Love Scenes: ‘Ghuddi’, a great, grounded romance about growing up

The classic Bangla film’s realistic approach to romance still resonates 40 years later

Zareef Daian
Published : 12 Feb 2024, 01:31 PM
Updated : 12 Feb 2024, 01:31 PM

Love Scenes is a column recommending movies with intriguing takes on love and romance for the week of Valentine’s Day.

Romantic movies are, in some ways, among the most fantastical genres.

They take place in worlds that seem much like ours but are packed with star-crossed lovers, grand romantic gestures, and happily ever afters.

Occasionally, though, a film manages to marry the heady rush of romance with the realities of our regular lives.

Syed Salahuddin Zaki’s 1980 film Ghuddi is one of these rare cinematic moments.

Released at the turn of the most influential decade in Bangladeshi history, the movie did not immediately light up the box office. To be honest, it only played on a few screens. But, while many of the flashier pictures of the time have faded from memory, Ghuddi is still heralded as a classic.

The reason is its approach.

A coming-of-age romance is a well-worn genre. But Ghuddi stands out by grounding its narrative in the authentic realities of its present.

Asad (Raisul Islam Asad) is a former freedom fighter who is struggling to find his footing due to suppressed PTSD and the waywardness of youth. Ghuddi (Suborna Mustafa) is an architectural student at BUET, preoccupied with all that life has to offer. The two meet at a movie theatre and there is an immediate connection. But Asad, in his attempt to woo her, decides to pose as a successful businessman.

The beats of the plot are all familiar, but it is their treatment that elevates the film. 

Ghuddi takes its cues from the Indian subcontinent’s alternative cinema movement and Italian neo-realism. The situations and conversations our characters find themselves in are grounded and relatable. They do not shy away from exploring the socio-political landscape but do not allow that aspect to overwhelm the core story either.

The screenplay treads a fine line, reflecting the conflicting emotions of a young country and young people as they navigate the complexities of what freedom means. 

Accordingly, Ghuddi’s romance is as playful, impulsive and exciting as can be. But it is also nuanced through the remarkable performances and honest representation of the lives and culture of young people of the time. The protagonists are neither one-dimensional nor incredibly unique. They are simply human. Their love story feels true to those formative relationships of our lives, where two personalities connect and mingle without ever losing their identities or ideologies. 

There’s also the soundtrack by Happy and Lucky Akhand – among the earliest rock stars in our country’s history – and featuring riveting tracks like “Ke Bashi Bajay Re” and “Abar Elo Je Sondha".

And, of course, no Bangladeshi can resist the movie’s impact as a time capsule, offering us rare and beautiful glimpses of 70s Dhaka and the beaches of Cox’s Bazar before years of urbanisation and pollution. 

Even 40 years later, it all hits like a bolt of lightning, as thrilling and energising as any modern rom-com. Give it a watch when you’re looking for something a little different for date night. It is completely worth it. 

The full film is available on YouTube:

This article is part of Stripe, bdnews24.com's special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.