University of Liberal Arts (ULAB) graduate Apurba Jahangir's short documentary film, Dhaka An Opera has been under the limelight as a promising film. It gives viewers a glimpse into the nightlife of Dhaka, portraying homeless people sleeping in the streets, youthful jubilance at Shahbagh, people buying and selling goods in Karwan Bazar, and more. The film was first screened at an international film festival, organised by the University of Dhaka. Later on, the crew submitted it to the Dadasaheb Phalke Film Festival, a notable achievement for a young filmmaker. In a short, but candid chat with The Daily Star, Apurba Jahangir opens up about his passion for making documentaries, and more.
Your documentary film, Dhaka An Opera, has earned praise at different international short film festivals. How was the experience of working on it?
I wanted to highlight the small but significant details of life in Dhaka, that escape our attention every day. For example, a skinny dog lying flat at midnight in the middle of an empty street, or cattle businessmen at Nilkhet leading their cattle to different destinations through vacant roads at night can create lasting impressions on us. We did not have a well-drafted plan before taking shots for the film. After we took the shots and came back to our studio, we crafted the story. We simply knew that when we go onto the streets, something would come up. We started taking the shots at midnight and continued till the early hours of the morning.
What inspired you to take up filmmaking and documentaries in particular?
My parents named me Apurba because they loved the character Apu from Pather Panchali. I grew up in a family where films and documentaries were cherished, which eventually influenced my interest in making documentaries. The creativity of my teachers and fellow classmates at ULAB also inspired me to make Dhaka An Opera. I am also grateful to Fahimur Rahman, for his guidance as the cinematographer of the film.
What were some of the obstacles you faced while making the film?
You see, it is risky to venture out in Dhaka after midnight. There were occasions when our shooting equipment got highjacked, as we did not have any security backup with us. If we take a look at India, we see that they have dedicated theatres for short films and documentaries; we have nothing of that sort in our country, and so, as of now, we cannot reach a larger audience. We only used a 6D camera to shoot the documentary film on a limited budget.
What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
I am working for an agency that caters to social campaigns, and on a new film, which will be released soon.