Bangabandhu biopic Shooting likely to begin in Nov

Veteran Indian director Shyam Benegal is likely to begin the shoot of his much-awaited feature film on the life and works of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a Bangladesh-India co-production, in November this year and complete the same by February next. This was decided at a two-and-half-hour meeting between Benegal and officials of Bangladesh and India here discussing the proposed movie.

The work on the script for the film has already begun and Benegal’s script writer for the movie Atul Tiwari will go to Bangladesh next week to talk to experts of Bangla language as it is spoken in that country as also to do background research for the script. Tiwari was also present at today’s meeting, Tiwari will be assisted by Piplu Khan, noted film personality of Bangladesh, during his research work in Bangladesh.

Benegal is yet to finalize the cast for the film but he has made it clear that for the movie on Bangabandhu to be realistic, the major cast and crew should be from Bangladesh, the writer should be a Bangladeshi and the dialogues should show Bangla as spoken in Bangladesh rather than as spoken in India. The film will be made in Bangla and subtitles of other languages can always be added later on, he added.

A major part of the shooting will take place in Bangladesh and the rest in India, Benegal said. The director, who was in Dhaka in April and met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina over a dinner, said the period between November and February has been chosen for the shoot because the weather at that time remains free from rain and clouds.

Benegal, who has made critically-acclaimed films “The Making of the Mahatama” on Mahatma Gandhi and “Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero,” said the film on Bangabandhu will be released during Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary year which begins in March next year. But he declined to give any tentative month or date saying “I can’t commit on that right now.”

He said Bangladeshi technicians will be roped in for making the film on Bangabandhu. According to Benegal, his biggest worry now is the movement of logistics, particularly the equipment, for the shooting of the film from one place to another given the problem of traffic jams in Bangladesh, something he said he experienced during his three-stay there in April.

However, the Bangladesh delegation at the meeting, led by Gowher Rizvi, International Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, assured full cooperation in ensuring smooth logistics for shooting the movie in Bangladesh. In fact, an assurance was held out that if necessary helicopters would be provided to move the logistics for facilitating the shoot of the film, a Bangladeshi official, who attended the meeting, said.

Benegal said making the film on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman poses one of the biggest challenges for him because he needed to be absolutely authentic to recreate a charismatic personality. The director said he had faced a similar problem while making "The Making of the Mahatma." Co-production of a documentary on the Bangladesh Liberation War was also discussed in the meeting and it was mutually agreed that the Director of the documentary would be from Bangladesh who would be assisted by a co-director from India.

Prasar Bharati, the body that oversees India’s state-owned Doordarshan and All India Radio, has decided to carry Bangladesh TV on DD Free Dish platform and to waive carriage fees for the same, a statement from India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry said. As a reciprocal gesture, the Bangladesh delegation, which also included Information Secretary announced that a Doordarshan channel will be adopted on the soon-to-be launched Direct-To-Home (DTH) platform of Bangladesh, it said.

A working agreement on cooperation between All India Radio and Bangladesh Betar was also agreed upon between the two countries, implementation of which would start from June this year, according to the statement. The Indian delegation also highlighted the strong network of Community Radio in both the countries and offered the services of Indian Institute of Mass Communication for training of Bangladesh personnel, along with exploration of sharing of content and best practises in this field.