Ten strangers, one house in a remote location, no outside contact and only one long path which gets compromised as soon as trouble arises. The plot is something that has been seen in a variety of films across the world, although not much in films from Bangladesh. However, the template for this originally came from Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”. “Kaler Putul” begins with a tribute note to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock and we can see that the director is a huge fan of such murder mysteries. The film itself acknowledges its similarities to Agatha Christie’s fabled novel as the characters triy to use the knowledge of the book to their advantage.
From the first sequence of the arrival of the strangers, most will get the idea of where the film is going. Ten strangers arrive at a mansion in a remote bungalow, invited for different reasons by their host. While they were waiting for the host at lunchtime after reaching there, a tape timed to play at that time starts playing. In the tape, a man dressed up as a lawyer accuses each of them with murder, some intentional and pre-planned and some accidental. However, the other man in the video orders capital punishment as the verdict for every one of them. As soon as the video is shown, some of them recognize it as the famous novel by Agatha Christie and think of it as a joke. However, things take a turn when the killings start and each of them reflects on their part about the unravelled murders from the video.
As the film progresses and the deaths continue, the suspicion is on every one of them and some start to act upon it and turn on each other. With each death, one of the puppets in the living room also starts disappearing. When it is revealed that some of them have their histories intertwined in the past, the suspicions increase and accusations arise. The knowledge about the novel gives another layer of suspicion and actions they can take, which ends up giving it a different ending than what the characters expect.
The conscious effort to make the group be as diverse as the norms allow is obvious. This diversity also allows the diversity in the kind of actors who portray the roles, be that in their experience in the profession or their style of acting, although, this also made it feel like watching different films stitched together. While Mahmudul Islam Mithu is more of a grounded actor, Ferdous Ahmed’s style is more dramatic and theatrical. Lutfur Rahman George is sometimes trying a bit over the top comedy even though it doesn’t really fit in there. Jannatun Noor Moon did make it feel like this is her first film and doesn’t entirely know what she’s doing. Similarly, everyone else came in between these styles.
A debutant director having a limited budget is clearly reflected on “Kaler Putul” and we can’t completely blame it on Reza Ghalib. The effort to include social commentary and philosophy ends up superficial. However, the passion and the heart for telling such a story can be seen in the film. What makes “Kaler Putul” worthwhile is that such an attempt at a different style of storytelling in Bangladesh cinema itself is commendable.