Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal, who has directed the biographical Bengali film ‘Mujib’ based on the life of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – the founding father of Bangladesh, says it was quite an interesting task for him as a filmmaker to encapsulate the multiple layers of Mujib’s life into a film.
The film ‘Mujib: The Making of a Nation’ is produced by the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC) and India’s National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, also known as Bangabandhu, was the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh, leader of the Bangladesh Awami League who was also the central figure of the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
In conversation with IANS, Shyam Benegal shared how he became part of the film as director.
Benegal told IANS: “It was a part of the cultural treaty between two countries, India and Bangladesh, where a film on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was offered to be made by our Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi to Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina. She happily agreed. They suggested a couple of names of filmmakers to helm the film and one of the suggestions was that of my name.
“When I was asked if I would like to make a film on Bangabandhu, I jumped at the idea because I believe that he was one of the exciting personalities of that time in our subcontinent. If we look at his journey, the story is really extraordinary, very powerful and deeply tragic at the same time.”
He further added, “Perhaps that was one of the challenges yet exciting elements for a filmmaker to encapsulate different elements of his life into a film.”
Extensive research has been done on Mujib as part of pre-production and Benegal shared how, through multiple conversations with Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Rahman and the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh, he got a picture of Mujib about his family life.
“We had few dinner meetings in which she would talk about Mujib like the way a daughter talks about her father. There are several references that we have on the charismatic personality he was as a leader of a nation but I have got a great deal of understanding on how he was at home, with his family, his special bonding with his daughter. It really helped all of us to get a mental picture of the personality,” shared.
The script of the film has been written by veteran screenplay writer Shama Zaidi along with Atul Tiwari. According to them even though Hasina has gone through the script she did not make any aesthetic changes and only made a few, for the accuracy of information.
Asked about what he discovered about Mujib, through the journey of the film, Benegal said, “I think he really was a very passionate man and he gathered all his strength from the love of his country, I mean he was the founder of a nation. We can see how the love that he got from people, resulted in the formation of a new country.”
“But his weakness was also that he loved that country too much, he trusted some people, too much. So, eventually what happened to him, was a result of some of those people who betrayed his trust. They conspired against him…it’s like a Shakespearean character existed in reality, isn’t it ?” smiled the veteran actor.
The protagonist of the film is portrayed by Bangladeshi actor Arifin Shuvoo.
The film ‘Mujib: The Making of a Nation’ is likely to release at the end of this year.