DHAKA: He is often credited with having triggered a new-wave cinema movement in Bangladesh.
Mostofa Sarwar Farooki leads a band of filmmakers who have moved away from the conventional format to `experiential` cinema that deals with real-life issues.
It is gradually changing the grammar of cinema and creating a new audience that can appreciate alternative films, according to Sarwar, whose film `Television` is being screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival.
The young, urban audience in Bangladesh is hungry for cinema that tells their stories, said Farooki, who started making films after dabbling in poetry and short story writing.
‘I tried my hand at films and found that I quite liked it. Now, I make films for I feel compelled to do it,’ said Farooki.
Starting off with telefilms, Farooki graduated to the big screen. By the time he did, more than half-a-dozen young film-makers - who learnt the ropes under him as assistant directors - were ready to direct independently.
Together, they kicked off the new-wave films.
‘It was television that made it possible. Like in India, TV has created a new audience that can appreciate mature films. So, the small screen has, in fact, triggered this movement.’
‘Today we have more than a dozen young film-makers who are making brilliant films that the viewers can relate to,’ he said.
`Television` is the story of a village in Bangladesh where people fight a fundamentalist diktat against watching TV.
As the local community leader forbids TV viewing, the decree leaves a profound impact on the lives of the ‘colourful, eccentric and emotional’ people living in the village.
They are even asked to stop imagining for it gives the mind a licence to infiltrate prohibited territory. Finally, it is the TV that helps the leader reach a transcendental state. The inspiration for the film came from his personal life, said Farooki.
‘My father was deeply influenced by an Islamic belief that images are sinful. One fine morning, he asked me to stop watching TV and removed all photographs from the walls.’
‘I would sneak into neighbours` homes to watch TV and often get caught. I argued with my father and tried to reason with him that this was not correct. He would refuse to appreciate my views and I would stick to my belief. Much of this tension gets reflected in the film,’ said Farooki.
The new-wave films, referred to as `Chhabial` in Bangladesh, has struck a cord with the young audience.
‘It could be due to the language that the characters speak or the narrative which is close to the poeple`s lives,’ felt Farooki.
Exposure to world cinema through TV has also educated the audience and prepared them for good, meaningful films, he added.
It was time, Farooki said, for India and Bangladesh to come together and open up their respective markets for Bengali films.
‘To survive, our films need a bigger market. I, for instance, would like to see my film being released simultaneously in Dhaka and Kolkata.’
‘For that to happen, we need to work out a mechanism that would be acceptable to all the stakeholders. Unfortunately, our governments are acting smart.’
‘They are not taking us into confidence. Unless they do that, we can`t have a bigger market which is essential,’ he said.
Source: The Times of India
BDST: 1849 HRS, NOV 16, 2013