This, one of the few films from Bangladesh on Partition, is a sensitive portrayal of a minority family that refuses to leave for India during Partition, much like Salim Mirza in Garm Hava.
A lawyer on the banks of the river Chitra, ignores the momentous calamity around him and vehemently refuses to leave Bangladesh, even when his friends and family are doing so.
Time passes and it is the formation of Bangladesh in the 1970s from East Pakistan, and though he dies, his surviving family is forced to move, as oppressions against them from the majority community increases.
Thematically, it is like an extension of Garm Hava that seems to suggest that if there was another Partition in India, Salim Mirza's children might not have been so lucky.
Hey Ram (2000): Though different from Khamosh Pani, Hey Ram (made before Khamosh Pani) shares a similar decent into fundamentalist hell of one of its central character and depicts succinctly how religious ideology can slowly creep in and corrupt the most secular minds.
In Khamosh Pani, it is Islamic fundamentalism; in Hey Ram, it is the Hindutva agenda.
In the former film, the protagonist is unable to break the chains of this cage inside his mind; in the latter, as the reality of the human condition dawns on him, he draws back at the last moment, and thus redeems himself.
The film begins with the friendship of archaeologists Saket Ram and Amjad Ali Khan, best friends who are busy excavating in the ancient site of Mohenjodaro, a reference to the unified past of both India and Pakistan.
However, the idea of Partition looms large, and comes to an ominous life when Saket is in Calcutta with his wife, who is brutally raped and murdered by a Muslim mob. The otherwise peace-loving Saket Ram is filled with a maddening rage and goes on a murderous rampage.
He becomes a pawn in the hands of the Hindutva forces who hate Mahatma Gandhi for his sympathetic view of Muslims. Indoctrinated over time by Hindu fundamentalists, much like the son in Khamosh Pani, his final assignment is to assassinate Gandhi.
However, before this happens, fate draws him to a Muslim ghetto whose residents are under attack by Hindu fundamentalists. Here he meets his best friend Amjad, who despite the communal horrors that has befallen him, has retained his secular outlook. He argues and debates with Saket, but to no avail.
Finally, when Amjad sacrifices his life to save his friend, the spell of communalism is broken in Saket, who goes to meet and apologise to the Mahatma the next day, but is too late as Nathu Ram Godse does the task he was assigned to do.
The film comes full circle to the present, where communal riots have gripped Chennai and it is the intervention of a righteous Muslim police officer that allows the ambulance in which a now old and comatose Saket Ram lies, to reach hospital.
The tagline of Hey Ram reads, "A glimpse of yesterday, from a temporary height called today," and despite its flawed narrative pace, is landmark in many ways, especially in its ability to tackle and depict fundamentalism head on, something which few films in the country have done, let alone in a popular, 'commercial' venture like Hey Ram.
Image: A poster of Hey Ram