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The story of an Unexpected Success

Ershad Kamol

Murad Parvez

He had the desire to grab the national award for his debut film. However, winning eight national awards in seven categories for a film is definitely more than any debutant filmmaker could dream about. But this is exactly what happened to young filmmaker Murad Parvez, whose debut feature film Chandragrohon grabbed eight national awards. The delighted director, however, claimed that although he had the thirst to win the award, the results were more than his expectation.

The National Film Award for the year 2008 was announced on February 11. Murad Parvez individually got three awards: best director award, best screenplay award and best dialogue writer award. Azam Faruk got the best producer award for producing the movie. Imon Saha got the best music director award for the picture. And three actors also got national awards in two catagories performing in Chndragrahan: Zahiruddin Piar as the best anti-hero character and Dilara Zaman and Champa for the best female supporting actors.

Chandragrohon, adapted from the narratives titled Ranighater Brittanto by Syed Mustafa Siraj, is different from the stereotypical storyline of Bangladeshi commercial cinemas. It deals with the people living at the kheyaghat (the bank of a river where people go for boats to cross the river). For business purposes, people from different corners of the country live in such areas, the ghats are also infamous for criminal activities. However, Murad Parvez's intention is not to feature this sordid side as is the tradition in Dhaliwood based movies.

In the big canvas of the screenplay of Chandragrohon, Parvez has depicted diversified characters who belong to the downtrodden people. Through these characters he takes the viewers to a crisis that challanges our rational thinking. The story is neither unrealistic nor supranatural, but very practical: will anybody allow his or her son to marry an illegitimate girl? May be in the conventional Dhaliwood movies, the son, ignoring his parents makes it happen, but in Chandragrohon it does not happen and the incident drives the protagonist to insanity.

"I read the story Ranighater Brittanto in 2004 to make a TV drama," says the award winning film director, screen playwright and dialogue writer Murad Parvez, who is basically a TV drama maker, "But, actor Saba, who performed the protagonist in Chandragrohon, suggested that I make this a film. Surprisingly the chance came when Azam Faruk, a UK based businessman, approached me showing desire to produce a aesthetically rich movie in Bangladesh. I gave him the storyline and he was so impressed that he decided to make a big budget movie taking risk of making the film an inexperienced director like me."

"Till then I was just a director and screen playwright of TV plays, who made only a few TV drama serials and single episode plays. So, I was lucky in this sense that even many eminent directors in the country don't get a producer willing to make a big budget movie. But in my case good luck knocked on my door and I did not have to look for my producer."

Riaz and Sohana Saba in Chandragrohon.

That incident stimulated Parvez's long cherished desire to make a film. Leaving all his activities he totally concentrated on this project. "My only intention was to make an aesthetically rich movie not only to win a few awards but also to entertain the people. Often the award winning films don't necessarily entertain people; on the other hand, the mainstream entertaining films in most cases are not asthetically rich, rather contain cheap entertainment."

Murad Parvez says that the film was made during a month-long residential camp in the remote areas to portray the outdoor scenes authentically. " The key challenge of the movie was to portray a realistic presentation of a ghat scene of the 1960s. In this connection, I chose a location beside the river Atrai in a remote village called Chandrapur in Narail district. Throughout the day we used to shoot and in the night we slept in a ship. And I must admit that I got enormous support from all the actors and crew. Even the actors have already got their feedback by grabbing three national awards for this movie," says Murad Parvez.

But, it was not the only location that made it such a success. In fact, the film was made in 32 locations to develop the storyline authentically, since in the film the protagonist's character and the ghat develop along parallel lines: In advancement of time a bridge is built on the river, which changes the socio-economic structure of the ghat. Many locals become jobless and subsequently decide to migrate.

But was the film commercially successful? "No," replies Murad, "Due to three major causes we could not make money. First of all the film was released just a few days before the national elections and people were very tense due to the political movements prior to the elections. Secondly, due the inexperience, the producer faced problem with the distributors. And, of course the target audience, the middle class, do not go to movie theatres considering the insecurity and dirty atmosphere of the existing movie theatres in the country. As a result the film ran only in nine theatres in major cities."

The success in his debut movie has boosted young filmmaker Murad Parvez to go onto his next project. He is now preparing for his next film titled Daur. "It is completely a commercial thriller for the entertainment of the masses," informs Parvez.

At the same time Murad also wants to make TV plays to continue his practice. Murad says, "In Bangladeshi perspective there is no option except making TV plays for a maker to practice and experiment on his technical aspects of filmmaking, since we don't have any film institute."


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