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Saturday, December 6, 2008
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A deconstruction of Antigone, set in 1971

Premier of Tanvir Mokammel’s Rabeya

Bannya Mirza as Rabeya. and Aly Zaker (left) and co-actors in the film.

Director of acclaimed films like "Chitra Nadir Parey" (1998), "Lalshalu" (2001) and "Lalon" (2004), Tanvir Mokammel premiered his latest feature film "Rabeya" yesterday at the Balaka movie theatre. Set against the backdrop of Liberation War, "Rabeya" is one of the three films that received a government grant this year. According to the director, the film is a "deconstruction" of Sophocles' "Antigone."

Jamil Osman, secretary to the Information Ministry, was the chief guest at the premier. Managing Director of BFDC (Bangladesh Film Development Corporation), A.N.M. Badrul Amin, and Iftekharul Alam were the special guests at the programme.

"I'm delighted that the process of conferring grants for films which was discontinued for a while, has resumed again, and quite successfully so. The premiere of ‘Rabeya’ gives us hope. The spirit of Liberation War is something we must hold on to; this film is an attempt towards that intention," the chief guest said.

"I read 'Antigone' when I was a student, and was moved by the courage of a sister who, against all institutional forces, was determined to bury her dead brother. Indeed, to honour the dead is a sacred custom, which is followed by all. But in 1971, the Pakistani military and their Bengali collaborators denied this right to many; corpses were left by the river, ponds or at open fields during the war in a devastated country. My film is dedicated to the memory of the martyrs who didn't even get buried properly," the director shared his thoughts on the film.

The film starts dramatically with some 'razakars' declaring that anyone making an attempt to bury the corpse of an "Indian agent" and "terrorist" killed by the "patriotic" Pakistani army will be shot dead. Despite the looming risk of getting caught, a young woman comes out at night and tries to cover the dead with a shroud, lights incense, places flowers and desperately tries to dig a grave. The woman's name is Rabeya, and the corpse is of her brother, Khaled -- a member of the guerrilla group fighting against the Pakistani army.

Rabeya's uncle Emdad Kazi is the chairman of the village and supports the Pakistani army to ensure his gains. While no one in the village dares to do what's right, Rabeya stands alone against this powerful man who does not hesitate to use even religion to serve his purpose. After several unsuccessful attempts, Rabeya alone continues trying to bury her brother and in the process gets shot and killed. This wakes up the sleeping conscience of the villagers. The Bengali guerrillas win the final battle and declare Rabeya a martyr.

The cast of the film includes Bannya Mirza (as Rabeya), Aly Zaker (as Emdad Kazi), Tauquir Ahmed (the intellectually challenged son of Emdad Kazi,) Arman Parvez Murad (Tarikul, Rabeya's fiance) and Jyotika Jyoti (Rabeya's sister Rokeya). Abul Hayat, Chitralekha Guha, Uttam Guha, Bhaswar Bandopadhyay donned some brief but important roles. Anwar Hossain's noteworthy cinematography added depth to the film. "Rabeya" has been produced by Kino-Eye Films.

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