Suchitra Sen Film Festival 2009
Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu
Suchitra remains one of those evergreen silver-screen beauties that enthrall generations of Bangla film lovers. Uttam-Suchitra is perhaps the most popular couple in the history of Bangla cinema. Although the older generation Bangladeshis have enjoyed her films since childhood in their numbers at movie theatres and public arenas - watching her movies, and her, in collective awe - the younger generation find themselves deprived of such opportunities.
And so, when public festival featuring Suchitra's films was organized in Pabna, it was almost a dream coming true for many. Thousands of people made up the audience which enjoyed the legendry films in the first ever 'Suchitra Sen Film Festival' organized here, the icon's ancestral hometown. Pabna district administration and the 'Suchitra Sen Smrity Parishad' jointly organized the festival, which started on the 23rd of October, 2009 at Pabna Town Hall and continued for a week.
The festival was organized to recall the legend and honor her. It was also organized to reinvigorate public interest in this iconic actress in her ancestral residence in Pabna. She lived here as a child, at her father's residence in village Gopalpur in Pabna town. Her ancestral residence has been occupied by men of the Jamaat and a school has been established there. “It is our first and foremost goal to re-introduce the legendary films of Suchitra Sen to the people of Pabna, especially the young generation. We feel proud that the legendry film artist Suchitra Sen is originally from Pabna. Unfortunately, the current generation is not as aware of her work and we are trying to uphold her image in Pabna,” said Md. Saidul Haque Chunnu, the secretary of the festival's organizing committee. He added that the festival will strengthen public demand for the restoration of her ancestral residence from the clutches of illegal occupiers. According to Chunnu, a museum or archive of Suchitra Sen should be established at her ancestral residence.
Sara Kabari, a noted film-artist of Bangladesh and a lawmaker, inaugurated the festival while a colourful rally was brought out in Pabna town marking the beginning of the festival. Thousands of people including fans, cultural activists and school students took part in the procession. A discussion meeting focusing the life and works of Suchitra Sen was held at Pabna Town Hall at the inauguration ceremony. The president of the organizing committee and also the Deputy Commissioner of Pabna, Dr. AFM Monjur Kadir, chaired the discussion meeting. Soovas Dutt, a well-known film director, spoke on the occasion as the chief guest. He said that Suchitra Sen is the pride of the film industry of the sub continent. “Suchitra Sen's films are so lively even today that the scenes seem like real parts of our lives. Her films are evergreen,” he added. During the inauguration of the festival, film-artist Sara Kabari demanded that Suchitra Sen's ancestral home be restored. She said, “Suchitra Sen is a legend. She is not only an inspiration for Pabna but for the whole of Bangladesh. We have to recover her ancestral residence from illegal occupation, and preserve it for generations to come.” Among others, Sabbir Ahmed, a film critic, Nibash Chandra Majhi, Pabna Police Superintendent, Md. Saidul Haque Chunnu, Secretary of the film festival's organizing committee and Advocate Shafiqul Islam Shibli spoke during the inauguration of the festival. After the inauguration, eight prominent films of Suchitra Sen were exhibited. 'Harano Sur' was the first film to be shown and the concluding film was 'Sagorika'. In the weeklong festival, 'Agni Parikhha', 'Dip Jele Jai', 'Shilpi', 'Sat Pake Bandha' and 'Shap Mochon' were also exhibited.
Suchitra Sen's original name is Krishna Dasgupta. She had started her academic career at 'Mohakali Pathshala' of Pabna town. Later she was admitted to Pabna Girls School (now known as Pabna Government Girl's High School), where she studied till class 9. Suchitra left Bangladesh with her family just before the partition in 1947. She performed in the Indian film 'Shesh Kothai' in 1952. This was her first film. She went on to act in 63 films, including 7 Hindi films, out of which, 32 films were with Uttam Kumar. The organizers of the festival, cultural activists and the people of the district said that the film festival was an effective way to revive the legend in Pabna.“Though it should have been organized earlier, the arrangement of Suchitra Sen Film Festival 2009 is definitely praiseworthy,” said Gopal Shannal, the president of Pabna Drama Circle. Various educationalists, cultural activists, progressive social workers and government officials spoke at specific days of the festival. The festival organizing committee had organized discussion meetings almost on all seven days of the festival.
A discussion meeting was organized at the closing ceremony on 30th October 2009. Advocate Samsul Haque Tuku, State Minister for Home Affairs, was the chief guest of the concluding ceremony and the ceremony was chaired by the Rajshahi Divisional Commissioner Hafizur Rahman Bhuiyan. Director General (DG) of Bangladesh Television Abu Jafar Mohammad Siddik was the special guest. The state minister said that Suchitra's ancestral residence is part of our heritage and it needs to be protected. Pabna Deputy Commissioner Dr. AFM Monjur Kadir, Professor Lutfonnesa Begum and Professor Md. Kamruzzaman spoke on the occasion as well.
The Suchitra Sen Film Festival is a commendable initiative will not only serve to reinvigorate interest in the achievements of this great artiste, but it will also help build bridges between the generations of Bangla film lovers. The organizers behind this initiative should be congratulated for their achievements, and also encouraged to continue and keep at it, as only through a sustaining their efforts will they be able to make the impact their efforts deserve. They say that the only real test of true greatness is time - Suchitra Sen has done her bit, the rest, perhaps is up to us.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009