The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) dedicated the 'Country in Focus' segment to Bangladesh. Festival Director Chaitanya Prasad said, "We are honoured to have this segment for Bangladesh, as it coincides with 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations."
This is an effort to build a bridge of excellence between the two countries through cinema post-pandemic, he said at a media conference with Bangladeshi director Tanvir Mokammel on the occasion of the screening of the latter's latest film, "Rupsa Nodir Baankey" as part of the opening ceremony in the 'Country in Focus' category of the 51st IFFI in Goa, on Sunday.
"We are happy that Bangladesh is the country of focus this year at IFFI, and we would like to thank the organisers immensely for that," said Tanvir. "It is a befitting year, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh as well as the diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh."
"Rupsa Nodir Baanke" is a film about a left wing leader, who fights against his destiny all along his life. While portraying the man's struggles, the film deals with the Anti-British Swadeshi movement, the 1947 Partition of India, Tebhaga movement of the Bengal peasants, creation of Pakistan, killing of the political prisoners inside a jail in Rajshahi and finally, the liberation war of Bangladesh against Pakistan in 1971. Another Tanvir Mokammel directorial, "Jibondhuli" is also being screened as part of the 'Country in Focus' category at the IFFI.
Country in Focus is a special segment that recognises the cinematic excellence and contributions of a country. Talking about "Rupsa Nodir Baankey", Tanvir compared the protagonist of his film to the hero of a Greek tragedy.
"He had all the dedication and qualities, but time was against him. He was running against the tide. He is like a Greek tragic character whose fall was inevitable for no fault of his own," the director said.
The protagonist of the film participates in the Swadeshi Movement against the British, serves the poor people during the famine in 1943 and tries to resist riots in 1947. After going through these harrowing experiences, he is murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in 1971.
Elaborating on the challenges faced during the making of his period drama, Tanvir shed light on the research he did regarding the props, costumes and events, in addition to reading books.
"Researching is a challenge faced by all filmmakers who make such films," he said, adding that he avoids making sets, as he is against artificiality.
Sharing his thoughts on eminent actor Soumitra Chatterjee who passed away last year, Tanvir said that Chatterjee was a true artiste, and that Bengali cinema has lost a real icon.
This year, the IFFI is also paying tribute to Satyajit Ray, showcasing his selected films, "Charulata", "Ghare Baire", "Pather Panchali", "Shataranj Ke Khilari" and "Sonar Kella."
Talking about his love for Ray's films, Tanvir said, "He was a man of renaissance, who was very clear about his thoughts."
He further added, "Ray used to paint well and he can be called the Da Vinci of Bengal. We will not have another Satyajit Ray. If one follows his method of working, they will never make any mistake as each shot would be well planned. But, unfortunately these days it is not common to follow Ray's kind of filmmaking."
The editor of "Rupsa Nodir Baankey" Mahadeb Shi, who also attended the media conference, shared his experience of working with Tanvir for two decades and said that the director's latest film is relevant for the festival, as the theme is about a common man.
"I have been working with Tanvir for the last 20 years. We believe in similar ideologies and values. Tanvir makes films about common people, and about humanity," Shi said.
The film's art director Uttam Guha, and costume designer and casting director, Chittralekha Guha, were also present on the occasion.