Vol. 5 Num 1057 Wed. May 23, 2007  

"Our young generation is least interested in Dhaliwood"
-- Sohanoor Rahman Sohan

Sohanoor Rahman Sohan is one of the very few film directors who are continuing making quality movies in the contemporary Dhaliwood film industry. With a few exceptions most of the 28 films directed by him are romantic ones. Of these, movies such as Keyamat Thekey Keyamat, Shojon, Amar Ghar Amar Behesht and Shanti Chai have become blockbusters.

Why is he inclined to romantic movies? Sohan's response: "In the current social scenario, we see violence everywhere. I want to provide the mass with some relief. Which is why my preferred theme is romance. I usually make entertaining films with family values. But, I've also made action films."

Sohan began his career in 1977 as an assistant to renowned filmmaker Shibly Sadick. As an independent filmmaker Sohan's debut film was Biswas Abiswas (1988). His popularity surged with the hit film Keyamat Thekey Keyamat (a remake of the Indian blockbuster Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak). At the initial stage of his career Sohan used to make three films every year on an average. But these days he does not make that many films.

Why? Replies Sohan, "Dhaliwood film industry is now run by some illiterate people, who are here to make a few quick bucks and don't mind providing cheap entertainment to the audience. Our mainstream movie industry has become difficult for directors who have any aesthetic sense. It's true that a few independent filmmakers are continuing their endeavour to make sensible movies, however, their target audience is not the masses. Most of them make films to participate in the international film festivals. We can safely say that the mainstream movie industry in Bangladesh is now stagnant."

Like many of his contemporaries, Sohan accuses the ongoing trend of vulgarity and lack of fund as major causes behind the decline in our movie industry. According to him, these days, it has become difficult to make a 20 percent profit with "decent" movies, which used to be a cent percent profitable industry at one point.

Elected general secretary of Bangladesh Film Directors' Association twice, Sohan, is the current vice president of the organisation. The filmmaker says, "We have taken several steps against vulgar movies including public protests. Even the government has enacted stronger laws regarding the issue. However, these laws are not properly implemented because of certain officials of questionable integrity in Bangladesh Censor Board.

"Bangladeshi filmdom has come to earn such an ill repute that young talents are not at all interested in Dhaliwood. Once, people used to call me a 'moulder of new talents', as many prominent actors of today including Salman Shah, Moushumi, Ferdaus, Poppy and Shakil Khan were introduced to the audience through my films. I rarely come across young talented actors nowadays, as they are interested in TV plays, rather than films."

But, the famed director is optimistic. He thinks that it is a challenge to filmmakers, actors and other individuals deeply involved with the industry to do something positive and restore the good name of Dhaliwood. Sohanoor Rahman Sohan believes that the ongoing trend of corruption in two institutions -- Film Development Corporation (FDC) and Bangladesh Censor Board -- must be controlled. Secondly, skilled technicians must be utilised in FDC. Piracy in the market (illegally copied DVDs and VCDs) must be stopped.

To quote Sohan, "Because of the shortage of fully functional movie theatres, the urban middle-class has stopped going to movies. Moreover, pirated CDs of movies are available in the market. When people buy these CDs and watch them at home, our film producers are deprived of royalty and the existence of our movie theatres are further threatened."

Sohanoor Rahman Sohan