A 'Bird' That Doesn't Quite Sing
By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 28, 2004; Page WE38
Subtle to the point of inscrutability, the 1960s-set "The Clay Bird" is a nonetheless compelling look at both the personal and social dynamics of a Muslim family living uneasily among Hindus in East Pakistan in the days before the region gained independence and became Bangladesh. Switching back and forth between the family's rural village -- where the father's (Jayanto Chattopadhyay) reliance on homeopathic medicine jeopardizes the health of his sick daughter (Lameesa R. Reemjheem) -- and the distant Islamic school that the son (Nurul Islam Bablu) has reluctantly been sent to, the film swings between restrained melodrama and sweeping history.
Relationships are both cemented (between the boy and an eccentric classmate, played by charmer Russell Farazi) and broken (between the autocratic father and his heartbroken wife, played by Rokeya Prachy), even as social upheaval roils in the background, creating a larger context but not necessarily adding much to the family dramas. Taking its title from a musical allusion to the soul as a bird, "The Clay Bird" strikes several beautiful and lingering chords about the human condition, but the notes of the music ultimately never come together to form a coherent song.
THE CLAY BIRD (Unrated, 98 minutes) --Contains a bad word, a drug reference, rough treatment of children, discussion of military repression, off-camera violence and thematic material related to the death of a child. In Bengali with subtitles. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company