Subhash Dutta: The visual storyteller
Subhash Dutta is regarded as one of the few great filmmakers who introduced a novel track in filmmaking and established cinema as an eloquent medium of art after the independence of Bangladesh. He was equally successful in acting, directing, producing, screenplay and art direction. He was creatively successful in every sphere he worked. Thus, he was a well-known face of the Bangladeshi film industry.
Subhash, a descendent of Dutta House of Chokroti village of Bogra, was born on February 9, 1930. He was an artist of integrity and a true film adventurer. As a young aspiring actor, he went to Mumbai in the early fifties to learn the art of cinema and film-making. There he started working in a film publicity studio as a film poster artist for thirty taka per month only.
At that time, a job like this was quite audacious for a young man belonging to an elite Bengali family. For his strong passion and desire for film, Subhash Dutta risked everything he was.
Returning to India in 1953, the filmmaker joined Evergreen production house. He drew posters for the first movie with sound of the then East Pakistan 'Mukh o Mukhosh'. He made his directorial debut as an art director of the film 'Matir Pahar'. Later, he made his acting debut in the film 'Edesh Tomar Aamar' (1958), directed by Ehtesham. As an actor, he came to prominence in 1961 when he starred in Mustafiz's commercially successful film 'Harano Din'.
In 1971, during the War of Liberation, Subhas Dutta was captured by Pakistani Army. As he worked in Urdu as well as Bengali films, he was a known face to Pakistanis. His fame as an actor saved his life and he was released.
He narrated this story in his film 'Arunodoyer Agnishakkhi' (1972) which is considered as one of the best films directed by him in the background of Liberation War of Bangladesh. Many high profile actors of Bangladeshi film industry of that period like Babita, Ujjal, Anoyar Hossain and others acted in the film. Subhash Dutta himself played a small but significant role in the film.
He featured the famous song of Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra 'Mora Ekti Phulke Bachabo Bole Juddho Kori' in the film, highlighting the agony of the victims of brutal torture by the Pakistani Army and their rehabilitation in the society after the war. He also drew attention to the rights of war children through this film. In 1977, Subhash Dutta made the film 'Bosundhora', based on the famous novel 'Teish Number Toilchitro' by Alauddin Al Azad, which is still discussed avidly by film critics.
He created a number of films that immensely contributed to the golden era of Bangla film industry. In all his films, he portrayed the stories of human emotions and socio-cultural values of Bangladesh. Although he made commercial films and entertained the common people, he incorporated the art and values of Bangladeshi culture that took him to new heights. He wanted to make a film on the life and work of Begum Rokeya, but could not make it happen.
His film 'Sutarang' (1964) was awarded as the second best film in the Asian Film Festival of Frankfurt in 1965. Some of his acclaimed films were screened in the Moscow Film Festival in 1967, 1973, and 1979 and Phnom Penh International Film Festival in 1968.
In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the film industry of Bangladesh, he received the National Film Award for best producer-director in 1977 and Ekushey Padak in 1999. Apart from these, he also received many other national and international awards.
Subhash Dutta, an iconic figure in Bangla film, died on November 16, 2012, in his home in Ram Krishna Mission Road, Dhaka. He was suffering from heart disease.
Notable Works are---Sutarang (1964), Abirbhab (1968), Kagajer Nouka (1966), Palabadal (1969), Alingan (1969), Aaina O Abashishta (1967), Binimoy (1970), Arunodoyer Agnishakkhi (1972), Bosundhora (1977), Phoolsajya, Dumurer Phool (1978), Sakal Sandha (1984) and O Aamar Chhele (2008).
November 16 marked the 7th death anniversary of the director.
The writer is a freelance contributor.