Banglar Hero (Review)

Banglar Hero

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.

Inspector Abu (Manna) – The Banglar Hero himself! Inspector Abu is the baddest cop in the universe whose chief takes him off so many cases even the chief can’t keep up on the paperwork. Inspector Abu rips off arms, beats up thugs, guns down criminals, dresses as a clown, lobbies for immigration reform, gets most of his loved ones killed, and spends half of his life in jail. He’s sure, he’s soon, and he’s larger than life.
Dr. Masutke (Omor Shani aka Omar Sani) – Dr. Masutke is dating Abu’s sister Asti and will soon join the family. Except for when he lies against Abu in court then is gunned down protecting Abu. His name is a guess but it is very close to what they are saying.
Salma (???) – The wife of Inspector Abu, who tries to play tricks on her husband from time to time when she isn’t selling her organs to get her husband out of jail.
Asti (Mousumi) – Sister to Inspector Abu and engaged to be married to Dr. Masutke. Until Dr. Masutke’s untimely demise. Her name is a guess like all the rest
Daughter (???) – Inspector Abu’s young daughter who becomes a target of the bad guys after her mother dies.
Tubby Buddy (???) – Tubby Buddy is Abu’s one friend on the force who isn’t a corrupt jerk. But since Tubby Buddy can’t kick lots of butt, he has to suffer under the weight of all his corrupt bosses and try to help Abu when he can. Tubby Buddy is probably played by a famous Banglar comedian but I can’t figure out who he is.
Evil Dude (???) – The evil dude is probably played by a guy who plays a lot of evil dudes in Banglar cinema, but I don’t know who he is. But he sure is evil!
Corrupt Cop (???) – Abu’s boss is on the take, and is perfectly happy to have Evil Dude terrorizing the neighborhood. Abu just keeps ruining his plans!

Continue reading