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Dare to Dream

The Star Magazine Desk, (on location in Cox's Bazaar)

On a wet, cloudy day in Cox's Bazaar the cast and crew of the film Jago struggle to fight the bad weather and stay on schedule, come rain or sun. Numerous umbrellas pop up as between the scenes, the actors playing the roles of the Azad Boys Football Club in Comilla run for cover and a man patiently touches up their make up. A group of crew members stretch a plastic sheet over the camera, as a sort of makeshift raincoat, eventually discarding it and getting a bigger umbrella. They are surrounded by washed up shampans, leaning this way and that, untouched by the crew members because 'they add value to the shot.' Wearing a green raincoat, the director and writer of the film, Khijir Hayat Khan, is standing to the side talking to a group of actors. His forgotten glass of tea, still in his hand, is watered down by the drops of rain falling in a drizzle all around him. As he finishes his pep-talk they start the shot. The boys dribble the football from one point of the abandoned beach in Inani to another, repeating the same motion almost half a dozen times as the cameraman films the shot in various different angles, until a disembodied voice cries out “cut” and the boys race for cover once again.

Shamim (Ferdous) and Maya (Bindu) share a light moment.

Jago, to be released on December 16, 2008, is the first film to be produced by Interspeed Production House. It is a story about a local small-town football club from Comilla -- their triumphs and their losses, their joys and sorrows, their inner and outer battles. It depicts the journey of the Azad Boys Football Club when they decide to challenge an international-standard team from a bordering country. The idea was first conceived by Khan about a year ago. Khan, a big fan of football, was inspired by both the story of the Shadhin Bangladesh Football team and by his three uncles who were freedom fighters during the Liberation War in 1971.

“I was trying to figure out how I could connect the spirit of 1971 and adapt it to modern-day times,” says Khan. “I wanted to bring about that same sense of passion and strength that our freedom fighters had then and put it into current context.”

This is Khan's second movie (his first being Osthithe Amar Desh released on March 26, 2007). However, the newcomer director was not always in the film industry. After graduating from Sylhet Cadet College in 1999, Khan studied economics in Hamlin College in Minnesota, USA. He worked for five-and-a-half years as a financial analyst and then came back to Bangladesh in 2006.

“I've always been passionate about both film and football so I just kept thinking, why not give my passion a shot,” says Khan. “And something told me to come home because it is always easier to take risks in your own country than in another.

Jago, to me, symbolises standing up for what you believe in and daring to dream, which is a personal philosophy of mine. I think what this film is trying to say to everyone is believe in yourself and realise that nothing is impossible as long as you have the spirit.”

Umama Nawroze Ittela is the film's Production Manager on behalf of Interspeed. Having worked in various organisations such as UNICEF and BCCP, she joined Interspeed in 2006. For her, Jago is not just a film about football.

Jago is all about different kinds of emotions, be it love, patriotism, passion, friendship,” says Ittela. “Hayat [Khan] was working on another project with Interspeed when he shared this idea with us and something about it clicked. The story was striking. As Interspeed has been wanting to make a film for the last year, we thought that this was the most appropriate type of film, where the storyline is about the typical underdog team trying to make it. What Interspeed is trying to do is make it so that people watch Bangla films, rather than always watching Hindi and English. Our music industry has managed to do this very successfully and so it is only a matter of time before our film industry does this as well. We are trying to create that stepping stone, and that is the spirit with which we are working on this project, not only providing financial backing, but also all sorts of other support needed in this film.”

Aside from having an impressive cast, including TV serial actor Tarek Anam, film actor Ferdous and actress Bindu, the film can also boast of having very talented behind-the-scene people working towards making this project a success such as Music Director Ornob, and Director of Photography Rashed Zaman.

Like Khan, Zaman's first calling was not in film. After finishing up at Mirzapur Cadet College, Zaman found himself studying architecture in Middle East Tech University (METU) in Turkey. After working as an architect he went to complete his Masters in architecture at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where, after two weeks time, he decided to go to film school, simultaneously working as a camera assistant for various short films and independent films in Hollywood. He came back to Bangladesh in February of 2007, wanting to do something in his own country, and has worked on various films and advertisements.

“What makes Jago so different is that there has never been a film on football filmed in this subcontinent,” says Zaman. “Films such as the Indian film, Goal, were filmed in the UK because there are too many technical barriers that come into play when shooting a film like this within the subcontinent. I suppose that is the challenge that I have to face, and make sure that it works.”

Jago is being shot in the HD (High Definition) format, rather than the standard 35mm format. Although many people prefer 35mm, Zaman says that there are advantages to both.

“They are two different forms of media and they both have their good points and bad,” says Zaman. “The advantage of HD is that you can shoot in low light and also, in bad weather, which is turning out to be good for us, since we are shooting during the rainy season. Also another thing is that with HD you can see the shots immediately. At the same time I would not say one is better than the other. I suppose it just depends on the situation and the person. It's like choosing to draw a picture with crayon or ink. The effect may be different but the overall end result will be good either way.”

The Azad Boys after a hard day of training.

Zaman is also affiliated with post production company Bioscopewala, which is trying to promote the use of digital technology in film. Also on the Jago bandwagon, the company provides services such as production equipment rental and post production which includes anything ranging from editing and colour correction to sound engineering. This is the Bioscopewala's first commercial film from the time they formed in 2007.

“We basically provide all kinds of technical support,” says Managing Director of Bioscopewala, Mushfiq Rahman, also recently returned from the US, where he worked in IT for eight-and-a-half years before coming back to Bangladesh and starting this company with Zaman and a few other friends

Jago for us is something different. It does not fit the mould of the usual films that come out in Bangladesh. Instead this is about loving the country and having the confidence to make the impossible possible. I think that is what drew us to the film. Having Interspeed backing it up gave us the confidence that we needed to get involved with the film as well.”

One thing is for sure – Jago has the potential to strike a chord in many people. Be it for the sole reason of supporting the underdogs, of believing in one's own country, in wanting to do what cannot be done, or even, to find redemption after all else seems lost, the story of Jago is, while not a new one, inspiring all the same.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008