Shameem Akhtar is a filmmaker and a media activist. She is also brilliant at direction, script writing and storytelling. 'The Conversation' and 'Grohonkal (The Eclipse)' are some of her productions. She has been active in the media for over three decades in different roles. Although her first production came up in 1991, she has been an activist in the 'Cholotchitro Sangshad Andolon' during the 1980's.
Being an English medium student, Shameema Akhtar started reading magazines and watching English and French movies at her teen age. Her family environment helped her to become acquainted with the cultural arena. She often visited the theatres to watch movies during the late 70's, which was a rare chance for many at the time. Thus she developed a fascination for movies and movie making. “At the then East Pakistan Period, there were lots of foreign films in the theatre and we used to watch them”, said Shameem Akhtar. “This presence of diversity in film shows used to draw a lot of viewers at the time.” She was attracted to the work of Rithik Gothok, Akira Kurosawa and many others.
My first production was a 10 minutes long non-fiction with Tarique Masud, my friend, named 'The Conversation' in 1991. I wrote the story and script. Besides, I also directed the production. Later on, I worked on 'Grohonkal (The Eclipse)' in 1993. I also worked in 'Kalpurobi' in 2010. Following this success, I got many proposals and request to work on movies and television productions. Recently, I am working on a movie named 'Rina Brown'.
Our media has gone through a critical stage in the past few years. The condition is changing over the years. I think BFDC (Bangladesh Film Development Corporation) has to play an important role here. I don't think that we lack good artists or creative individuals, what we lack is investment in our media industry. There is a lot of mismanagement in the industry. We have a film archive but there are no materials and archived objects there. Once upon a time there were many updated instruments in our industry, which were of world class. Over the years, we have lost the golden time of our films and media. Moreover, we lack a proper institute for media and television studies. We are lagging behind due to the lack of proper planning and initiative from the authorities concerned. However, I am hopeful about positive change. There are many young talents coming to our media; Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Amitabh Reza for example.
I am not driven by any particular philosophical movement or doctrine. As a filmmaker I try to focus on the conditions of women in Bangladesh. I think the true condition of our women is never represented through our media and movie productions. In this case, I try to work on the stories which are more focused on female protagonists. I think this can give us a new viewpoint about our society. From this viewpoint, I would say that I am not feminist but concerned about the feminine aspects of our society.
My inspiration has been my country and our tradition. I get a lot of inspiration from people and works of others surrounding me. Besides, several directors and producers have been my inspiration for quite a long time. For example, Bernardo Bertolucci and Rithik Gothok have inspired me through their works. I was much inspired by Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Last Emperor'.
I watch a lot of movies from different parts of the world. I watch Hollywood, Bollywood, French movies, Iranian movies, Russian movies, Turkish movies, Cuban movies, and even Korean movies. From Bangla movies, I would say Noyonmoni, Golapi Ekhon Train E, Dhire Bohe Meghna, Surjokonna, Sujon Sokhi, Nijere Haraye Khuji, and Ghuddi are examples of good movies. Besides, 'The Kite Runner' 'The English Patient', 'Raise the Red Lantern' and 'The Lunchbox' are some other good movies from Hollywood. 'Barfi', 'Om Shanti Om' and 'Saji' are some of my favorite movies from Bollywood.
I like Brad Pitt, Woody Allen, Cate Blanchett, and Gwyneth Paltrow from Hollywood. From Bollywood, I like Amir Khan, Amitabh Bacchan, Ranvir Singh, Ranvir Kapoor, and Konkona Sen Sharma. From Bangladesh, I like Sakib Khan.
I listen to music depending on my mood. I listen to various genres of music starting from band music to classical music. I like the band 'Drupod' much. In a word, anything creative or anything that conveys the sense of eternity of feeling or emotions attracts my attention. I like Nana Mouskouri, Elvis Presley, Simon and Garfunkel, and Neil Diamond. From our region, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Sachin Dev Barman are among few of my favorites. I like the song 'Lungi Dance', 'Jai Ho' or even 'Kolaveri Di' from Bollywood. I don't want to be confined to any particular taste or age group. Anything that fulfills the criteria of music attracts my attention, whatever the genre.
I read a lot of books including novels and short stories. My taste differs from time to time and I like authors from different parts of the world. I like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Orhan Pamuk a lot. From our region, I like Khalid Hossain, Shahzad Ferdous, Mahmudul Haque and Shahiduzzaman a lot.