Apart from Jago Hua Savera, Zahir Raihan’s Kancher Deyal was probably the neatest film from the point of view of film making. Unusual camera angles, imaginative lighting, ‘involved’ direction and some crisp editing spoke highly of the young director’s promise as a film maker. The principal reason for its failure seems to be an over-confidence in the director who took his audience for granted. The film was unpretentiously aimed at the intelligentsia. By cutting out the usual elements of conventional popular productions i.e. songs, dances, love triangle etc. the director who was also the script-writer took great pains to alienate the urban proletariat and the rural audience. But he also failed to attract the intelligentsia.
The story is about a girl who grows up almost like an orphan in a joint family of two brothers and their families. She has lost her mother (a sister of the brothers) in childhood and her father is a habitual gambler with a bad luck. She develops romance with one of the two cousins in the house. When this is detected by his parents she is humiliated and then try unsuccessfully to get rid of her. The cousin’s parents arrange his marriage with another girl. Then suddenly the thing happens. The girl’s father wins a huge sum in a lottery and then dies in an accident leaving her the fortune. The news dramatically changes the attitude of the family toward her and now both the brothers want to have the girl as their daughter-in-law and an ugly quarrel ensues. But the girl, now having her chance to pay back, gives them a piece of her mind and decides to leave the house with the good hearted, cinema-crazy uncle who is really a hobo, because the world outside is a much wider place than that house riddled with petty intrigues and jealousies.
In the first half of the film, the theme develops quite elegantly. Supported by brilliant acting by the entire cast the tragic-comic details of the day to day existence are portrayed with unusual confidence for a comparatively new director. But, in the second half, the grip is quickly lost to obtuse melodrama. The sudden change in family’s attitude toward the girl (after the news of the fortune) is too sudden and exaggerated to the point of crudity. And the ending itself shown in a scene in which the good-hearted two walk down the road in the direction of the wide world, is too romanticized to be considered realistic. The film was shot, practically all of it, indoors on two or three sets creating a constant feeling of claustrophobia to symbolize or emphasize the “smallness” of the family’s horizon. But the attempt proved to be too ambitious. The overall impression was that of bad lighting and not of a carefully contrived atmosphere.
Why did the intelligentsia refused to take the film? At that time, intelligentsia in East Pakistan could be divided into three groups in order of decreasing volume: (a) Housewives, (b) the young generation and (c) the intellectuals.
For women, the plight of the girl was appealing but the ending in which she actually heads for nowhere is something difficult to swallow. Middle-class house-wives like to see a girl who has had so much of bad luck since childhood find a respectable, good-looking, honest-and-with-a-good-job sort of husband. Even for a reasonable commercial success the film should have been made compelling enough to make the housewives to see it at least twice. The film, with that `disastrous’ ending, decidedly failed to do this.
The faces of the leading members of the cast were mainly responsible for younger generation’s apathy. Sumita, who played the lead, looked too plump and a little too old for the role. Other actors portraying the boys in their late teens, although put up an excellent performance, looked far too old to be acceptable to the young. A good-looking actress with a frailer structure could have proved suitable in the role and add to the box-office appeal.
Finally, the intellectuals. For them the moral of the theme that money makes all the difference in the world was no new discovery and had been used too often in literature and in cinema.
The director of the film, Zahir Raihan took too much on himself and did not give much thought to the kind of the audience he wanted to attract – Alamgir Kabir
Cast and Production Credits
Year – 1963, Genre – Drama, Country – East Pakistan, Language – Bengali, Producer – Zahir Raihan, Director – Zahir Raihan, Music Director – Khan Attaur Rahman, Cast – Anwar, Sumita, Asya, Inaam, Anis, Rani Sarkar