Directed by Chowdhury Asif Jahangir Arko | Reviewed by Anushka Dutta
Director, writer and producer of KISTIMAAT or Checkmate, the versatile filmmaker, Chowdhury Asif Jahangir Arko, is an Architect, Cartoonist and Dancer likewise. He secured his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. His knowledge of the different elements of filmmaking, such as direction, cinematography, editing and screenplay comes from his High School education in the Department of Film and Television at Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, Dhaka, Bangladesh. At present, our multi-talented director, Arko, runs “ARK Films” – a media production company, along with “Studio Tripod” – an Architecture firm. Chowdhury Asif Jahangir Arko is known for having won the Best Fiction Short Film at Celebrating Life Film Awards 2018 for his earliest production, “Dur- Alapon”. His previous projects, “The Dustbin Connection” and “Last Wish”, have earned a great many international honours. What is even more applaudable is that Mr Chowdhury stuns us once again with his competency in another sphere of cinema, that is, acting, as he features as the Chess expert in KISTIMAAT.
Marginally literate and penniless duo Noor and Babu, casting Tapas Kumar Mridha and Rawchy Ritch respectively, is the prime focus of Chowdhury’s latest short feature film. KISTIMAAT incorporates a life-altering television game show that promises ten lakh rupees in return of correct responses to eleven questions. The dominant plot of this feature film deals with the play of mere luck. Noor and Babu not only loiter around from one place to another with no consequential purpose, but also, they seem to be doomed and ill-fated from the very onset of the film.
The feature film opens with the pair sitting aimlessly in front of Cream & Fudge store. Noor is meticulously inspecting a banknote. Soon we are introduced to their never-ending state of misfortune as we discover that Noor had unwitting given away his 100 rupees note to the cobbler instead of his 10 rupees note, and is now left with insufficient balance to purchase the pastry he longed for.
The plot is simple, linear and concise, with no digressions from the main story. As the story progresses, we encounter several such instances to support the ill-fate of the duo. Moved by the single mouth-watering pastry they could afford for the two of them, Noor and Babu decide they will open their own confectionery selling desserts at much affordable prices. But the idea of opening such a business seems impractical given their nominal savings combined. It is then that they come across a poster advertising a Quiz program offering a fortune to the lucky winner.
Noor, being the lesser intelligent of the pair, suggests Babu to take part in the contest on behalf of both. As destiny works against the unfortunate, while waiting in the queue for the registration, Noor gets enchanted by the beautiful receptionist (casting Shahnaz Masud) and unknowingly signs his own name for the game show. While noone in the neighbourhood believes in his inherent potential, Babu acts as a loyal and devoted friend throughout. He seeks the assistance of Abbas Bhai (casting Mohammad Iftekhar Bin Salam) – the apparently most educated person of the neighbourhood to train the seemingly empty-headed Noor. The events unfold in an explicit manner, leading to a lucid climax and finally an unexpected ending.
Risal Ahmed, the host, plays a cardinal character through which Chowdhury validates the title of the film. The twist at the end justly upholds the naming of the film. Watch the film to unmask the exciting revelation at the end. The dusty, ragged mood of the setting is accented by the yellow colour scheme. The harmonising background music skilfully grabs the attention of the audience. The Tabla rhythms and beats make the development of the plot soothing and entertaining. In the present project, Chowdhury has mainly explored the genres of Comedy and Drama, and sets forth an encouraging and humorous journey of his luckless protagonists.
Anushka Dutta is a student of English Honours, and a part-time content writer. A writer, singer and an artist; they have worked as an ambassador for Japan Film Festival in 2020 organized in Kolkata, India. They are a professional singer and have done playback singing in movies.