The Story, The Structure —
in a nutshell:

Bangali Bilash is a suspense drama with art house sensibilities embedded at the core.
The story of my film is simple.
It’s a film within a film:
two girls and a boy triangle plays out with a new twist; no love; only greed, and betrayal.

The boy is a filmmaker.
Comes to Bangladesh to make a film.

Why Bangladesh?
His father is Bangladeshi. Mother is French-Tunisian.

The boy was abandoned by his mom.

He wants to explore his past while making the film.

The first female character is Mitra.
Mitra was the Filmmaker’s Ex-girlfriend. He cast Mitra as the film’s protagonist.

In the meanwhile, his money is finished. Everybody who wants to give him money wants him to replace Mitra with Rushti.
Rushti is the Film’s 2nd Protagonist.

Mitra and Rushti are played by two actresses.

But, like Mulholland Drive,or Fight Club it just might be the case that
Mitra and Rushti are the same person.

Or they might be lesbian lovers. We do not know.

Mitra and Rushti go through the same experiences but a little different.

Mitra is tame.
Rushti is angry and wild.

Both want to use the filmmaker to escape Bangladesh to go to the west.

In the end, Rushti is in Cannes.
Mitra is still in Dhaka.
Rushti provokes Mitra to kill the filmmaker.

In the ultimate betrayal, she also calls the police to have Mitra caught while she was driving to dump the dead body.

Then, we discover Rushti, in bed with another girl.

And all this might be inside a movie,
since we see the filmmaker is receiving Palm d’or for the film he made with Mitra and Rushti.

There are 3 parts of the film narratives:

a) Mitra’s narrative
b) Rushti’s Narrative
c)The boy’s filmmaking (He is having a lot of trouble; no fund, his cinematographer is disobedient and dominates the crew and don’t listen to the director; the 1st AD goes away without asking for permission etc. etc..)

Near the middle of Ebad’s Tractatus Bengalium (Bagali Bilash), there is a sequence where French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard plays a brief but symbolically important role. As Faiyaz Sharif, the filmmaker protagonist of Tractatus, stands with arms outstretched at a dusty crossroads, a young Godard, with a movie-camera comes up one of the paths . He goes up to Ebad and says very politely: “Excuse me for interrupting your third world revolution, but could you please tell me the way towards Bengali cinema after Satyajit Ray?”

Ebad points first in front of him, then behind him and to his left , and he says: “ That way is the cinema of aesthetic adventure and philosophical equity, while this way is the Third World cinema, our cinema, a dangerous and divine cinema …”
Ebad and Godard starts off down the path of the Third World, when the inexplicable appearance of all the major characters of Bangali Bilash seems to discourage them from proceeding in this direction. And a red ballon—like Lamorisse’s—doggedly insisting o following them and then

Ebad and Godard double back to the original point of the crossroad. Ebad sets off anew along the path of aesthetic adventure and reinventing Bengali cinema as a philosophy machine.
I have chosen to begin the synopsis of Tractatus Bengalium (Bagali Bilash) by undergirding this brief sequence and pointing out the films toungue-in-cheek and naïve symbolism because, I believe, it to be of critical importance, not just for an understanding of what the film is trying to do but also for a glimpse at how Tractatus Bengalium (Bagali Bilash) is engaging with the history of cinema and certain conversations of contemporary cinema.
Tractatus Bengalium (Bagali Bilash) is film within a film where the cinema blends in with the reality TV and the separation between cinema and everyday reality collapses: think Man Bites Dog meets Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, channeled through Holy Mountain.
A lone car, Japanese make, is being driven along an congested alley way across the older part of the town towards an abandoned ferry port of the old Ganges.
At the wheel Rushti, an actress in her early 40’s.
We follow the car for a while, time enough to notice there’s something off about Rushti; the satellite radio is playing and Rushti ad-libs to the tune; like always Rushti is traveling with her hair dresser and chauffeur.
The car turns off and draws away. As night falls we see the silhouette of a teeming great city in the distance, from where Rushti’s car is speeding away.

