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       Volume 11 |Issue 17 | April 27, 2012 |


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Image: Courtesy

Making “Moving Pictures” with Mind and Soul

Fayza Haq

Mithu was fascinated with Lumiere brother's “moving pictures” ever since he was a child in school. He used his tiffin money to buy paper and paints. He was an orphan, since age six, like Pip in Charles Dickens' “Great Expectations”.

Khaled Mahmud Mithu is as much a painter as he is a maker of films. He has worked for BTV and is also a free-lance painter of repute. He and his wife, Kanak have won many awards, both here and overseas. Winning awards entails a lot of responsibilities and sacrifices. Even when Mithu is on holidays, he is filming, and his mind is alive with the thought of “moving pictures”.

A still from the film “Dark Resonance”. Photos: Courtesy

He has studied film-making in depth, both in this country and abroad. As a student of Fine Arts, at Dhaka University, learning and exchanging ideas with peers and painting icons, he learnt a lot under the master painter nonpareil, Qayyum Chowdhury. Munirul Islam guided him, as one learnt from the flurry of speeches at the reception given for him by Bengal Gallery. The programme was organised to celebrate the winning of four national prizes by Bangla feature film “Gahiney Swabdo” (Dark Resonance) at the National Film Award 2010.

The reception, broadcasted by various local channels, presented Mithu's personality of caring for others at a glance. Mithu remains an artist and film-maker who works with his mind and soul. He is well-loved and respected by his peers and teachers at home and abroad.

Seeing his documentaries and feature films, one is aware that he remains a master of both. Mithu is an ardent admirer of Italian, Belgian, Indian and post 1971 Bangladeshi movies. He keeps abreast of both commercial films, and art films — as only a fairly young film-maker can and must.

Mithu says that winning the seven international awards from Canada and the UK made him feel good. He felt that he could compete on a international basis. It increased his self-confidence. When he won four national awards – for sound, film, direction and cinematography – he realised his responsibility, he says. He felt that it was expected of him to make better films in the future.

His latest film is also his first feature film. The others were documentaries, short experimental films, and TV dramas. In “Dark Resonance”, which won the national awards, Mithu tries to analyse why the aim with which our liberation was won has become dull.

Khaled Mahmud Mithu

“We seldom realise the sorrow of others. I want to make mankind sensitive and responsible again,” Mithu says. The film deals with the problems of the lives of street beggars. One of the beggars happens to have lost a leg in the liberation war. He made his daughter study till the university level, as he had the 'muktijoddha' drive in him. The character was bent on making the future generation independent, says Mithu. In the film, the protagonist has a problem in marrying off his daughter because of his identity as a street beggar. The bride to-be is perceived as a beggar's daughter, and not as the daughter of a freedom fighter. This, says Mithu, is the main issue of the film.

Meanwhile, a poor girl, who wishes to marry an armless beggar, is faced with the question – who will feed and look after her if the bridegroom himself is armless and helpless. The girl then reveals that her back is covered with bruises from lashes, the remnants of the violence she faced at the hands of her last husband. But an armless person can't beat her, so she is tension free.

Speaking about his role as a child during the 1971 War, Mithu says that he was 12-years-old, when he fled to his village at Madaripur. When the Liberation fighters came, he took training in the early mornings. “We fought with bamboos two and half feet in length. We learnt to hide when the bombing took place. I helped feed the Freedom fighters with muri which my grandma prepared with gur in balls,” he recalls.

Asked to speak about his background, Mithu says, “Since I was in Class IX, everyone knew that I wanted to be a painter and film-maker. This is because I used to draw and take pictures all the time. With the four annas that I got for pocket money, I made an enlarger machine. I would print in my own darkroom. Since my school days, I tried to make friends with my camera,” he recalls.

“I got the money for my film equipments with my 'Tiffin' money. My father had passed away when I was four and a half years old. I grew up on other people’s charity, moving from aunt to uncle, each year,” Mithu explains. “That's why as a child, I was a bag of bones. I worked on the camera, in my room, with utmost silence,” he says.

“I joined the 'Begart Film Institute', in 1976, in Class X. I excelled in these photography classes. I learned with the German film scholar, Yokim Brom,” says Mithu. “I also studied with the British teacher, Peter Fire, and G Shamanth, of India, under whom I did film-workshops. Viscom, a special lighting expert from the US also taught me. In 1996, having practiced in the small media, I resigned. I tried to be an independent film-maker since then. After that, I made short films; and then made 'Dark Resonance'—which got me my four National awards”.

At Dhaka University, he was encouraged and inspired by Mahmudul Haque, Shahid Kabir, Samajit Rai Choudhury, and late Abdul Baset. The late professor Razzaq, Qayyum Chowdhury. also helped him daily, by giving him their time and attention.


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