All posts filed under: Bangladeshi Cinema

LIVE FROM DHAKA (Dir. Abdul Mohammad Saad, 2016, Bangladesh)

Director Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s glum and intensely claustrophobic urban story could essentially work as a science fiction piece. The suffering, maladroit Sazzad (Tanvir Ahmed) floats through the glistening and ruinous monochrome cityscapes of Dhaka trying vapidly to make sense of his alien surroundings. Inexorably Sazzad wants to escape the convulsing grip of an overpopulated, frenzied city but it seems a bodily decomposition and sickness has set in, symbolically manifested as a disability. Bursting with psychosomatic angsts, Sazzad is also feral, suspicious of his girlfriend and apathetic towards his drug-addicted brother. What impresses about this debut feature is the amplification of Dhaka as an excoriating tinderbox of protests and disaffection that gradually swallows up Sazzad until he bursts. The gestalt to this work smacks of something genuinely bravura from Bangladeshi cinema, a Promethean voice that is not singular but points to an exciting, emergent new wave of films and filmmakers. Advertisements

JAGO HUA SAVERA / THE DAY SHALL DAWN (India/Pakistan/Bangladesh, 1959, Dir. A. J. Kardar) – The Cosmopolitan Intersections of South Asian Neorealism

“This is the path of the spirit paved with thorns and stones. This is man’s shadow. This is night. But morning will come…” – Khalil Gibran Gibran’s poetic words point to a cycle of endurance, a battle to survive. This quote from Gibran is juxtaposed over the image of fishing boats at night, navigating the dark waters so to eek out a living, to sustain a village in which fishing is the lifeblood. The recently unearthed Jago Hua Savera (The Day Shall Dawn, 1959) seems to be yet another reason why South Asian cinema’s intersections with neorealism remain somewhat irresolute. Most conversations regarding Indian neorealism tend to centre on two films – Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin (1953) and Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955). Both of these films, directed by Bengali filmmakers, show a debt to Italian neorealism and De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948). Although Ghatak’s work could be tentatively argued in terms of a neorealist aesthetic, his style was more eclectic, hybridised and fragmented. Arguably, Nagarik (1952) is possibly the film with the most salient …


Bangladeshi cinema is a major blind spot for me so I when I stumbled upon the films of contemporary filmmaker Mostofa S. Farooki I was determined to find out more. Festivalscope presently has three films by Farooki available to watch. Many of his films are on YouTube minus English subtitles. Unsurprisingly none of Farooki’s films have been distributed officially in the UK. Some context is necessary here about the Bangladeshi film industry. In an interview for Screen Daily (2012) with Liz Shackleton, Farooki says Bangladesh produces on average 40 films, ‘most are really bad Bollywood copies’, reiterating yet again the hegemonic footprint of populist Hindi cinema on regional output and neighbouring countries. This figure seems low for a country with a sizable youth population. It was the introduction of satellite TV in 1999 that Farooki contends led to ‘aspiring young filmmakers’ to make ‘short telefilms on digital for really low budgets’. Farooki has been the most high profile and most outspoken of this new generation of Bangladeshi filmmakers. The Bangladeshi film industry seems to be …