‘1971 war not aptly projected in Bangladesh’

By Pradipta Tapadar, IANS,

Kolkata: The political significance of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war was never aptly projected among the country’s youth and the nation has failed to become what it hoped to be, says Bangladeshi filmmaker Nasiruddin Yousuff.

Support TwoCircles

A veteran of the 1971 war, Yousuff’s “Guerilla” was the opening film of the newly-introduced competitive Asian Select Category at the Kolkata Film Festival.

“Guerilla” is a story of a Bengali woman, Bilkis Banu, involved in the war in Dhaka where hundreds of women guerrillas came forward to help the Mukti Bahini (liberation force) operations.

Yousuff has tried to send out two messages through his film — one for the youth of the nation and the other for the global audience.

“I have tried to uphold the ideals of nationalism which prompted the liberation war for the youth of my beloved country,” Yousuff told IANS.

“Also, I have tried to highlight to the global viewers the fight of the oppressed masses against the violators of human rights,” he added.

Asked why he projected a woman as the main protagonist, the filmmaker said: “Mukti Bahini soldiers are hailed for their participation in the war but nobody talks about the women who participated and sacrificed everything for the country’s liberation.”

“Secondly, this film also speaks of women empowerment. Currently, Bangladeshi women are not empowered although women fought in the war of 1971,” he added.

The 60-year-old regrets that the political significance of the war has not been aptly projected among the youth of Bangladesh.

“There were many reasons behind it: the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (considered the Father of the Nation), the military coup and dictatorship, and the rise of pro-Pakistan fundamentalism in the country,” Yousuff said.

“Also, no proper novels have been written about the war. School and college books don’t have its proper description. The youngsters are not even properly aware of it,” he said.

Bangladesh was born in 1971 out of the then East Pakistan after a fierce liberation war.

Yousuff said Bangladesh has failed to become the nation it craved to be at the time of liberation.

The director is a self-confessed fan of legendary Indian filmmakers Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak and is particularly fond of Ray’s masterpiece “Apur Sansar” and Ghatak’s classic “Subarnarekha”.

“I would love to work in a collaborative project of the two countries. But so far, I haven’t got any offer. If ever I get a chance, that would be a dream come true,” he said.

The president of Combined Cultural Alliance of Bangladesh, Yousuff made his mark in the global arena with his first film “Jesus 71” which also revolves around the 1971 war.

Hugely inspired by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, Yousuff has been the artistic director of the Dhaka Theatre for almost 40 years. He now plans another film on the liberation war.

Asked whether he was planning to make a trilogy on the lines of Satyajit Ray’s “Apu trilogy”, a smiling Yousuff said: “After making one more film, I will stop making films on the liberation war.”

“But through my films I will try to influence upcoming filmmakers to make movies on the liberation war.”

(Pradipta Tapadar can be contacted at [email protected])