Between Loyalty and Desire

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Does the highly anticipated Chorki film live up to the hype?

Anika Chowdhury

When the teaser of Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s The Last Defenders of Monogamy got out, it became the talk of the town. Musician Xefer Rahman adopted a new look for the film and Chanchal Chowdhury, as always, ignited our anticipation with his mere presence in the trailer. Like everyone else, I hoped to see something new and exciting. The storyline itself was worth the hype. 

So, was I disappointed? My answer would oscillate between an indecisive no to a vague maybe – same as the emotional state of the characters I assume!

Released on the OTT platform Chorki, this 84-minute film artfully delves into the dichotomies of loyalty and desire, age and youth, tradition and modernity – all wrapped up in the engaging bittersweet bickering between its protagonists. Supporting performances were delivered by Samina Hussain Prema and Roddur Shoishob Shuddho, which added layers to the narrative. 

The story orbits around Shafqat (Chanchal Chowdhury), a steadfast boomer, devoted father, and loving husband, who manages an advertising company. Right under Shafqat’s wing works Lamia (Xefer Rahman), a free-spirited millennial who idolizes her boss. However, their relationship status changes when they take a business trip to Cox’s Bazar. 

Chanchal Chowdhury, known for bringing depth and authenticity to every character he plays, portrayed Shafqat with a compelling mixture of conviction and vulnerability. Xefer played her character with ease as well.

One of the film’s standout features is its script, which oscillates seamlessly between biting wit and poignant reflection. The dialogues between Shafqat and Lamia sparkle with a sharpness that is often missing in romantic dramas. Their exchanges, laden with generational insights and ideological clashes, do more than just push the plot forward – they essentially spark a broader conversation about the evolving nature of relationships and individuality in a rapidly changing world.

However, the characters felt underdeveloped. While it is okay to be vulnerable and be in touch with one’s emotions, at times, it felt to me that Shafqat was being overly (and quite unrealistically) emotional. That said, Chowdhury’s performance was truly entertaining. He delivered a performance that was filled with comedic despair and endearing stubbornness – personifying a man whose principles of fidelity are tested.

Xefer played Lamia with vivacious charm and a sharp tongue, but there was no backstory to her character, except showing that she was engaged just for the sake of the plot. In Bangladeshi culture, as in many others, women often bear the brunt of scrutiny in matters of infidelity far more harshly than men. The film vaguely touches on this. Nevertheless, there’s ample room to delve deeper into Lamia’s perspective and the unequal standards applied to her choices compared to Shafqat’s.

The color grading was done splendidly and the cinematography complements the story excellently, capturing the vibrant chaos of modern Dhaka and the stark, sometimes stifling environments of corporate spaces where much of the personal drama unfolds. 

However, all the while, I kept wondering: “Why were the co-workers not affected by/aware of this chaos?” The plot of the movie neglects to address this issue.

Also, there’s a bit of a drag in the middle of the story – perhaps Shafqat’s midlife crisis decided to mirror the pacing of the film. 

Culturally, the film does an admirable job of presenting a microcosm of Bangladeshi society, reflecting its diverse attitudes towards marriage, love, and fidelity. The Last Defenders of Monogamy subtly integrates elements of the dilemma of endless choices thanks to modern consumerism and its impact on personal lives, adding a layer of depth to the plot. In the end, Farooki doesn’t spoon-feed us answers but rather leaves the door open for interpretation.

So, if you’re in for a night of laughs, a touch of existential dread, and a dash of romance (sprinkled with some generational warfare for good measure), The Last Defenders of Monogamy should be a good watch for you. 

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