Jago Hua Savera (Day Shall Dawn). 1958. Pakistan/Bangladesh. Directed by Aaejay Kardar. With Khan Ataur Rahman, Tripti Mitra, Kazi Khaliq. In Urdu, Bengali; English subtitles. 91 min.
The great Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray excelled in Chekhovian portraiture, imaginatively bringing to life the foibles, hopes, and vices of ordinary people. Until the reemergence of Day Shall Dawn at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, few Westerners were familiar with the similarly humanist work of Aaejay Kardar or, for that matter, with 1950s Pakistani cinema more generally. At the time of its premiere in 1958, Day Shall Dawn seemed to herald a new kind of filmmaking in Pakistan, a strangely intoxicating mix of melodrama and Neorealism. But Kardar and his screenwriter, the poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, were branded as communist enemies of the country’s new military dictatorship. And though their film—the deceptively simple story of a fisherman who dreams of owning his own boat on the Meghna River in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan)—was filled with melancholy and comical touches, their depiction of a poor fishing community being shaken down by greedy loan sharks proved too incendiary. A presentation of the Nauman Taseer Foundation. DCP.