The coronavirus outbreak left numerous Bangladeshi films in an indeterminate state, as film shoots and cinema theatres were forced to shut down for months. However, theatres are set to reopen from October 16, 2020. The BFDC is slowly being reintroduced to considerable activity, as artistes are finally returning to work, albeit maintaining caution against the pandemic. While some filmmakers are looking to resume shooting with stringent precautions on the sets, others went into post-production. More importantly, they are waiting for a safe and good time to release their films.
Production of Dipankar Dipon's Operation Sundarban, starring Nusraat Faria and Siam Ahmed in the lead roles, was shut down on March 8, with just six days of shooting left. The team is set to resume filming from October 10, with a limited number of people.
All members will be tested for COVID-19, before shooting resumes. When they come back to work, they will be prepared with masks, gloves, aprons and disinfectant sprays. The food on the sets will be served on disposable plates, and everyone will be accommodated with their individual beds, during the shoot.
The director will be observing how things go in the following months, since fears related to the coronavirus are still very much present. He hopes to release Operation Sundarban in March or April next year.
"We have shot in beautiful locations around the Sundarbans, which will be a visual treat for the audience. This film deserves to be seen on the big screen," he says. Dipankar Dipon's Dhaka 2040, is also one of the most anticipated films of recent years.
On the other hand, the team of Punch, renowned television director Kaushik Shankar Das's debut feature film, just shot for eight days in March, before production was closed down. The movie, starring Niloy Alamgir and Meghla Mukta in the lead roles, revolves around Kabir, a boxing champion, who gets involved in the malpractices of his industry.
"We have recorded the music and we are having weekly brainstorming sessions about the projection of the scenes, among other things," says Kaushik.
One of the reasons Kaushik hasn't resumed shooting yet is because a central aspect of Punch is a boxing match, which requires a large audience. The film also has team members from India and Thailand.
If all goes well, Kaushik plans to restart filming in January 2021, with precautions. "We will be shooting on a set, instead of real locations. Before resuming the shoot, every team member will be tested for COVID-19," says the director.
Abu Raihan Jewel's government grant-winning film, Adventure of Sundarban, based on Dr Muhammad Zafar Iqbal's novel, Ratuler Raat, Ratuler Din, went into production in March. The movie stars Siam Ahmed and Pori Moni in the lead roles.
Luckily, the team was able to wrap up filming amid the pandemic, following health guidelines. They had two appointed doctors on the sets at all times. The cast and crew members went to Khulna for the shoot, and were stuck there in a cruise, because of travel restrictions. They eventually returned to Dhaka after a week.
"Even with the health risks, our cast and crew members got the job done, and I am grateful to them for their commitment and cooperation," says Jewel. "As far as I know, no one from our team showed any signs of severe infection after the shoot. Currently, we are editing the film and we will take around three months to complete all the post-production work." He further adds that the film caters to the young audience.
Meanwhile, the filming of Hawa, helmed by Mejbaur Rahman Sumon, wrapped up in November last year. During the shoot, the entire unit stayed in Saint Martin for over a month. Sumon describes Hawa as a 'modern fairytale' about fishermen whose lives are intertwined with the sea.
The film stars Chanchal Chowdhury, Nazifa Tushi and Sariful Razz in major roles, among others. The editing and dubbing of the film are also done. "We planned to release Hawa in October or November this year, but that is not feasible now. I need to travel to India for some more post-production work, like audio mastering and colour grading," adds Sumon.
The much-anticipated Arifin Shuvoo starrer Mission Extreme, a police action-thriller co-directed by Sunny Sanwar and Faisal Ahmed, was supposed to hit theatres during Eid-Ul-Fitr this year. However, the movie's release was pushed back. Alongside Shuvoo, Jannatul Ferdous Oishee, Taskeen Rahman and Sadia Nabila star in the film in major roles.
Sanwar, a senior member of the special police force, is also the scriptwriter of the film. "Although cinema halls are reopening, we highly doubt that a large audience will turn up in the theatres, at least in the initial days. We still have to finish some post-production work. We will wait for the right time to release the film," he concludes.