On day one at the Bangladeshi film festival,film makers Tareque Masud and Catherine Masud talk about their film Matir Moina,which is based on the effects of religious fundamentalism
If celluloid is considered a reflection of the society,then the first ever festival of films from Bangladesh,that kicked off in the city on Friday is a reflection and an echo of not only the social,but also the political,religious and cultural scenario in our neighbouring nation.
The first day of the festival at FTII witnessed a galore of film makers from Bangladesh representing contemporary cinema in their country. The inaugural film was Matir Moina,(clay bird),by director Tareque Masud and wife Catherine Masud. The film is the story of a family,portrayed through the eyes of a school going kid- Anwar. The story,in 98 minutes unveils how,due to extreme religious fundamentalism of the head of the family,the other family members sacrifice their desires to live a happy and open life. Commenting on the award winning film,a classic portrayal of the thought process of the characters involved,Tareque Masud says,”The film is a reflection of my life. The protagonist in the film is what I have been. I was sent to a Madrasa where I studied till the age of 15 and the film just portrays what I experienced.”
Challenging the religious fundamentalism in a country like Bangladesh is a courageous task and Masud,with a strong influence of Satyajeet Ray’s simplicity,explains,”It is my personal closeness to the script that gave me the courage to put forth my views fearlessly. The film was ready before 9/11 happened and we had not expected such a grand welcome. But what changed the scenario were the World Trade Centre attacks that gave the viewers an outlook to perceive films of these sorts. This was probably the first ever film,post the attacks,that was based on religious fundamentalism.”
The film was banned in Bangladesh and Catherine Masud throws light on the challenging filmmaking process behind the provocative film. “We chose not to inform any of the publicity mediums about the fact that such a film was being made. But what was surprising was the fact that all the actors in the film,who are not professional actors but the actual characters that they portray in the film,despite belonging to the same religion,supported us,” says she,thus pointing out that Bangladesh,though under the influence of religious fundamentalism,is still a tolerant and liberal nation.
Commenting on Taliban taking over the government in Swat valley of Pakistan,the duo prefers to adopt a global approach. “Isn’t Talibanisation a global phenomenon?” asks Catherine as Tareque adds,”It is very sad that such religious extremists are taking over the government,but then this needs to be fought not with arms but with education. The mushrooming of extremism is a threat not only to Pakistan,but also to Bangladesh and the entire globe.” The duo is working on the next project that they plan to keep a secret.