Bangladeshi filmmakers are going on a five-point program within the month of September to demand the withdrawal of the case against the maker of the recently discussed movie ‘Hawa’ and the release of ‘Shanibar Bickel’, which has not received censor clearance for three and a half years, and the freedom of film production and proper film certification law. In a press conference on Thursday, they presented the details of their demands and programs.
Three generations of producers and actors attended the press conference of Dhaka Reporters Unity in the morning. Piplu and Khan read the written statement on behalf of the makers. Addressing the policy makers there, they said, this kind of control creates the kind of wound in an artist’s mind, and the artist may not regain the madness to create something new in the future. Even after 50 years of independence, our culture, progress and any media of the country are under the most threat right now. They raised the question, why will there be a censor board in this country? Why should filmmakers get threatened by the Digital Act? Why would a large economy have an allocation to art-culture equivalent to alms?
The five-point demands of the makers are that the case against the film ‘Hawa’ under the Wildlife Protection and Protection Act should be withdrawn immediately. A clear explanation should be given as to why the movie ‘Shanibar Bikkel’ did not get censor clearance. The Bangladesh Censor Board should be abolished and a modern and inclusive film certification law should be formulated in consultation with all stakeholders regarding the proposed film certification law. A modern and inclusive OTT policy needs to be formulated in consultation with the stakeholders regarding the proposed OTT policy. Before filing any case related to the film or content, the relevant authorities must be consulted. The makers said they will submit a memorandum to the Information and Broadcasting Minister regarding these demands by September. Apart from this, a round table meeting will also be organized soon.
In the press conference, cultural personality Nasir Uddin Yusuf said, the moment the audience returned to the hall, the case against the maker of Hawar is not a good sign. I want a clear answer as to why Saturday afternoon censor was not given. Where freedom of expression is given in the constitution, why should there not be freedom in the arts?
Senior producer Morshedul Islam said, ‘Almost all of us have seen Hawa. That’s why everyone can talk about it. “Saturday Afternoon” has not been seen by many. I saw the film at a special exhibition. It is a picture made in one shot. I think it’s a different kind of film. If this film is released, the image of the country will be brighter. Today’s youth should be allowed to make movies freely and independently. Then they will conquer the world.
Actor Tariq Anam Khan said, ‘Nobody is bothered about Dhaka city’s air and noise pollution. A compensation of one lakh taka is given if a person dies in launch sinking. And if the movie is made, a case of 20 crore rupees is given. Artists across the world protest through art. We also want to stand against these. India, Turkey, Korea are earning hundreds of crores by making movies. On the other hand, we are trapping ourselves in the web of various laws.
Criticizing the proposed film certification law, Qamar Ahmed Simon said, “Chairman of the Censor Board, the board and the district commissioner of 64 districts – anyone who can cancel the censor of a film, it cannot be a law.” It is independent Bangladesh. No law can exist in a free country like that of British, Pakistan and autocracy.
The press conference venue is decorated with posters of all the famous films of Bangladesh released at different times. A barbed wire fence was erected between the organizers and journalists. Makers and artists speak from the other side of the barbed wire. Mustafa Saryar Faruqi said, ‘Even after 3 and a half years, I am still waiting to know why our film did not get censored. Artwork is like headlights. If you keep your headlights off, you won’t even know what danger lies ahead.’
Mezbaur Rahman Sumon, the director of the film ‘Hawa’ said, ‘We thought we would tell the story of flowers, birds and rivers in the movie. Birds should be excluded from that list from now on. I myself now entered the cage. How do I tell the next story? The bird in our movie was released. Laws of real life cannot be applied to movies.’