Mostofa Sarwar Farooki is considered to have found a new language of filmmaking in Bangladesh, which is tailormade for the country’s culture and aesthetics. Setting aside the formula of copying Bollywood blockbusters and imitating Bengali Art House cinema, Farooki’s Third Person Singular, Television and Ant Story, are satirical social commentaries on the country.
Made on moderate budgets, it was easy for the director to collect funds from local producers. However, he finds himself in a spot with his latest film, No Land’s Man. Five times the budget of his earlier movies, Farooki has managed to collect USD 3,00,000 from small independent producers out of his estimated budget of USD 1.2 million.
This is where winning National Film Development Corporations’s Film Bazaar has helped him. The annual event in Goa provides filmmakers a platform to attract some of the most important co-producers, distributors and sales agents in the world. No Land’s Man beat Mira Nair-produced Three and a Half and Amitav Kaul’s Interpreter Of Maladies, based on the Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, among others, to win under the category co-production market in November. “When your film is at the Film Bazaar, you are taken seriously by important players from all over the world. The best international film festivals keep a track on the event to keep an eye on important South Asian cinema,” says Farooqi. The Rs 10 lakh winning sum might be a small dent in his budget, but he is hoping the felicitation will catch the eye of larger producers.
Set largely in New York, the film has a strong South Asian connection. No Land’s Man revolves around an individual’s search for identity in a world that is brought together by communication technology but torn apart by intolerance. “If you look at today’s world, identity seems to be the biggest hazard mankind is facing. Identity can be a privilege but it can be dangerous as well. In America, being a Londoner can work to your advantage, but in Afghanistan or Sudan, it can prove to be the other way round,” he says, about the film that is scheduled to be shot between July and September.
Farooki is already in talks with Australian and US producers and quite possibly “an important player from Indian New Wave cinema”. The filmmaker says that “there will be a powerful new generation Indian actor in the lead role”.
Farooki says that an India-Bangladesh collaboration will be beneficial for the cinema of both countries. “For example, if an Anurag Kashyap or Ashim Ahluwalia from India struggles to release his film, there are a sizable number of people in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Nepal who would want to see their movies and vice versa,” he says.