'Mateer Moina', shown on April 18 at 4.30 pm is indeed a different kettle of fish compared to 'Aaina'. Here too the poor are shown and it is confined to rural Bangladesh and to a small town. But the picturisation is indeed sophisticated, something that appeals to the Western sensibility. The film won the critics' award at Cannes in 2002. There is a fine play of light and darkness in the frames. The ethnic elements of faith and music and belief form the visual focus of the narrative.
First, there is the innocent assertion of puritanical Islam in the nooks and corners jostling uncomfortably with the Hindu festivals, rituals and beliefs. There is also the rich folk Islam of Bangladesh with its music and poetry, which is both powerful and moving.
The story centres round a village kazi, who practises homeopathy and who scorns at allopathy as part of his ideological dislike of all that is Western. He sends his son away to a madrasa, he loses the life of his daughter because he sticks to his ineefective medication of homeopathy and opposes the use of antibiotics in a principled opposition to the allopathic system. Then there is the political upheaval that is the prelude to the formation of Bangladesh. There is also the little story of Roknoddin at the madrasa who cannot adjust to the narrow ideology of puritanical Islam.
These are the interesting complications in the story and they form the strength of the film. The film's weakest link is acting and the narrative. The story is good but it is told from the outside as it were. It is not the tragic story of the village kazi that reflects the ideological and political tumult but it is the gathering storm that frames the story. As a result, the film stands rather awkwardly on a single leg as it were.