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10 months ago

Tareque Masud's unique style of making movies

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In spite of his being gifted with the potential for emerging as a major film maker of the country, the career of Tareque Masud (Dec 6, 1956- Aug 13, 2011) proved a tragic one. It was cut short by a road accident not far from the capital. Admires of Tareque and the people involved in making better cinema in Bangladesh had placed enormous hope in Tareque. In fact, he didn't have to play the role of a film society activist for long - like many other budding film makers. But the young film maker dreamt of a movie-making career filled with nonstop creativity and grand work-plans. Never in their grimmest of thoughts could his well-wishers ever think that Tareque had to leave this world so prematurely. While returning to Dhaka after selecting the location for his new movie 'Kagojer Phool', Tareque and his three-member movie crew met a fatal road accident. In total, five died in the terrible mishap. The dead included director Tareque Masud and the unit's cameraman Mishuk Munier.

Tareque Masud had never been in haste in his preparatory stage and his film-making career. He knew the value of taking time to prepare himself in all possible ways: especially academically and technically. Perhaps this passion for working hard and discovering the essential creative outlets resulted in his making the amazing and popular documentaries --- 'Muktir Gaan' (1995) and 'Muktir Kotha' (1999). Both the films were based on the newsreels shot by the American journalist and film maker Lear Levin during the 1971 Liberation War. The duo comprising the American film maker Catherine Masud and Tareque Masud did the preliminary work of the two movies. The work proved hard and challenging, as the seemingly tireless couple had to retrieve the prints from dust-laden unedited footage. On his assignment as a reporter, Lear Levin had to move through the war-time camps on the Bangladesh-India border sheltering the Bangladesh refugees in 1971. Tareque Masud's focus was on the musical troupe comprising Bangladeshi artistes, who rendered inspirational war songs at the refugee camps. On the other hand, 'Muktir Kotha', was also made into a documentary out of unedited footage shot in 1971. The movie shows the rural people sharing their experiences while in occupied Bangladesh during the Liberation War. Thanks to the hard work put into the arduous job by the Tareque-Catherine couple during 1996-1999, the documentary got a finished look. The movie was released in 2012.

Few in the country are aware of the fact that the movie career of Tareque Masud began much earlier than is popularly known. A vital fact about the director's career is unlike many younger Bangladeshi directors, he picked the knowledge of a seasoned movie maker while he had yet to be known as a full-time professional director. Apart from the relatively longer films, Tareque made a number of short films and documentaries at intervals during his career cut short by the fatal road accident in 2011.     

In fact, Tareque's strong passion for movies began in 1989 with the making of 'Adam Surat', a documentary based on the life and career of the legendary painter S.M. Sultan. Veritably, it took the form of a 54-minute episode of Sultan's life told in his own words. It was during an interview given to the director that Sultan spoke in detail about how he became a full-time roving artist and his brief phases of institutional training. He also spoke about his floating boat-school for children in a village, a school which would have a great emphasis on painting, alongside the traditional curricula. Tareque Masud's 'Adam Surat' was highly acclaimed by the film critics after it had been screened. It is now acknowledged as one of the finest movies ever made on an artist in South Asia. 

The debut of Tareq Masud was a phenomenal event. The young director's very first venture of making a full-length feature film brought him before a large and highly receptive audience. His movie journey didn't follow the conventional track. First, he began his career after a long preparation focused on understanding the medium of feature films. Prior to the making of his maiden film 'Matir Moyna' (The Clay Bird) in 2002, Tareque the director met extensively with the people belonging to the arts in general. As a junior member of these arts-centred sessions, his chief role was to listen to what the seniors say about specific branches. The subjects ranged from literature, painting, dramatics, folklore, to Western music. Those were selected 'addas'. Under the guidance of one or another scholarly member, Tareque was eventually initiated into the world of books on classical literature as well as literary and serious movie journals.

Tareque's receptive participation in the arts-centred sessions ranged from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. All this resulted in his movie ventures beginning with 'Muktir Gaan' (1995). It is these ventures which culminated in the feature film 'Matir Moyna'. Tareque Masud hasn't been fortunate enough to live that long to appear before the audience with his new movie 'Kagojer Phool'. 'Matir Moyna' is a semi-autobiographical movie released in 2002. Its story was written by the director himself. Set against the backdrop of the 1969 mass upsurge in the then East Pakistan, the story unfolds the early phases of the 1971 Liberation War. The plot revolves round the experiences of a teenage protagonist, his parental family, his sister and his life at a religious school called 'madrasah'. In short 'Matir Moyna' shows the conflicts between the boy's young mother (Rokeya Prachi) and her orthodox husband (Joyonto Chattopadhay). The mother has once been a lively young woman. But thanks to her husband's stifling restrictions, she becomes morose and introvert. Eventually, the mother becomes a completely changed woman under the dictates of her obscurant husband. At one phase, the father's younger brother, who is involved in Bengalee nationalistic politics, i.e. independence, and opposes Pakistani autocratic rule and dominance, becomes a major character of the story. Passing through a web of conflicts and psychological clashes in the boy's parental family and the tense village in general, the father gives in to the reality of the Liberation War being fought for an independent country. The Bengalees sponteneously joined the war for the People's Republic of Bangladesh, in place of a theocratic state.  

Born in 1956, Tareque Masud had been destined to leave this world in 2011, leaving behind a number of remarkable movies, full-length and short, and documentaries. Perhaps this was what his destiny had for him in store. Given his methodical start and thoughtful steps, seniors in the filmdom have continued to show keen interest in him and in his work. He had been destined to the fate which would draw its final curtain on his extraordinarily creative career, when he was mere 55. Had he been alive today, he would have reached 67, the normal mature age of creativity in any branch of the arts.

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