Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, August 7, 2008

By Shuprova Tasneem and Adnan M. S. Fakir

About a year ago, a couple of kids had a flickering bulb light up over their heads, and they decided that since most of us have very little knowledge or even an idea about much of our country's aspect, it was high time to educate themselves and everyone around them about the historical places of Bangladesh. Unlike most kids of our age who spontaneously come up with bright ideas and almost always fail to follow through with it, this stewed and fermented in their brains until a simple 60 watt bulb soon turned into humongous stadium lights, finally leading to the production of the first part of a three part documentary series, aptly named “Finding Bangladesh.”

To be precise, the inspiration for the documentary was a survey carried out by the RS folk, where the results indicated that the concepts of our generation regarding Bangladesh's history, and our own roots, were simply disgraceful. As sad as it is to admit this, it showed that there still are people among us who aren't really sure what 26th March actually is, let alone dig into the mesmerizing world of our ancients. In light of this issue, with Adnan M. S. Fakir as the director, a team of questionably experienced teenagers got together and started working on the first episode of Finding Bangladesh, and ended up naming themselves, “Scratch Films”, a group starting entirely from scratch.

The first chapter of the series covers sites scattered across the Dhaka and Rajshahi divisions, in an effort to give our generation an idea about the beautiful yet constantly ignored relics of our nation. More often than not, these relics are literally hiding in plain view, right under our noses.

From the Dhaka division, Ahsan Manzil, Lalbagh Kella, Dhakeswari Temple, Star Mosque and Sonargaon (Bara Sardar bari, Panam City and Sonakanda Fort) were covered, while Ramshagor Dighi, Kantajee's Temple, Ksumba Mosque, Paharpur, Mohasthangarh and the village of Puthia from the Rajshahi division.

The main purpose of the film is to spread awareness among the youths, and show that terrible traffic conditions, weak leaders, and poverty in all shapes and sizes are not quite the highlighting factors of Bangladesh. We have a rich heritage that we should be proud about, terrific mysteries of man and monster, majestic monuments and wonders that only add to our accomplishments as an ancient civilization.

You're probably wondering right now, why on Earth would you actually want to watch a documentary, when you are pretty sure it will put you to sleep? Well… That's one reason - sleep's hard to come by these days in this heat. But, anyway, yes, documentaries do tend to have a notorious reputation for droning on and on about “things” and “stuffs” that we can never put our minds around. However, Scratch Films has made sure that no such profanity occurs. Literary devices such as modern-day humor, funny comics, extreme 'bhab' visual effects, jokes thrown here and there and a copious amount of life were used to make it a lot more interesting. The style is also uniquely different, giving us information as well as telling us stories of myth and wonder. Did you know that we happen to be descended from people who killed giant river monsters, fought epic battles, wielded magic, harbored the first university of monks in the region, and hailed messiahs who rode around on the backs of fish and dug lakes that never dry?

The personal touch of the film really adds to the appeal, where a couple of teenagers take you on an exciting journey on the almost nearly famous boat on wheels (aptly named, the Damzel in Distress), opening your eyes to the lavish laziness of the Mughals and our government's absurd obsession with the color pink, while zooming past the ruins of a former-port city called Sonargaon, and ultimately tracing our history back to 700 BC.

That's not all, though - the documentary will give you an insight on ancient civilizations while peeking into our magnificent yet ever eroding neglected temples and lost lands, while revealing to you myths and legends that were told aplenty only once upon a time and which most of us are now quite unaware of.

The team at Scratch films has put in a lot of effort and creativity into this venture. So much so, that it's often led to extremely long hours of work, exceedingly large amounts of hair loss ( literally, in one's particular case), screaming, fighting, drowning and even bloodshed (honest!). But in the span of 10 months, they were able to put together an 80 minute documentary film, which is no mean feat.

Chapter 1: Dhaka & Rajshahi Divisions of the Finding Bangladesh documentary film will be inaugurated at the Westin Dhaka Ball Room on the 9th of August at exactly 2:30 pm, and DVDs will also be produced and distributed by Fahim Music in stores over Dhaka. So, if you are willing to attend the inauguration, please immediately mail at not.your.itch@gmail.com with your name and contact number and/or call Adnan Fakir at 01712544945 (Mohakhali), Nabila Idris at 01713000707 (Dhanmondi), or Shahriar Shamim Emil at 01556446886 (Gulshan) for the invitation card. Keep in mind that seats are limited!

Scratch Films has done a great job in tracing back our footsteps, and the effort to spread awareness among our generation about our history is very commendable; so if you want to know more about your heritage and get acquainted with your roots, tell all your friends, and definitely don't miss out! Be sure to grab a copy once it is out!



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