Phaim is a young “Bangla” (Bangladeshi) living in the multi-cultural Torpignattara neighbourhood of Rome. Like most young people he is struggling with his identity, pushing back against parental expectations, and trying to get laid. One day he meets an Italian girl, Asia and starts seeing her, aware that his parents want him to date a Bangla girl instead.
With its classic, Romeo and Juliet storyline, Bangla is an easy, enjoyable comedy. Debut director Phaim Bhuiyan also plays the lead role, and co-wrote the screenplay along with Vanessa Picciarelli . Bhuiyan’s career as a music video director is obvious in much of the framing, and in the fabulous, and often surprising, soundtrack.
This was certainly a safe choice as a first feature: teenage romantic comedy, with quirky characters and contemporary music. But it does do a little more than that. In his gentle portrayal of the teeming life of Torpignattara, he has painted a portrait of contemporary Italy, and European migration policies. He also shows a part of Rome not often the first choice as background for modern directors.
Bangla is unlikly to set the cinematic world on fire, but it is impossible not to like. Gentle and charming both in humour and social commentary, this is a respectable debut, and one senses that Bhuiyan has a great directorial future ahead of him.
Bangla is showing as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival, which runs from October 1-23rd at PalaceNova Eastend and Prospect.
Click here for screening times.