The Salt in our Waters (Nonajoler Kabbo)
After the death of his father, sculptor Rudro (Titas Zia) travels to a remote fishing village on the Bangladeshi Delta to work on his next project. But the shoals of fish the village depends on are depleting, and the young artist is soon made a scapegoat by the community’s religious patriarch, who condemns his art as blasphemous idols. With a severe cyclone quickly approaching on the horizon, culture and tradition are heading for a collision in The Salt In Our Waters, the feature debut from writer-director Rezwan Shahriar Sumit.
The director packs a lot into this ambitious movie: a warning about the drastic consequences of climate change; a critique of customary and religious values in modern society; and a Romeo and Juliet-esque love story between Rudro and local girl and muse Tuni (Tasnova Tamanna). And, thanks to his nuanced and carefully paced approach to his script, the filmmaker successfully weaves each facet of his picture into a splendid and thoughtful – if somewhat melodramatic – drama which doesn’t hold anything back in its critique.
A solid and sympathetic performance from Zia is easily the film’s highlight. Acting as the gateway for viewers to enter this isolated community and its way of life in addition to delivering the pivotal emotional beats that drive the narrative forward, the protagonist’s performance is the glue that holds everything together. The acting from the supporting players is likewise commendable and, even though he comes across as a little cartoonish, Fazlur Rahman Babu makes for an intimidating and charismatic antagonist who steals every scene he’s in.
As far as debuts go, The Salt In Our Waters is nothing less than spectacular. In terms of scope and ambition, Sumit proves himself to be a name to look out for. However, this feature is far from being perfect. Lacklustre chemistry between Zia and Tamanna makes it difficult to care about a romance that already feels as if it’s only there to tick a box. Most disappointingly, though, the director abruptly ends his movie just as it starts to move toward a climax. Artistic statement or not, this ending will leave viewers high and dry.
A striking yet subtle project with plenty of depth, this premiere marks a strong start to a promising career.
The Salt in our Waters (Nonajoler Kabbo) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch a clip from The Salt in our Waters (Nonajoler Kabbo) here: