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     Volume 5 Issue 117 | October 20, 2006 |

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Bangladeshi Film
Calling a Spade a Spade

Rafi Hossain

Young, talented and promising director Nurul Alam Atiq has a host of critically acclaimed works such as Chothurto Matra, Cycle er Dana (tele-film), Chithi (drama-serial), Cinderella (drama) and Boro Bhuter Golpo (TV drama). In an interview with SWM, Nurul Alam Atiq gives an honest assessment of the quality of films being made in Bangladesh.

SWM: You have always been adamant about only making films, why the sudden interest in television production?
Nurul Alam Atiq

Nurul Alam Atiq (NAA): I have always been obsessed with working with cinema rather than with television, which is why there was a sort of stubborn mindset against working for television in particular since the very beginning. This is the main reason I kept from joining television work even though most of my contemporaries had already started working in television and were becoming successful as well. Television productions have certain technical limitations that film productions do not. To me nothing compares to the concept of watching cinema in a theatre! It is a larger than life experience that cannot be confined to a mere television set. The entire ambience of a theatre hall is something that cannot be in any way recreated at home. Film allows the creation of visual magic that is not possible to create on television. However, despite my favouritism for cinema, I have slowly developed a taste for television work as it has evolved from 'erased media' to a much wider, more enhanced platform in recent times.

It is amazing how the improvement of technology has reached a level where good quality work can be mass-produced via DVDs, etc.

SWM: Film production by television channels has become a recent trend in our country--is that one of the reasons for your interest in this field?

Jaya in a scene from the drama Jal.

NAA: Television channels have attempted to produce films in recent times but this attempt is more for the purpose of their own channels than to revive the dying state of Bangladeshi cinema. These film productions are neither a solution nor a substitute for that which has been lost in the past years. The recent trend of film-making through television channels has provided opportunities for many to try their hand at film-making. However, their practice of working in television media is ultimately reflected in the movies they produce. As a result of such a loose grip on film media, the films produced become more like television dramas. It is sad how very few can actually differentiate between the two media anymore. The situation is, however, completely different in countries like India. Their television dramas are inspired from cinema rather than the other way around.

SWM: Most people don't offer constructive criticism to others because it is considered offensive. It is rare even among friends. Why do you think it is like this in our country?

NAA: I would like to point out some constructive criticism regarding the present day situation of Bangladeshi cinema with all due respect to my fellow colleagues and respectable seniors. I personally think that it is very important to criticise one's work in order to improve the quality of the work and am open to any criticism of my own work. I believe that it is the best way to learn about and from my own mistakes.

SWM: Who's example do you want to start with?

A scene from the TV drama Baru Bhuter Golpo.

NAA: Firstly I would like to talk about Humayun Ahmed who happens to be a great personality of tremendous potential. He has contributed hugely to this nation in a way that no one else has. He is the main reason for such a drastic increase in the enthusiasm of reading Bangla books in recent years. To me, his ability to depict human emotions is unrivalled by any other writer of his time. I strongly believe that people of such magnitude are rarely born into this world and are truly inspirational. However, in my opinion, he is not at all a filmmaker. His films and his dramas nowadays are too repetitive and are a toll on the audiences' patience. I think the films adapted from his books would be much better made if directed by somebody other than himself.

SWM: What about the short film producers and directors, the people in your line of work?

NAA: Next I would like to mention some of the leaders of the Bangladeshi short film movement. Some very obvious names that come to mind are Tareq Masud, Tanvir Mokammel and Murshedul Islam, among others. It is because of these extraordinary personalities that we can even think of making unique forms of cinema today. Their movement is what initiated the culture of watching, analysing and differentiating between good cinema and bad cinema. However, when they tried their hand at filmmaking they failed to fit their own standards. Not only did the films fail financially, they failed to communicate with the audiences. It almost seems as though they failed to see what the audience want, resulting in serious miscommunication. However, regardless of all the flaws I just mentioned, I really liked Morshedul Islam's film Chaka, which I think is a very good movie. Tareq Masud, on the other hand, is one film-maker who has dedicated his youth to cinema and his liveliness is often reflected in his work. The filmmakers of this group tend to get too carried away by the effect that they want it to have--socially, politically or even religiously--rather than actually concentrating on making it a better, more detailed film.

SWM: Have you watched Molla Barir Bou?

NAA: I would also like to mention film makers like Salauddin Lablu, who in no way can be considered a filmmaker of acceptable standards. The films that he makes are only a better-packaged version of the cheap, third grade Bangladeshi films that most people think should be banned.

SWM: What about Joyjatra?

NAA: Other prospective filmmakers like Taukeer Ahmed, I think, have a good shot at directing films if they decide to quit acting to do so. The particular bathing scene by the river from his film Joyjatra was in my opinion very cinematically rich, but the film starts losing its weight once it reaches the point where the boat journey begins.

SWM: Tell us a little about your friend Mostafa Sarwar Farooqi's work.

NAA: Mostafa Sarwar Farooqi has managed to read his time well. His television drama "Prottaborton" was made with tremendously powerful cinematic approach. I really liked that particular work of his. This particular filmmaker really knows how to impress the audience and this factor always works in his favour. Even though his film Bachelor did very well financially--which goes to show that the audiences liked the film--his lack of experience in the field is what makes the film technically mediocre.

What I would finally like to say is that healthy entertainment is something that barely exists in today's world. It is a controversial term as certain people interpret and explain it in their own individual ways. There is no specific measuring scale of the term as it is the filmmaker's own social condition in life that is ultimately portrayed in their work.

SWM: So all this points to the fact that there are no good filmmakers in the country. Is that what you think?

NAA: I see many young talents and potential moviemakers all around me and it gives me hope of a better scope for Bangladeshi cinema in the future. Television media today is an extremely powerful media and has a lot of scope. Opportunities in this particular field are a lot brighter than they used to be even a decade ago, so one can only hope that these young talents will overcome all the flaws that exist in filmmaking at present.



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