Shakira Ahibo Bokultolor Bihuloi – the name itself promised to be a unique movie going experience and the good news is that it more than keeps its promise and offers you with a cinematic experience which is possibly never-before-seen in Assamese cinema. It is an original and scathing satire dealing with an indigenous natural disaster that the people of a village (Bokultol) faces on an annual basis which is unpretentiously referred to as ‘Jatiyo Utsav/cultural festival’ in the film. A group of village youths and a city educated Himangshu/Himu (the main protagonist) take it upon themselves to work for the welfare of their village, as the representatives they have chosen have decided to lend a deaf ear to their problems. It doesn’t take a genius to guess that Shakira never appears in the film. Her name and celebrity status is used as a bait to pull in the audiences and demand their attention both literally and figuratively. What years of struggle and false government policies couldn’t do; the name Shakira finally set things in motion.
Director Himangshu Prasad Das who also plays the lead in the film has done a fine job of extracting credible performances from each and every actor who appears on the frame in a given scene, especially during the climax scene when a large crowd of people gather together to watch Shakira. He keeps the mood of the film light and frothy most of the times but sends his message across beautifully. The film never comes across as trying too hard to make a point.
The soundtrack of the film is very situational and on point. There are quite a few references to lyrics of so called modern popular Assamese songs such as ‘Bilahi Pokise’ of recent times to poke fun at their futility and decadence. If you pay close attention you might also hear Rajkumar Thakiriya’s song ‘Jak Jak Gabhoru’ playing in one of the scenes.
Comedy is an integral part of a satire and there are enough here to tickle your funny bones. Whether it’s the ‘who’s-better-than-who’ antics of Baruah and Talukdar, the rival gangs of the supporters of ‘Tuhin’ Garg and ‘Anurag’ Mahanta, an inept politician and his ambitious wife and the ‘selfie’ guy are just a few of those characters who keeps the laughter coming. Some jokes are genuine master strokes, some are silly while some are pure dull. Also look out for the guest appearances by our local news reporters like Wasbir Hussain and Nitumoni Saikia as themselves.
However things do go a bit overboard at times. The story tends to digress from the main issue towards the middle and it takes too long to get to the saturation point. You can already feel what will happen in the much anticipated D-Day but kudos to the director who employs innovative technique to tell his story which keeps the interest alive. The weakest link in the film has to be the cinematography. One also cannot overlook the poor quality print of the film.
Shakira Ahibo Bokultolor Bihuloi is nothing short of a cultural revolution but the ending leaves me with mixed feelings. It talks about being faithful and contributing to your birthplace all the way through but the lead character leaves the village for better options at the first given opportunity. Think!
Written by David Lagachu.