From page to screen
Will it be a case of second-time lucky for critically acclaimed Bangladeshi author Selina Hossain when it comes to her story being adapted for big screen by an eminent Indian director?
First it was maestro Satyajit Ray whose wish of filming Hossain's novel "Hangor Nodi Grenade" (Shark, River, Grenade) remained unfulfilled and now a guessing game is on about Mrinal Sen wanting to reproduce on celluloid Hossain's short story of a young village girl fighting a male-dominated society.
It was, in fact, five years ago that Sen had contacted Hossain over phone and asked her not to permit anyone else to film the short story "Bhalobasha O Sramer Shondhan" (In Search of Love and Labour) but the plan is yet to take off.
"You know, my misfortune of not seeing a great director making a movie out of my work seems to continue," Hossain told The Daily Star here on the sidelines of SAARC Literature Festival at the India International Centre last Saturday.
The story which Sen wanted to film is about a young Muslim girl in a Bangladeshi village whom a 70-year-old neighbour wants to marry after he failed to father a child from his three wives. The old man lures the girl's father into marrying her off to him in return for land.
The girl at first protests but later puts two conditions for marrying her suitor: (1) he should not give land to her father and (2) he will undergo medical test to ascertain the reason for his remaining childless. The man agrees and the medical test brings out that he is impotent, causing him mental agony.
"I did not portray the girl as an uncompromising rebel for that is not realistic in the rural Bangladeshi society. I have left it to readers to imagine what she could have done in the circumstances she found herself," said Hossain.
The writer said that she is not sure if Mrinal Sen would be able to make a film out of her story, given his age and that he has not directed a movie for quite some years now. Sen, according to Hossain, wanted to shoot the film in India.
The author recalled with disappointment how Ray had written to her a number of letters in 1970s that he wanted to film "Hangor Nodi Grenade", set against the backdrop of the Liberation War, but could never make it.
However, after Ray's demise in April 1993, it was Bangladeshi director Chashi Nazrul Islam who made a film out of it.
In fact, Ray had since mid-1970s wanted to adapt "Hangor Nodi Grenade" and asked Hossain not to allow any other director to make a film on the story. The writer kept her promise till Ray's death, leaving his wish unfulfilled and her disappointed.
Will history repeat itself if Mrinal Sen wants to film her short story? Hossain shudders to think of such a possibility.