Vol. 5 Num 928 Mon. January 08, 2007  

In Conversation
Badal Rahman: A clarion call for children's entertainment

There are few sources of entertainment for children in Bangladesh. Badal Rahman stands apart as the name behind the first Bangladeshi movie on children, titled Emili-er Goyenda Bahini.

Badal continues to make children's films and TV plays. Talking about his latest endeavour, Badal asserts that he is making a TV serial for Channel 1 named Abak Pancher Kando, which features the adventures of four children and a dog. The TV serial is an adaptation of British children's author Enid Mary Blyton's popular series Famous Five.

Badal says, "I'll present Blyton's adventure series in the Bangladeshi context. Four kids and a dog in Abak Pancher Kando will unveil several stories of corruption."

How does he feel working in tandem with child actors? "It's both entertaining and challenging, " continues Badal, "Children have an intrinsic flair for acting. I enjoy working with them. But it's really difficult to control the kids during shooting."

Badal has been working with child actors since he was a BTV producer (1968-76). He says, "As a BTV producer I used to make programmes slanted to entertain children. Selim Al Deen and Al Mansur were my assistants who used do the scripting."

In 1973 Badal was awarded a scholarship on filmmaking (1973-76) in Pune, India. Before going there Badal decided to make Emili-er Goyenda Bahini. He said, "Al Mansur gave a translation of German children's author Erich Kästner's (1899-1974) novel Emil and the Detectives (1929) titled Emili-er Goyenda Bahini. During my stay in Pune I got chance to watch children's film classics from around the world. In those days I began scripting of Emili-er Goyenda Bahini. Returning to Bangladesh I submitted the script for a government grant in 1978."

After the release of the movie in 1981, it got many national awards including best movie of the year. Badal got two awards-- best director and editor. Golam Mostafa and child actor Tiptip got the best actor awards. Alam Khan won an award for the best music composer of the year."

After the huge success of the movie, Badal made two more children's movies-- Kanthal Burir Bagan and Chhana O Muktijuddha. Both of the movies were funded by Bangladesh Shishu Academy. However, Chhana O Muktijuddha is yet to be released.

The question is why not more films? Badal says, " Emili-er Goyenda Bahini is considered one of the best movies in Bangladesh. But, it's not a box office hit amongst so many commercial movies. It ran only in a few theatres simultaneously. That's why I believe the producers did not approach me. Moreover, the quality of the movie industry has declined from the 1980s. As a result I shifted to making documentaries."

So far Badal has made over 50 documentaries for government and non-government organisations. Of these Self Portrait: Bangladesh and It's for Your Asking, basically are promotional films on Bangladesh and its export commodities, which were screened abroad.

Badal thinks that the need of the hour is a greater output of children's movies. Towards this end he seeks greater government patronage.