film.

Overall, there’s this lingering feeling that this film used the representation of the lower middle-class as an aesthetic rather than what it really is. Sure, we get shots of an old house with rusty, crumbling appliances and a weed covered yard; but there were less realistic depictions of the actual struggles and more romanticisation.

However, putting aside all these, I’m still blatantly confused about one detail. Why exactly does the name of this short film include the word, প্রেম

I mean, aside from the fact that Shanu and Tajul eloped and are hiding stuff from one another so as not to hurt each other’s pride, there was no visible chemistry between them at all! There was nothing regarding their shared pain of poverty or at least the shared feeling of the simple affection or contentedness holding them together through it all. How exactly am I, as a viewer, supposed to even bother deciphering a film about love without even seeing a hint of it on screen? Sure, one may argue that it was too much to cram into a 35-minute-long screen time but if not, what reason does a viewer have to feel anything regarding the very notion the entire short film claims to be about?

The cinematography was somewhat alright, and the acting wasn’t so bad either. However, this story had so much potential, and could be played out in so many different, much preferable ways which it didn’t. So, I guess that the knowledge of the fact that it’s indeed possible to produce a short film without sacrificing plotlines for scripts, or character development for time limitations — still needs some recognition among Bangladeshi up and coming filmmakers.

However, if you’re in for it anyway, you can watch Prem Puran for a price as low as 20 BDT on Lagvelki, an up and coming OTT platform that provides top-notch service in regards to sourcing local content from local creators. Here’s the direct link to it— https://lagvelki.com/movie/prem-puran?

 


All of Hamama’s problems smell like দারুচিনি cause she’s দ্বীপ into them 24/7 . She also happens to be a part of TDA Editorial Team.

 

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