Banglar Hero (Review)
Directed and Produced by Ahmmad Nasir
It’s time to crack open a big can of Bangladeshi cinema!
Bangladesh was once part of Pakistan, known as East Pakistan (and Pakistan was part of India under the British…) but a civil war in 1971 got them their independence. Bangladesh is a Muslim country, and due to close cultural ties with both Pakistan and India, Bangladeshi cinema resembles both of the neighbors. We have strong he-man characters with mustaches yelling at each other like Pakistani cinema. From India, we have songs, dances, and tragedy happening to the hero.
Bangladeshi cinema is based out of the city of Dharka, and thus is known as Dhallywood, because every region needs its own “-ollywood”! There is also Bangladeshi cinema produced in India for the large Banglar population there, based out of the West Bengal city of Kolkata, and known as Tollywood. This was actually not only the first Tollywood, but the first “-ollywood” as it is a play on the neighborhood of Tollygunge in Kolkata where many of the movie studios were located in 1932. Blame Wilford E. Deming of American Cinematographer for all these “-ollywood”s you can’t keep straight!
Banglar Cinema was already going strong under Pakistani rule, but after independence production exploded. But by the time the 1980s were in full swing, Banglar films were on the decline. Now, with increased competition from TV and satellite shows, Banglar cinema has more problems than ever. But it also has undergone a rebirth, with the latter half of the 2000s producing a lot of new films and new talents. Where will these talents take Banglar film in the 2010s? We shall find out as you do.
In what is sadly common in a lot of foreign vcds, the vcd company advertises their name throughout the film. In addition, they seem to either be covering up a previous company’s logo because they took over the distribution rights OR they are straight bootlegging it. So we got annoying logos pasted over annoying logos with annoying scrolling text pasted over annoying scrolling text. The key word is annoying. This is pretty darn common in vcd releases from the region, because deluxe edition DVD boxed sets with director’s commentaries and lame behind the scenes extras are not the economic model of cinema in many countries. Pumping out dozens of films a year as fast as possible for theatrical run and then saturating the area with vcds making sure everyone knows that Famous Person is the star is the way to go.
How ’bout that scrolling text graphic?
Inspector Abu, the Banglar hero, is played by a guy named Manna. Manna was born SM Aslam Talukder in 1964 and entered acting at age 20 under the name Manna. Over his lifetime, Manna acted in over 350 movies and became one of the biggest names in the industry. As General Secretary of the Bangladesh Film Actors Association, he lead efforts to reduce vulgarity in Banglar cinema. He died in 2008 of a heart attack, probably from the stress involved in ripping off yet another guy’s arm.
I am pretty sure that Dr. Masutke is played by Omor Shani (aka Omar Sani) – who is married to Mousumi who probably played the sister Asti. I am not 100% positive, partially because there are very few good pictures of Omar Sani online, and in the ones that are, Omar has changed his weight and look considerably. At some point it looks like he wanted to try out for a Nutty Professor The Klumps sequel, not realizing it was all makeup on Eddie Murphy. But I guess he kept the local restaurant industry afloat…
I found even less information on director/producer Ahmmad Nasir. Besides a few references to this film, there is nothing out there at all in English.
We open with the Banglar Hero Mortal Kombat theme!
Inspector Abu and Dr. Masutke are at the train station to pick up Inspector Abu’s wife Salma and his young daughter. The daughter gets her necklace stolen, but Inspector Abu appears and fights the necklace thieves in the rain, slow motion Matrix kung fu style. It seems just like normal over the top action until Inspector Abu rips off a guys arm! This cop disarms everyone!
The next day Inspector Abu yells at an immigration board that seems to be making fun of one of the applicants. Inspector Abu, defender of immigrants!
While out with his wife Salma, Inspector Abu sees a gang sassing women on the street, so Abu beats up the gang. They call the cops and Inspector Abu gets arrested. At jail, the corrupt cops shakes him down for money, but Tubby Buddy works at this police station as well. Abu has him keep quiet, and Abu is let go, only to return to the station in a police uniform outranking the corrupt police officer! The corrupt guy cowers and is slapped around. So Inspector Abu is like a slaphappy Serpico! Another corrupt cop arrives in the precinct and Abu yells at him, too.
At home, Inspector Abu walks in on Salma pretending to be dead! So he slaps her! I totally didn’t see this loud, angry, yelling, arm-ripping dude as a spousal abuser. Okay, maybe I did. But don’t worry, the couple sings a song to reaffirm their love.
Dr. Masutke is given a picture of Abu’s sister, and tries to find her, but finds ugly woman and transvestites instead. This is called humor, I guess. Bring back the arm-ripping-off! Dr. Masutke then runs into her and takes her home, she gives him the eyes. You know what I mean. Dr. Masutke and the Sister are about to kiss and then vanish….because they have teleported off to do a music video! It is odd that the film so literally has them do a music break, to the point of leaping out of the plot and confusing those that remain behind. But I like that, more films should have the Quantum Leap musical break.
Inspector Abu is undercover as a bald, nerdy guru guy who tries to buy some drugs and then arrests the dude, a guy with a white stripe on his forehead. Inspector Abu shoots a bunch of gang members during this, then he shoots the unarmed white stripe guy and steps on his fake glasses. Keep in mind, he is the non-corrupt cop!
Inspector Abu later dresses as a Bangladeshi clown. Okay, is this guy Hannibal from the A-Team, with a wacky costume all the time? For those of you unaware of what a Bangladeshi clown looks like, just think of a KKK guy mixed with candy cane stripes. Clowns are terrifying in every culture. So Clown Abu is staking out a gun buy deal. I guess it is also normal for cops in Bangladesh to do important stakeouts by themselves regularly and multiple times a day with multiple costumes. Clown Abu then guns down all the gun deal people. Are there no courts in Bangladesh? Inspector Abu is like Judge Dredd.
