The government has cancelled three national film awards bestowed upon the movie Brihannala in three categories in 2014, Information Secretary Martuza Ahmed told The Daily Star yesterday.
Allegations surfaced after the awards that the film's story completely matched the short story Gachta Bolecilo [The tree had said] of West Bengal's noted writer Syed Mustafa Siraj. Siraj's eldest son Abhijit Siraj raised the claims last year.
Brihannala director Murad Parvez had made his debut film Chandragrahan based on Siraj's story Rani Ghater Brittanto, with due permission from the writer and giving him credit.
But he had not taken any permission before making Brihannala, Abhijit Siraj said. After the film won the national award, the issue of plagiarism took the social media by storm.
Last month, noted Indian writers Shirshendu Mukherjee and Debesh Roy had written to Bangladesh's information ministry in protest and demanded royalty.
Following the allegations, a three-member probe committee was formed to look into the matter, said the secretary. He said the cancellations of the awards were done after the probe committee found the allegations to be true.
He said the government is taking initiative to take actions against the director and screenwriter of the government grant-winning film. The grant would be taken back, among other legal actions, he said.
The information secretary said one of the conditions for any government-funded film is that the story must be original. “When we received allegations that this film's story is not unique and has been taken from a person's story and that the writer has not been given any recognition in the film then the government formed a probe committee.”
Film director Murad Parvez and actor Ferdous, the film's protagonist, could not be contacted after repeated attempts.
Released on September 19, 2014, Brihannala had won the best film, best screenplay and best dialogue.
With the awards scrapped, the new awardees would be the nominated films that were in second place: Nekabborer Mahaprayan in best film, Akhtaruzzaman Ilias in best story for Meghmallar and Zahidur Rahman Anjan for best dialogues for Meghmallar.
At the 2015 Jaipur International Film Festival, Murad Parvez won the best original screenplay for Brihannala and Sohana Saba won the best actress award for the same movie.