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Our movie industry -The Asian Age


The Bangladesh film industry has been reasserting itself after years of decline and, one might add, neglect. The golden age of Bengali movies in Bangladesh, beginning in the late 1950s, reached a peak in the early-to-mid 1970s. 

In these fifteen or sixteen years, the film industry in Bangladesh ---or East Pakistan as it was known till the end of the country's War of Liberation in 1971 --- introduced generally themes of romance coupled with images of middle class life that invariably appealed to the audience. 

It was usual for families on weekends --- and that included children in their pre-teens and teens --- to troop down to cinema halls in cities and towns and come away with feelings of having identified with the stories and characters in the movies.

If in the 1960s, it was pure romance and family drama that underpinned Bangladesh's movies, the period following the emergence of the country through a nine-month guerrilla war was largely given over to themes of a political nature. 

The various aspects of the war --- politics, death, sufferings of women and children, rape, burning of villages, et cetera --- served as the themes of the movies.

The reinvention can be attributed to the emergence of what one may safely describe as New Cinema. Young directors like Mostafa Farooki have been experimenting with themes of social significance not attempted earlier.

Shameem Akhtar belongs in a class film-makers who have over the years popularized the concept of not merely art films but also movies which have dealt with specific political and spiritual themes. 

Tanveer Mokammel, with such productions as 'Chitra Nodir Paare' (On the banks of the River Chitra) and a biopic on Tajuddin Ahmad, Bangladesh's wartime prime minister, stands out for the rich quality of his movies. 

Shameem Akhtar and Tanveer Mokammel share space with such other movie-makers as Morshedul Islam. In relatively recent times, Shabnam Ferdousi has been a subject of discussion particularly in terms of her movie dealing with the war babies of 1972. She calls the movie 'Jonmoshathi' (Born Together), in which she deals with the idea of undertaking a search for twelve babies born on the same day as she was in January 1972. 

The twelve were all babies born of the molestation of Bengali women by Pakistani soldiers during Bangladesh's War of Liberation in 1971. The late Tareque Masud explored rather unconventional themes in his movies till his death in a road accident in 2011. His broad theme, however, remained the war of 1971.

All of this shows promise. Add to that the presence of good film clubs which have in recent years organized shows of Bangladesh's movies both at home and abroad to audiences keen on coming by information on the state of the country's film industry.