Extraction, a Bangladeshi view

A good review of the film Extraction by a Bangladeshi. The author perceives a pro-Indian and anti-Bangladeshi bias, which I didn’t really see, but your mileage may vary. But this part is of interest to me:

Extraction carries all the elements of the racist Islamophobic mindset: Muslims cannot run the state, they have many children, their economy is a criminal shambles, their country is uninhabitable, their leaders are outlaws, there is no human dignity anywhere. The colours of this Bangladesh are as yellow as the desert. In contrast, the views of Mumbai are full of turquoise light – neat, beautiful, and luxurious. Mumbai’s mafia child is capable of love; Tyler too is mourning the death of his child. Even villainous Saju has a beautiful family. These spices create empathy towards cruel protagonists.

Extraction was not Islamophobic. In fact, extraction seems to exist in a world where religion does not exist. Too often cultural criticism “fits” art into preexistent analytic frames. Some of the elements of Extraction are perfectly aligned with well-known motifs. Chris Hemsworth is a “Mighty Whitey” par excellence. But a Western watcher of the film would have no idea that Indians are mostly Hindu and Bangladeshis are mostly Muslim, and in fact, a Western watcher would not even know that these are religious people.

If I had to make an analogy, the Bangladesh depicted in the film seems most like the 1990s gangster-dominated Russia, with the aesthetic of 1990s Mogadishu.

The fundamental problem with a lot of modern criticism and analysis is to the fallback upon common arguments and analytic structures, which add nothing familiar, and simply reinforce the familiar.

11 thoughts on “Extraction, a Bangladeshi view”

  1. I just watched extraction last night and as a Westerner (even one that understands these distinctions) the religious components were totally unimportant. (I even thought of Razib Khan! hahah)

    Like Slumdog Millionaire, the light in which one South Asian group is portrayed in contrast to another means almost nothing to Westerners because as Razib describes, the Western mindset isn’t tuned in to all these nuances.

    Actually, the depiction of South Asians was manlier and more hip than anything I’ve seen before.

  2. The BD and India scenes looked like generic poor urban South Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa; third world chaos. Nothing specifically Islamic about it (or Islamophobic).

    1. “third world chaos”
      Parts of Christopher Nolan’s new movie Tenet are shot in Mumbai. I’m eager to see how he shows the city. The trailer seems to have some cool aerial shots.

  3. I think this is the first Western feature that was not a documentary to have been shot in Dhaka.

  4. Have looking more deeply into sources psychological bias recently “when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail” is a common one.
    I guess this review was an example.
    Ironically my comment is also an example of the same bias since I have been reading about them.

  5. If one is looking for a more accurate representation of what the underworld of South Asia is like ( well mainly Bombay), Sacred Games Season 1 portrays it more accurately, touching upon religious tensions and all. Extraction combined several elements of the underworld across Africa, Asia, and South America and put it in Bangladesh. I’m pretty sure the drug lords in Bangladesh do not have child soldiers. Also, making Bangladesh look dry and using a yellow filter when it is actually such a lush and green country. I feel bad for Bangladeshis. This is probably the first time most people in the west have encountered the country and now this is the view they will have of the country and it’s people. Having visited Bangladesh a couple of times myself, I always found the people to be warm, the countryside beautiful, and the pride in their culture and language strong. Obviously none of this was shown in a movie where gangsters are throwing children off roofs for stealing minor items…

  6. Dhaka is where Mumbai was in the 90s (for the west) . Same dirt,slums, child labor contrasted with Grotesque Money (modern day Rajas living in Palaces), on other side of the city.

    Give it time, as BD becomes richer, Dhaka will be shown like how Mumbai is shown now. Of course then Dhaka will be then contrasted with some other poor city, maybe some Rohingya town in Burma.

  7. Not sure about this, Mexico is way richer than India and still portrayed like a backward dessert.

    Come to think of it maybe the Bangladesh drug lord stuff was inspired by India.

    1. * inspired by Mexico (not India). And how Mexico is portrayed esp. with regards to the drug cartels.

      It’s a very diverse country in terms of climate zones with rainforests and beaches. But is generally portrayed as desert and a sort of orange toned filter.

Comments are closed.

Brown Pundits