Tareque Masud: A groundbreaking figure in our film arena
Tareque Masud- a noted filmmaker in our country, was born in 1956 in Faridpur. He was an active member of Film Society Movement. He appeared as an off track filmmaker and established himself as a leading director of that trend by the mid-eighties. Towards the end of his career he was making a film on the partition of India under the title- Kagajer Ful (The Paper Flower). But his career was cut short as Tareque Masud and the cinematographer of his new film Ashfaque Munier were killed in a tragic road accident on August 13, 2011 in Ghior on their way back to Dhaka from a shooting spot of Manikganj. Today marks the seventh death anniversary of both Tareque Masud and Ashfaque Munier.
Tareque Masud spent about seven years with one of the outstanding painters, SM sultan to picturise a documentary film on his life under the title Adamsurat and the long period of Sultan's company also enriched Tareque's cultural outlook and political philosophy. Tareque Masud had earned a massive fame with the release of his documentary film on the war of liberation Muktir Gaan (1975), based on news reels of 1971. He discovered the footages on the Bangladesh freedom struggle, shot in 1971 by American film director Liang Levin during his short stay in the United States. He, along- with his American wife Catherine Masud, collected more film footages on the war of liberation of Bangladesh from all over the world and jointly produced and directed the historic doc-umentary film Muktir Gaan.
Muktir Gaan established Tareque Masud as a popular filmmaker in the country. But his first full-length feature film Matir Mayna (The Clay Bird) released in 2002 brought global reputation for him for the first time. The film bagged the best critic award in the Cannes Film Festival in 2002 and was turned into the most globally discussed film to have been produced in Bangladesh at that time. It was the first Bangladeshi film selected for Oscar award. The film, a sort of an autobiography of the director himself was made in the context of the liberation war of Bangladesh.
Various incidents of the war of liberation, the role of Islamist fundamentalists who collaborated with the Pakistan army in staging atrocities and genocide in Bangladesh were depicted in the movie beside the traditional cultural elements and philosophy of Bengal from the point of view of its central character, a boy studying in a madrasah. The Clay Bird was released commercially in the cinema chains of Europe and America and its DVD was also published for global consumption.
Some other remarkable films of Tareque Masud are Antarjatra (2006), Narasundar (2009) and Runway (2010). The story of Antarjatra, a feature film was based on the emotional quest of non-resident Bangladeshis of UK for redefining their self-identification. Finally, the characters of the film returns back home towards the end of the film. Narasundar (Barber), a short film, narrated the story of a freedom fighter, who was chased by the Pakistani army and their collaborators in a market place during the war. But a non-Bengali barber, working in a shop there gave him shelter and saved his life. Runway depicted many contemporary issues of Bangladesh specially the emergence of terrorism in 2004-2005.
National self-identity, traditional and folk culture and rituals are the contents of Tareque Masud's films. The war of liberation was the theme of some of his films.
August 13 marked the 9th death anniversary of the filmmaker.
The writer is a freelance contributor.