Cultivate viewers, cultivate films
Film making is considered 'merge of all arts' as film making requires all the elements from each art form and shapes its own beauty. It is a collective art and many creative persons from different sectors team up under one roof. Our Bangladeshi films, overall, are yet to master this form. Yet, we have few films to be proud of down the years.
Zahir Raihan's masterpiece 'Jibon Theke Neya' (1970) was a political satire that successfully symbolized a family melodrama and a national movement metaphorically. Tanvir Mokammel's 'Lalsalu' (2001) and 'Lalon' (2004) still touch its viewers with simple and realistic storytelling. Tareque Masud's 'Matir Moina' is one of the assets in Bangladeshi films that earned international praise and brought Cannes Festival pride. But our film-market hasn't reached to a height compared to developed film industries. Let's find out a simple way but not short-cut.
Popularity among viewers is more focused than the conceptual quality of the production. Indeed, film budget is an issue. Our film industry is a small market considering the number of viewers, so producers find it hard to recover all the money they invest. Nevertheless, screen writers' biggest rival always have been the freedom to think, to speak, to pen. Our screen writers also have to pre-censor their ideas, due to the system of created cultural values and conservative mindset.
In Bangladesh, screen writers usually fall into the trap of commercial aspects. To develop a story, our screen writer have to filter their creative thinking with the preference of the producer, director, and viewers.
Then comes the role of a director. There is a bit lack of visionary directors and there are few reasons behind that. We are technologically lagging behind. Technologies and technicians of films go hand in hand. Modern technologies give birth to good technicians, certainly.
So, most necessary part of any art form is its consumers. We would all agree the fact that we have very less number of sensible viewers who watch quality films. If we can arise the number of quality viewers, parallel to that styles of films will change undoubtedly. Then we might find a solution to our budget problems. Gradually, a climb is becoming visible nowadays, but not in a massive way. If the number increases, directors and writers would have been experimenting on writing various subject matters to satisfy the sensible and liberal section of viewers.
So firstly, we should try to cultivate viewers. Year by year, every great film industries did that but it took a lot of time for the developed industries even. For instance, Hollywood cultivated its audience at the 1950's with so many great and different genre of films and now they are enjoying the fruit of it. They can boldly present different subject matter without taking any financial risks. Such as, '12 Angry Men' (1957) directed by Sidney Lumet was a courtroom drama that didn't only focus jury room discussions but also convey strong humanistic perspective. 'Stairway to Heaven' (1946) was a successful attempt of different subject matter film. Billy Wilder's 'Ace in the Hole' (1951) was a film that showcase negative effect of journalistic power of that time in the United States.
Even once upon a time Bollywood only made commercial films but things are changing now. They are more open to new ideas and they are making some promising films like 'Udaan' (2010), 'Paan Singh Tomar' (2012), 'Ankhon Dekhi' (2013), and the 'Lunchbox' (2013).
Now a days, there is a bunch of new generation film makers who are changing the film culture and proving their films in international arena but they badly need the support of our film fraternity, government and the people of Bangladesh. Film is the most powerful and influential medium comparing all other art form to provide any message to the mass. And our new generation should use the power of film to represent Bangladesh and its enriched culture to the world.
Aasif Antue is Cinematographer,