Night has come. Once again close up on Rushti. She is stopped by two policemen on the abandoned ferry ghat. We see Rushti from the policemen’s point of view and through the closed car windows. Rushti is wearing a earmuff and is probably on a Xanax and Oxycontin cocktail; her phone has fallen from her hand. One of the police is knocking on the closed window and the other one is recording the whole incident.
Inside the car, Rushti, the hairdresser and the chauffeur are all frantic and trying to reach the minister who used to have Rushti on retainer.
Young kids and workers who were sniffing glue, and sleeping in the nearby sheds have started to come out; they have an instinctive distrust of the police—who are corrupt and evil—and are all yelling insults at the police and demanding why they have stopped the car.
In the meanwhile, police have discovered the dead body of an expat film director—Faiyaz—in the trunk.
We witness a decoupage of television news, social media posts, YouTube contents which strangely identifies and shows not Rushti but another actress Mitra as the driver of the car; on different channels, medias and screens we see that, Mitra has been arrested allegedly for trying to convey Faiyaz’s dead body.
It is possible that, Mitra is Rushti’s, what filmmaker David Lynch calls, a fugue state or a split self and we as audience
Members are privy to both Mitra and Rushti’s journey and relationships with Faiyaz and the film he is making.

Faiyaz has started to make his film in 70mm but resorted to shoot in 35mm 4perf ; he is constantly devising plan to how to blend the different quality footage he is collecting and constructing.
Faiyaz is inundated with production issues: first off, making a quality film in Bangladesh is almost impossible—there is no infrastructural support; there is no organized film industry or a competent workforce; there are almost no resources to support a film project of the magnitude Faiyaz is conceiving; due to the extreme beaurocratic restrictions and red tapes it is almost impossible to issue work permit to bring in professional crew and competent actors; on top of that, Faiyaz finds himself in the most polluted, one of the most corrupt and crime ridden— according to Transparency International—cities in the world where life is permanently either paused or in extreme slow motion due to the worst traffic jam, crumbling infrastructure and natural and manmade disasters;
Secondly, Faiyaz’s Director of Photography has the ambition to be a filmmaker; he leaves the set on day’s notice to pursue his own project and is in battle with the first Assistant Director of Faiyaz’s production and is challenging Faiyaz’s authority on the set.
Faiyaz is quickly running out of money and unless he raises $1.2 million in a rush, his production will be stalled or will prematurely end.

Faiyaz’s family is well connected in the country. All through the film we see Faiyaz is different Corporate or other speaking engagements and meetings trying to secure funds to save the film.
Through one of these engagements, a deputy minister, introduces Faiyaz to a Islamist guru who propositioned Faiyaz that, he will arrange the fund for Faiyaz, in exchange among few other things he replace Mitra with Rushti who has been a very close companion of the minister: Rushti’s mother was a maid servant at the minister’s house; when Rushti was very young both the minister and his
Mentally disabled son raped Rushti.
Rushti has a strange relationship with the Minister’s disabled son Mushfiqur; still, she often chats with him, they spent a fair amount of time together, and Rushti bathes him and takes care of him, when she can.
The minister, albeit, still lords over Rushti and Mitra’s life but he is a pedophile and his sexual affection, these days, are limited to a younger girl called Alokmini.
Faiyaz knows and trusts Mitra but he does not know Mitra and Rushti are plotting against him and using him to get out of the minister’s web of influence and reach and leave Bangladesh forever.
Tractatus Bengalium (Bagali Bilash) has a shocking, suspenseful, and almost Hitchcockian end: in desperation, Faiyaz makes a draft cut of the film, with all the footage he has gotten, and this partial film gets into the official selection of the Festival de Cannes. But, Faiyaz’s passport is

ceased at the airport; the cans of his film are stopped to ship. While Rushti and Alokmini— minister’s latest underaged squeeze and another character in Faiyaz’s film—leaves for the Cannes, Mitra and Faiyaz are held back.
Faiyaz, after leaving the airport and being interrogated at the police station, Faiyaz— unbeknownst that Rushti has already left the country with the help of the minister—appears in Rushti’s house and finds Mitra waiting there.
By that time, Faiyaz has realized that, Mitra, Rushti, the Islamist guru have all been working for the minister all along and Faiyaz’s struggle to save the integrity, aesthetic and Mitra’s place in the film was all in vain and to no end.
Faiyaz asks Mitra what she is doing at Rushti’s place and how does she know Rushti. Mitra says that, it doesn’t matter how she knows Rushti and Faiyaz has no control over her life; while Faiyaz will finish the film and go abroad Mitra has to live in this shitty, totalitarian, and corrupt city and she cannot afford to quarrel with the rich and powerful citizens.
She admits to Faiyaz that she still feels something very strange in him, that she can’t explain to herself and doesn’t sense in any other man. In short, Faiyaz still intrigues her but Rushti makes things come alive in Mitra that she never experienced before.
The conversation turns into a violent confrontation followed by a 16min monologue of Mitra a la Véronika’s monologue, in the penultimate sequence of Jean Eustache La Maman et Ia putain: the authenticity and force of Mitra’s monologue puts it for me among the greatest of all