Inspector Abu reports to his boss who is mad that Abu loves justice so much and won’t go corrupt. Then Abu goes home and makes love to his wife, which is represented to us as another musical number.
Some goofy-looking dude with big teeth and ears leads a gang that makes one of the corrupt cops drink some pee, then have him beat up by a bunch of women. He is even beaten by a legless guy because he stole food from him before. Being corrupt really pays.
Abu’s daughter sees Sister kissing Dr. Masutke and tattles to Abu, who gets upset it is happening under his roof, but everything ends up okay so I guess the two will be getting married or something.
Dr. Masutke calls in Inspector Abu because one of his patients is a woman who was pregnant who was kicked in the stomach repeatedly and lost the baby (we know this because she is all bloody) and won’t tell who did it. We see the flashback…they guy who did it has a mullet/Elvis hair, a tight shirt over his beer belly, and a beer in his hand. It is amazing how much of this is universal wife beating science. He would not look out of place in an Alabama trailer park. After getting the crap kicked out her in the flashback, she dies in non-flashback. I guess she was killed by flashback!
Inspector Abu beats up the guy and punches and kicks every one of his hired goons out of a second story window. This guy has a lot of second story windows in his apartment, as goons go flying out of at least four different windows. The Elvis guy is arrested. Now, this whole case is interesting because Inspector Abu was beating his wife before, but he only did a punitive slap as opposed to a major butt kicking that caused loss of baby. The lesson Banglar Hero is teach us is it is okay to beat women, but only if they deserve it and not too much.
Elvis Guy has a brother who is a big gang leader with long hair, gold chains, and a black mumu outfit. He and his goons yell at the corrupt Police Chief and demand that Elvis Guy gets let free. But he doesn’t, and we surprisingly find out there are criminal courts in Bangladesh, as Elvis Guy goes on trial. We also find out that Dr. Masutke is a jerk, as he’s throwing the case! The judge let’s Elvis Guy go. Outside, the goons thank Dr. Masutke, Inspector Abu sees it and starts beating Masutke up. His corrupt Police Chief tries to stop him, so Inspector Abu calls him corrupt, and the Chief slaps him. Abu slaps him back and yells and points.
This scene needs more ads for the vcd company written across it.
Enough of that interesting stuff, let’s have a song with sister and Dr. Masutke because of their marriage plans. Inspector Abu comes home and tattles what Dr. Masutke did, the Sister confronts Dr. Masutke, who says he did it to protect Inspector Abu’s wife and daughter who would be ran over if he did not by the evil long haired gangster guy (with the corrupt Chief’s approval.) Dr. Masutke goes to beg forgiveness to Inspector Abu, who is not having it, until a van drives up to shoot Abu and Dr. Masutke takes all six bullets. Which kills him! NOOOooooOOOOooooOOooOOO!!!
The grief from Dr. Masutke’s death causes Abu’s sister to hang herself from a fan! NOOOOoooooOOOOOooOOOoooOOooOOooOOOo!!
Inspector Abu is POed! He swordfights the frak out of a bunch of dudes guarding the drunken Elvis wife abuser. They are all hanging out in a warehouse filled with filthy, empty, stacked oil cans set up so people can be thrown into them. Bangladesh’s number one export is filthy, empty oil cans. The sliced up Elvis guy escapes on a motorcycle and tells his brother, who is drinking with the police chief. So they arrest Salma. Inspector Abu arrives and is beaten, then put on trial. His wife Salma testifies against him, part of deal to keep him alive.
His stay in jail is just Inspector Abu getting beaten all day by Elvis Guy and corrupt cops. And his hands are shoved into a fan. His wife Salma sells some organs to get bribe money to get Inspector Abu out of jail, which she accomplishes. Salma then starts to have a reaction, so the doctor sends Inspector Abu to go get drugs at the local store and there he gets harassed by Elvis Guy who steals the drugs. What results is a Matrixish fight which continues until Elvis Guy is beaten dead, then Inspector Abu keeps beating him. His police friend slaps sense back into him, but it is too late, Salma is dead. NOOOOOooooOOOOooOOOoOOOOOOOoOOOoOoOOoOOOoOOOOO!!!
Just imagine how long that NOOOO will be when the daughter dies!
At the hostpital, they are wheeling Salma’s body out, but long haired evil guy and his goons are there to get revenge. Hospital fight! Even Inspector Abu’s cop friend gets in some power punches. Inspector Abu is about to rip off the main baddie’s arm when the corrupt cops arrive and kick his wife’s body out the window!
The two rules of a Bangladeshi movie – everyone dies, and everyone goes flying out of a window.
Punch punch fight. Kill kill. Punch punch crunch. At one point Abu punches into the stomach of one of the corrupt cops and rips out his guts. He then snaps the Chief’s neck. I guess they’re gonna need a new Chief! I nominate Inspector Abu.
Long haired Evil Guy then grabs his daughter and throws her out the window. See? Everyone goes out the window! But Inspecor jumps out another window and catches her midair, saving her. This really happens in the film. It is all done with a dummy of the little girl making it even look more hilarious.
So Inspector Abu pulls out the evil guy’s eyes! Then he stomps on them! And impales evil guy on a fence! Good thing they didn’t make the bad guy’s death over the top!
Epilogue – many years later, Inspector Abu is getting out of jail.
His daughter is now a butt-kickng cop like him! Just wait until she throws some dudes out a window! She is probably even be played by a famous Bangladeshi actress, but I have no clue who.
Rated 7/10 (Dead mom, bad passerby, bad dude, Black Power, blam, the judge, eyeball time)
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