TIFF 2019 Film Review: “Made in Bangladesh” (2019) ★★★★★

© Pyramide Films

It’s a rare thing when two conflicting concepts such as exploitation and empowerment is tackled in one film. Before getting deep into the review, allow me to ask you one question – how much do you know about your closets? Where the jeans you wear or your favorite t-shirt was made? I’m sure China and Bangladesh will be your first picks. The things we wear have a story to share that’s much more tearful than we can imagine. We know nothing about the people who make our clothes for us and are blissfully unaware of their daily struggles.

Set in Bangladesh, we see many women tirelessly working at the Modern Apparels factory. A fire tragedy happens, taking one employee’s life. The rest are sent home with no payment. One week goes without a job. Rent and bills must be paid, there is no food in the fridges. Shimu (Rikita Nandini Shimu), 23, angry about her violated rights, decides to form a union after being approached by a Union advocate. Determined to stop at nothing, the woman, however, is being stopped by her factory who tried to bribe her and offered her a better job with an extra day off so she could drop that idea. But it’s already late; Shimu has already made her mind and is willing to stop only when she fulfills her mission.

Shimu is married and supports herself and her unemployed husband, who’s quite demanding still. She ran away from Rajpur village, leaving her family behind when she was told that she will get married to a 40-year-old man when she was only 13 only. Our heroine moves to Dhaka when she turned 14 and has since worked at a shoe factory before joining Modern Apparels. “Garment factories hire women because they think women can be easily controlled. A female operator is paid far less than a male operator,” says Nasima Apa (Shahana Goswami), a Union advocate, and asks after hearing Shimu’s story, to collect 305 signatures from factories to begin demanding their rights.

There’s a lot to grasp about “Made in Bangladesh”, and the lack of human rights is one of them. Just not to be so naïve about what happens in Bangladesh, sadly, situations like these happens all over the world, even in a country you reside right now no matter how well advanced and democratic your country may be. Do not be surprised but that’s the reality some face when human rights are not reserved for those who work in a factory or bread bakeries.

“Made in Bangladesh” is a bold and suspenseful thriller that offers a nail-biting narrative. Till it’s over, you won’t be able to sit comfortably as there are always some obstacles arising trying to stop Shimu from achieving her goal. Screenplay written by Rubaiyat Hossain and Philippe Barrière (co-writer) and directed by Rubaiyat Hossain leaves no room for improvisation as it cleverly stages the biggest stand-off in such a way, you will probably find yourself loudly applauding for Shimu for what she does despite the opposition she faces on all possible fronts.

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