cinematic moments: the sheer verbal indefatigability and its combination of emotional vulnerability and sensitivity; Mitra’s chronic indecisiveness – familiar from generations of Rohmer heroines, but also perhaps from Jean-Paul Belmondo in Godard’s Pierrot le fou (1965) – acquire monstrously symptomatic dimensions, from the tragic screen persona to the hyperreal length of the sequence itself, looping round upon Moebius-fashion the event of Mitra’s agency of her brown femininely gendered body in the wrong end of a Muslim-majority “third world” society, the mistakes of the intersectional third wave feminists in the wrong end of a Muslim- majority “third world” society, and how at the same time Mitra resents Faiyaz for not intervening while her attempt at group sex turned into a gang-rape scene which Faiyaz had watched quietly and left.
After the fight, Faiyaz finishes Mitra’s bottle of a single malt whiskey and dozes of in her bedroom.
Mitra calls Rushti at Cannes.
We realize Mitra and Rushti has planned and rehearsed for this moment many times. As Rushti confirms that, everything has been arranged, Mitra bashes Faiyaz’s head in and drives his dead body to the abandoned ferry ghat.
In an act of ultimate betrayal, Rushti calls the minister and lets him know that, Faiyaz has been killed and nobody can connect the minister with the child porn syndicate or the black money he has transferred to a European bank—with Faiyaz’s help—anymore.

And, that Mitra is at the abandoned ferry ghat dumping Faiyaz’s body.
Thus, paying the price of her freedom, a relived Rushti returns to her bed from her suit’s living room; while from the dark side of the bed young Alokmini emerges and kisses her and as they make love and talk, we realize the web of deceit and betrayal is never ending.
At first sight Tractatus Bengalium (Bagali Bilash) fits into a type of film of which 1960s/70s French cinema is notoriously productive: the highly verbalized introspection and self-analysis of the cultivated and privileged. Rohmer’s countless navel-gazers are probably the best known, while the work of Richard Linklater or Whit Stillman indicates the influence of this tendency on American indie cinema.
I designed Tractatus Bengalium (Bagali Bilash) to take advantage of and stand witness to not the cultural upheaval of May ‘68, but the post 9/11 and a war-on-terror torn South-Asian society characterized by new sexual and identity politics, fulsome and often highly public analysis of the feminine and other oppressed genders . At a time when the “right to speak” has been paramount, when people crowded into the occupied streets or took advantage of the social medias not only to overthrow the legacy regime of bodily truths but also to express their deepest feelings, and even to recount their dreams, verbal and emotional self-indulgence of the Tractatus Bengalium (Bagali Bilash) come to be celebrated almost as a duty.

Tractatus Bengalium’s constant use of fades between sequences contributes to this effect, as does the difficulty of knowing over how long the action takes place – a difficulty reinforced by the characters’ unending sameness-in-difference. If these monologues have a tragic dimension which offsets their undeniably irksome self-indulgence, that tragedy, as the film’s title suggests, is probably a very Bengali one – an Oedipal drama with Mitra and Rusti as the primary mother- whore focus.
In some cases, Mitra and Rusti’s words, in dialogues address (as it happens) notions of discourse and intertextuality which Tractatus Bengalium’s puts into play and interrogates quite as searchingly as anything in later-period Jean-Luc Godard or Lars Von Trier of Brreaking the Waves.
In the final sequence of the film, Faiyaz wins the coveted palm d’or at Cannes, confusing and putting Tractatus under question, once again, what is cinema and what is real, where cinema ends and the horizon of reality begins, in Tractatus.