Film Maker & Author


Jul 23rd

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The Sister (Rabeya)

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The film is a deconstruction of Sophocles's play "Antigone" placed on the backdrop of the war between Bangladesh and Pakistan in 1971.

During Bangladesh's liberation war against Pakistan in 1971, in a remote village Rabeya and Rokeya, two orphan young sisters lived in the religiously conservative household of their uncle Emdad Kazi, a rich kulak and a local Muslim League leader. During the war, for his political ambition, Emdad Kazi collaborated with the marauding Pakistan army. Khaled, the only brother of the two sisters, joined the Bengalee resistance guerillas to fight against the Pakistan army. During a guerilla operation Khaled was killed in a skirmish. The Pakistani captain ordered that the dead body of this young guerilla should not be buried. It had to be kept on the embankment beside the river as a display to scare off the villagers so that nobody dared to oppose the army anymore. Nobody dared to bury Khaled's dead body. One night Rabeya, the sister, secretly proceeded to bury her brother. Rabeya was shot and killed. The villagers rose up. The Bengalee guerillas won the final battle and declared Rabeya as a martyr.


Bostrobalikara (Garment girls of Bangladesh)

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If you have jeans and t-shirts in your wardrobe, chances are some of them were made in Bangladesh. Indeed Bangladesh is now a major player in the global clothing trade. Starting from scratch in the early 70s it is now a multi-billion dollar business. It employs around 2 million people— 85 percent of whom are women. In total, up to ten million livelihoods depend on this industry.
This phenomenal rise came about because of the protection afforded by the Multi-Fibre Agreemnt of 1974. Basically that allowed new producing countries to come into the scene and excluded the "old" producing countries. In terms of hard currency, the industry is now Bangladesh's most important one bringing in around 76 percent of the country's total export earnings.
But the story is not all rosy. There have been about three thousand deaths in garment factories through fires and collapsed buildings. Wages are the lowest of any textile producing country, and workers have a long list of complaints besides wages, health and safety.
In May and June of 2006 worker frustration resulted in serious rioting and the destruction of property. Some people were killed. Bangladesh Rifles were deployed. It was a wake up call for this industry.
Consumers in the West are also waking up and consciousness around the issue of "sweatshops" is much greater. There is pressure on the retailers to engage in what is called "ethical trading"— a demand for buyers to ensure the factories they source from are compliant with the national and international labour codes.
Bengal once had a vibrant and renowned textile industry in the 17th and 18th centuries. Now that it has again risen, is it prepared to sustain itself in the future and to face the many challenges international trade poses?


Quite Flows the River Chitra (Chitra Nadir Pare)

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After the partition of India in 1947, Shashikanta's family, like millions of other Hindu families of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), faced the dilemma whether to migrate from the land in which they have been living for centuries. But Shashikanta Sengupta, an eccentric lawyer, stubborntly refuses to leave his motherland. Widower Shashikanta has two children, Minoti and Bidyut. Anuprava Devi is an affectionate old aunt who lives with the family. The family has a house in Narail, a small provincial town on the bank of the Chitra river. Some Muslim neighbours eye Shashaikanta's house. But the family refuse to migrate.
Shashikanta's children Minoti and Bidyut are friends with the neighbouring Muslim children— Badal, Salma and Nazma. Minoti and Badal become more than friends.
The children grow up. Badal goes to Dhaka University. Those were the days in 1960s when the atmosphere of the universities was charged with political radicalism. Badal got involved in anti-military student movement and while participating in a demonstration for democracy was killed by police firing.
Shashikanta's brother Nidhukanta is an idealist doctor who lives in their ancestral village on the other side of the Chitra River. During the 1964 riot between the Hindus and the Muslims, his daughter Basanti, a widow, is raped. Basanti commits suicide by drowning herself in the Chitra River. Nidhukanta's family migrate to India.
All these untoward incidents happening around affect Shashikanta's failing health. He suffers a heart stroke and passes away. Minoti and Anuprava finally leave for the border en route to Calcutta.
* The film received seven national awards including the best film and the best director of the year 1999. Other awards were best Story, best Script, best Art-Director, best Side Actress and best Make-up Man. Shown in London, Oslo, Fribourg (Switzerland), Singapore, Delhi, Calcutta and Trivandrum film festivals.


Teardrops of Karnaphuli (Karnaphulir Kanna)

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Comprised of three districts of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachari, Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is situated in the south-east of Bangladesh bordering Myanmar and India with an area 5,093 square miles. Twelve ethnic groups i.e. Chakma, Marma, Chak, Tanchangya, Tripura, Bom, Pankhu, Mrung, Lushai, Kheyang, Mru and Khumi live here who together like to be known as the "Jumma" people. The Chakmas, Marmas, Tanchangyas and Chaks, the vast majority of the Hill people, are Buddhist in religion.

The first crisis in the peaceful life of the Chittagong Hill Tracts took place in 1959-1962, when as part of the Kaptai hydro-electric project, a dam was constructed on the Karnaphuli river and the artificial Kaptai lake was created. 54,000 acres of arable land submerged and about one hundred thousand people were evicted.

Another severe crisis took place in the lives of the hill people when, since 1979, the Bangladesh government, by its own initiative, began to bring plain land Bengalees from outside and settled them in an artificial manner in the CHT. After two decades of armed conflict a peace accord was signed in 1997 between the Bangladesh government and the Shantibahani the armed wing of the PCJSS, the political organization of the Hill people. But many clauses of the peace accord have not yet been implemented.

Though having resources and having immense possibilities, not much development has taken place in CHT. The region has still remained as the most backward area of the impoverished Bangladesh. The Chittagong Hill Tracts remains as a sad example what happens to a people and a region if kept outside the main "national" sphere.



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Lalon Fakir (? -- 1890), a doyen among the Baul-Fakirs of Bengal, composed few hundred songs of profound depth and an excellent sense of music. Buddhist Tantricism, Hindu Vaisnavism and Islamic Sufism all have their shares of influence on Lalon. Throughout the decades Lalon's songs, depicting asceticism and transience of life, have expressed the pathos and pangs of the caste-ridden subaltern rural populace of Bengal. Lalon's secular ideas and enchanting lyrics left deep influence on the subsequent generations of the different trends of Baul-Fakirs of Bangladesh and India. Though Lalon died only a hundred years ago yet not much details of his life is clearly known and some aspects are still shrouded in mystery. By portraying the milieu of Lalon who was a kind of a Guru during his life-time, the film aims to catch the social ethos of his period. Some historical personalities, who were prominent in the cultural history of Bengal of that time and came in touch with Lalon, like Jyotirindranath Tagore, Kangal Harinath and Mir Mosharraf Hossain, also figure in the film. The film tries to portray Lalon's life, persona and ideas mainly through the lyrics of his songs.

* Shown in the Fukuoka (Japan), London film festivals and in the competitive section of Goa (India) and Dhaka international film festivals.

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