A conversation with Shyam Benegal
Acclaimed Indian director Shyam Benegal plans to begin the shooting of his much-awaited feature film on the life and works of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Filming for the Bangladesh-India co-production is expected to begin in November this year and be completed by February next.
The director spoke about the film after coming out of a two-and-half-hour meeting with officials of Bangladesh and India at Hotel Ashoka.
He said that work on the script for the film has already begun, and the script writer for the movie, Atul Tiwari, will travel to Bangladesh next week to talk to experts of Bangla, as it is spoken in that country, and also to do background research for the script. Tiwari was also present at themeeting.
He will be assisted by Piplu Khan, noted film personality of Bangladesh, during his research work there.
Benegal said he was yet to finalise the cast for the film, but 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 contain Bangla as spoken in Bangladesh, rather than as spoken in India.
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 is chosen for the shoot because the weather at that time is usually free from rain and clouds.
Benegal has made critically-acclaimed films such as The Making of the Mahatama and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero. He said the film on Bangabandhu will be released during Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary year, which begins in March 2020.
He also mentioned that Bangladeshi technicians will be roped in for making the film. 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 congestion in Bangladesh.
However, the Bangladesh delegation at the meeting, led by Gowher Rizvi, International Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, assured full cooperation in the shooting of the movie in Bangladesh.
Benegal said making the film on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman poses one of the biggest challenges for him, because he needed to be absolutely authentic to recreate a charismatic personality.
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 the 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 the training of Bangladesh personnel, along with exploration of sharing of content and best practises in this field.