month of March is here. Another Independence Day is at our doors,
signifying yet another year passed away since that fateful night in
1971. Every year, this whole month is celebrated through seminars,
speeches and TV programs. Newspapers bring out special editions. A
very common topic of these speeches and articles happens to be just
how far we have strayed from the dream our ancestors had when Bangladesh
tells us of how we have wronged them, how we have no future and are
going nowhere. While a lot of these allegations are true, since when
has brooding too much on the negative ever helped? So today, I would
like to highlight a few, yes just a few things that I think we should
be proud of as a nation.
since our country first came into being, we have been sort of looked
down upon. The honorable (?) Dr. Kissinger labeled us "a bottomless
basket" when it comes to taking foreign aid. Our Muslim brothers
from Pakistan considered us to be more "qafirs" than not.
Even our good friend India has often not been very nice to us. Probably
the best example of this prejudice is in the very way most Europeans
pronounce the name of our country. They can pronounce all sorts of
weird words, but they just cannot do any better than "Beng-laa-Desh".
me; it has nothing to do with the accent. At least one French-educated,
American Immigrant Professor I know could pronounce "Bangladesh"
after asking me just once how it should be pronounced. Anyway, what
I want to say is, they can pronounce it, and these days, they do.
They can no longer pretend to have never even heard of us. Why? Because
of our cricket team. Our team is touring the world, playing their
heart out on the field and recently, winning. Now no one can ask,
"Beng-laa-Desh? Isn't that a state of India?" Bravo to our
cricket team for getting us this recognition!
it comes to worldwide recognition, there is another achievement that
we can be proud of. Our army is serving in several countries all over
the world as part of the UN Peace Force. It is heart-warming to think
that our army is performing the same duties in countries like East
Timor that we once had to obtain from other countries. Everyone agrees
on the skill and dedication of officers of the Bangladesh Army, and
even when the worst happens, and our brave brothers are caught in
harm's way, they are given a hero's funeral. We are proud of them,
because they stood on guard for those too weak to guard themselves.
After all, is that not one of the primary goals of any army?
on to less serious matters, this last year we won the Emmy awards.
When the name of "Amrao Pari" was first announced among
the nominees, it seemed like enough. But one fine morning, when I
woke up and heard that we had won the award, it felt so great. I have
never been very interested about entertainment matters, but this was
different. I did not know much about the documentary that won the
award, or the people behind it. All I knew was this was another feather
in our hat, reason enough to celebrate and pray for all those whose
hard work resulted in the award-winning documentary.
of hard-working men, four years ago two renowned University Professors
and an enthusiastic reporter started an effort to get more students
interested in the "boring" subject of math. It was called
"Neuron-ey Anuronon", a math puzzle column different from
the more conventional ones. They never disclosed the answers, and
all those who could solve a certain number of the problems were given
certificates. Slowly, they began arranging real contests. In time,
the two professors, Dr Kaykobad and Dr Zafar Iqbal, applied to the
International Math Olympiad (IMO) for membership.
we were given a half-membership. We had inspectors from IMO come over
to witness some of the contests that were held all over the country.
Anywhere there was a school, a contest was held. Prothom Alo, Dutch
Bangla Bank, and teachers of the country managed to find out hidden
talents that would otherwise have never been found, and gave them
a chance to compete with peers all over the country. IMO found this
so very impressive that the very next year, we were given full membership.
the next international contest, the red and green flag will fly high.
Who knows, our math wizards might even perform some miracle. Here
is to hoping that they make us even more proud and represent our glorious
land with the best that they can.
are some of the more important things that come to mind. However,
this list is by no means exhaustive. For example, I have hardly had
a chance to mention the slow but steady developments we have managed
to maintain in the sector of female rights.
has become a very big issue, urging a lot of people to go for CNG
driven vehicles rather than petrol-driven ones. While the streets
of Dhaka are still far from safe, at least the air seems a bit cleaner
these days. All of these developments have only been possible because
in all sectors, there have been some people who have held on to their
dreams no matter what obstacles they had to face. What we have achieved
has not been handed down to us by anyone. Someone, somewhere, has
worked hard for it.
every generation, there will always be people who will dream, and
then make that dream come true. Here is hoping that such people are
always around, and that we always have the heart to help them in any
way that we can.
Photo: Star Archive
CINEPLEX OF BROKEN DREAMS?
Quazi Zulquarnain Islam
the STAR CINEPLEX, at the Bashundhara City in Panthapath, finally
opened its gates late last year, it heralded the beginning of a new
era in Bangladeshi culture, as far as the youth were concerned.
term 'going to the movies' had before that been alien to us entertainment
starved Dhaka people. As far as the entrepreneurs of our country were
concerned, 'entertainment' was solely concentrated in the food department.
