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Brick Lane

August 25, 2011

This movie is not on You-tube. Saw it un UTV movies today. Bangladeshi English film. Later i find that its a novel made into an award winning picture.

I think this is my 2nd Bangla movie. First one i don’t remember – i saw it long back and just can recollect that i loved it too.

I missed the opening scenes so thought of catching it up in you-tube but its been removed. The story is that of an immigrant Bangladeshi family living in UK, with all their struggles for survival.

Nazneen, a Bangladeshi married woman with 2 daughters, has a loser for husband who is jobless. She does a seamstress’s job from home when she meets Karim, another Bangladeshi, with whom she has an extramarital affair.

How Nazneen, the village girl whom Chanu, her husband married, blossoms into a strong woman is the story. Throughout the film Nazneen (whoever the star is) is wearing Bengal cotton saris that are my favourite.

In this film, Gandhi is mentioned more than once that took my breath away. Chanu, the husband mentions him. And then Karim, the guy with whom Nazneen has extramarital also mentions Gandhi. Goes a long, long way to show how different Bangladeshi are compared to Pakistanis.

Nazneen, the wife and mother, is like a typical south Indian heroine. Absolutely no make-up. No frills. Reminds me of good tamil and kerala films. Such a natural setting.

There is a bold scene by islamic standards in the film between Karim and Nazneen. I think crossing the line with Karim helps Nazneen discover the woman in her.. In a way it helps her…

It shows in the way she takes on the moneylender woman who extracts heavy interests in pounds in the name of Allah. The transformation is complete by this time.

I had underestimated the husband Chanu through out the film just like his wife Nazneen until he proves himself on 3 occasions.

He obviously seems to be aware of Nazneen’s affair with Karim and says, ‘i am not blind’ indirectly referring to it, but never reprimanding her for anything or directly referring to it either.

The eldest of the 2 daughters, the teenager Shabana also is aware of her mother’s extramarital.

Karim gets Nazneen pregnant i guess (my MIL asked for chai at this time so i missed it) but vanishes just at the moment. I think Nazneen does away with it – her husband sees her through this period. One would never think the fat gibberish man could have such an inner depth after all. I saw the nursing scene. A husband nursing his wife on her abortion of her foetus, a gift from a discreet lover, is something you cannot find even in a tolerant India. Hats off to the director. There is no bitterness, no open remorse (on part of Nazneen), no ugly spats, nothing. Just a little help without any overt kind gestures on the part of the husband.

Good maturity in the whole family. Excellent characterization. Each character is so strong, and the actors fit into the roles.

Direction is another genius. How Nazneen forgets to cover her head in the presence of Karim and she remembers this with a shy smile is a good scene.

Another one is how Karim is shown to transform into a radical slowly, with growing a beard. In first scene, he is clean shaven, there there is a slight stubble. The final time they meet, he looked a total stranger even to me.

The second occasion when the husband proves himself in front of his wife is when he takes Nazneen to the Bangla muslims ethnic meeting which is arranged by Karim. Chanu questions the motives of the radicals and says, ‘in East Paksitani, 3 million were killed during the creation of Bangladesh and muslims killed muslims. So how can you become my brother just because you are a muslim? and how much are you my brother because you are a muslim over any other guy walking in the street?’

This one scene is a clear proof of why while Pakistan is digressing, Bangladesh is progressing. There is a scene where Shabana, the eldest daughter tells her younger sister, ‘In Bangladesh, you have to brush teeth with twigs and do your toilet in buckets.’ Sad, but the highlight is, even in such trying conditions, Bangladesh is not hopeless like Pakistan.

Nazneen is confirmed with this meeting, what sort of a man she is married to,. Its one more showing of maturity in husband-wife relationship. Good judgement.. She tells Karim who is forcing her to divorce her husband and marry him, that she cannot marry Karim. The direction is at its best when Nazneen never mentions what her illness is to Karim. No reference to pregnancy anywhere in the film – ‘only illness.’

Chanu prepares to leave for Bangladesh with his family resigning himself to fates. But the children resent it and so does Nazneen. Finally after a melodrama when Shabana tells her father he is pathetic and that there is no Bangladesh and it existed in another world, the father relents and heads back alone to his home Bangladesh…

Atlast, Nazneen is really liberated…

Excellent cast for heroine. The shy, sad face who still gets bold with Karim, with the money lender-extractor and then finally with life….

The truth is, young wives/mothers in subcontinent are exactly like this Nazneen. We all marry very young – although i did not marry as young as Nazneen – and we all grow up with our children finally i guess. May be having an arranged marriage is the reason. May be when we come across someone who likes us for what we are are or for the woman we are, the temptation gets too irresistible…

May be after redefining ourselves like this later on in our life with the help of a third person male, after even having our own children, we make a self-discovery of who we really are….like Nazneen did. I definitely did lol.

Good one. Long time since i saw such a meaningful stuff.


The more i see Bollywood movies, the more angry i get with them for not just portraying India in a rubbish manner but also for using such creative skills for uselss purposes. Utter waste of scarce resources. Sleaze is increasingly pedaled and misconstrued for entertainment. I have no appetite now sorry to watch hindi movies. I am fully into regional films that have more substance, good scripts and powerful cast – not glamorous stars.

What a beautiful film ‘Brick Lane’ is – feels like listening to some sad musical masterpiece. When did watching a bollywood picture give me that sense of fulfillment the last time? There are still regional films from south and bengali films made in Kolkata which very well cater to our creative hungry minds yet give us some entertainment value.

So sad, bollywood is trampling and crushing every other growth. I so much resent the wrong representation of India through bollywood films.

If there is no Aamir Khan for instance now in bollywood, i wonder how terrible the void will be in Hindi film industry.

Tamil film industry also is slowly moving in that direction which is very perilous.

Now i remember vaguely, the last bengali film i saw must have been our indian bangla film with subtitles. Good one.

Regional films and even foreign films like this Bangladesh film are most compelling to watch – atleast for those like me.

UTV world movies and World Movies channels offer the best foreign films for viewers in India. This film ‘Brick lane’ is essentially an english film with a bangladeshi story line pictured in deplorable housing quarters of Bangladeshi immigrants in UK. The sunday flea market for immigrants in London reminds me of one such for immigrants in US that afghans frequented in ‘The Kite runner.’

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