Fast food outlets mushroomed in every conceivable street corner and
with that came the inevitable bulging stomachs and obesity.
inauguration of the STAR CINEPLEX therefore came like a breath of
fresh air. For once people could afford to dream. At least now, love-lorn
couples would have a place to hang out in peace, families would have
a place to visit at weekends and friends could just go somewhere chew
popcorn and just 'chill out' as the saying goes. It was a time of
fun, excitement and anticipation.
were abound. Rumours spread like wildfire, one more atrocious than
the other. Some spoke of multi-million dollar Fox and Warner Bros.
Contracts. Others spoke of less but similarly unachievable goals.
The public were eagerly awaiting the opening- at least that would
put an end to the months of speculation and settle the rumours.
STAR CINEPLEX finally did open its gates it was a grandiose affair.
The theatres were first-rate and highly impressive, the seating inside
the halls were excellent, the architecture as good as any in South
East Asia. The people in STAR CINEPLEX opened with a bang showing
at that time the recently released blockbuster summer flick "Spiderman
went down well with the crowd. The quality was excellent, the sound
effects magnificent. At the Premiere show STAR CINEPLEX also arranged
for its very own 'Spiderman' who came on stage before the show and
showed us some acrobatic moves. The public went home wooed and expecting
great things in the future. According to everyone, now there was only
one direction for STAR CINEPLEX to move in, and that was up. Right?
so often happens in our country, impressive beginnings in no way guarantee
future success. Most fail to realise that longevity through proper
maintenance is the key and if, in order to do that we have to sacrifice
flair, so be it.
its lofty beginnings, the STAR CINEPLEX dropped into increasing mediocrity.
The big budget latest Hollywood films that everyone was hoping for
never materialised. 'Spiderman' gave way to older more established
films. Amongst English films, Spiderman was replaced by the very mediocre
Hollywood flick "Walking Tall." After that came the romantic
comedy "50 First Dates" which in turn was followed by the
Tom Cruise film "Collateral."
was during that time that rumours of discontent first began to circulate.
Most people were of the opinion that STAR CINEPLEX was more interested
in earning their revenue using movies that already had an established
fan base. As poor as "Walking Tall" was, the appearance
of WWE superstar 'The Rock' doubtless guaranteed near full houses
for a while. And as good as '50 First Dates' was, many felt that STAR
was cashing in on the already solid reputation of the film and its
stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.
at it from their perspective it could be called shrewd marketing strategy.
But the promise of good new films still remained an unfulfilled dream.
By the time '50 First Dates' hit the theatre most people already had
readily available DVD copies of the film and were thus reluctant to
go and watch it in theatres.
In their defence,
STAR CINEPLEX has said that they feel only 'action' and 'family' movies
can be showcased in our country. They complained of stringent regulations
and tough censor board laws that need to be passed before they can
achieve their goals of bringing in mainstream Hollywood blockbusters.
Many the say, fail to make the grade.
At the moment
STAR CINEPLEX is currently running its 'Action Special,' a fortnight
where good action films of the past are to be shown. Choices for the
public include "Braveheart', 'Charlies Angles', 'The Mask of
Zorro' and 'Face/Off.' Also running side by side is the 'Shanti' and
A fleeting glance
at the choice of films is enough to prove my point. "Charlies
Angles" is old. Braveheart, Zorro and Face Off are positively
ancient. The simple question remains. Why would people pay so much
to go and see films that they already have of DVD? Some of the films
are so old, that even satellite TV channel Star Movies and HBO, are
already airing them. The people at STAR CINEPLEX say that this is
due to the fact that according to their market research they had found
out that people were interested to come and watch films, which had
exceptional sound quality be it old or new.
But if that argument
holds true then are we to believe that there would be a low turnout
for films like "Million Dollar Baby", "The Aviator",
"Cellular" "National Treasure" or "Oceans
Twelve"? I would think not and plus I do not think any of these
movies would be inadmissible even in view of the quite ludicrous censor
laws that we have.
It seems that
the people at STAR CINEPLEX are almost afraid to gamble. They seem
content to play the waiting game and see how specific movies capture
the Bangladeshi market before launching it in theatres. But if this
is really the case then most of us would do well to give up the dream
of even experiencing latest movies at theatres- a thing that our counterparts
in India and Thailand take almost for granted.
commendable thing that the people of STAR CINEPLEX have done is to
keep airing good Bangla movies. Starting with the ever popular "Bachelor'
they have continued the trend and are very soon going to air the internationally
renowned " Wrong Number." Also they have initiated a student
discount project by which students of universities and colleges can
earn discount on tickets of up to 30% if they have valid ID cards.
Plaudits to them for that.
All in all though,
the spotlight is firmly on STAR CINEPLEX and if they are to realise
the early promise that they showed, than the first thing that needs
to be done is to take a gamble on new Hollywood films. At least then,
they will be able to say that they tried their level best. From my
part and many others, I am sure that they are not going to be disappointed.
For those of you
who are interested STAR CINEPLEX has recently launched their very
own website www.cineplexbd.com