MEHERJAAN @ the Indian Film Festival in Melbourne
Critically acclaimed Bangladeshi feature film “Meherjaan”, written & directed by Bangladeshi filmmaker Rubaiyat Hossain as her debut film, will be screened in the Bollywood & Beyond: Mind Blowing Indian Film Festival 2012 on June 16, Saturday 2:30 pm at the Melbourne Central Level 5, Corner Swaston & La Trobe Streets, Melbourne.
“Meherjaan”, directed by Rubaiyat Hossain as her debut film which has created huge political controversy, was released in Bangladesh, its original country of production in 2011. Despite of good box office success & huge critical acclaim the film was taken down within a week by the authority due to the hostile responses generated by some extremist groups of people regarding the film critiques certain pitfalls of nationalism that create conditions to justify war, killing and violence, and also because of their discomfort with the plot of film- the love affair between a Pakistani enemy soldier and a Bangladeshi girl in the backdrop of Bangladesh’s independence war with Pakistan in 1971.
Politically heated and much talked about anti-war family saga ”Meherjaan” has been touring worldwide in the festival circuit winning a handful of awards including the Best critic Award at Jaipur International Film Festival and the Orson Wells Award at Tiburon Int. Film Festival. The film has been critically acclaimed and praised at Kolkata Film Festival, one of the India’s prime film events, and recently it has been shown in the International Festival de films de Fribourg, Switzerland as the opening film of Bangladesh Day.
Rubaiyat Hossain, director, writer, production designer and an actress of Meherjaan is an interdisciplinary researcher. She has completed her B. A. in Women Studies from Smith College, USA, M. A. in South Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania, USA. In 2002 Rubaiyat obtained a diploma in Film Direction from New York Film Academy.
Rubaiyat’s initial intention of making Meherjaan, in her own words, “as the world plunges into unlimited war and terror, there is a necessity to look outside the masculine ideology of nation-state and violence, to look for a feminine life sustaining language that is related to nature, absolute beauty and love.” To face up to the masculine grand narrative of a nation and nationalism in broad-spectrum, Meherjaan is a women’s “feminine” re-visiting of Bangladesh’s independence war with Pakistan in 1971.
Meherjaan features some of south Asia’s greatest actors including the legendary Indian actress Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, and one of the India’s finest actors Victor Banerjee who was introduced by Satyajit Ray and received the Best Actor award of National Board of Review, USA, the Evening Standard British Film Awards and a nomination for BAFTA for his role of Dr. Aziz in David Lean’s Passage to India.
We look forward for your support in endorsing this anti-war film to promote world-peace and love against war & violence.
“Bangladeshi war film Meherjaan rekindles old enmities”
“…soulful, romantic storyline and an honest appeal to find peaceful solutions to political conflicts.”
Times of India
“…bold and refreshing initiative.”
“The film as whole was thought-provoking and strangely compelling”
“Bangladeshi liberation film opens old wounds”
“Kudos to Rubaiyat Hossain who had the courage to showcase such a wonderful and inspiring love story, standing at a time when we are facing cross border terrorism. Violence is the backdrop and had a presence throughout the film. But you see nothing violent on screen,” says (Monika) Roy.
“Meherjaan tells a compelling story”
“…a family saga set in the times of war, is quite an impressive achievement in cinema from Bangladesh. Its multi-layered story-telling and cinematic eloquence render a probing and heart-breaking tale about the spoils of war and loss of humanity.”
“Rubaiyat Hossain’s ambitious movie, with its novelistic plot, encompasses several story lines, but at its heart is a universal dichotomy: the senselessness of war and intolerance versus the redeeming power of love.”
The Greenville News
“As a parable of those times, the Bangladeshi feature film Meherjaan (2011) represents this harsh reality in a poignant way, insightful of the gentle topography and aesthetic of the land we know as Bangladesh.”
“In all, the film was exquisite.”
NAZAR : A South Asian Perspective
Hossain’s film reminds us that beyond the hegemonic narratives of the heroic tales and sacrifices of a war there always exist multiple truths.
Bina D’Costa, Academic [bdnews24]
…it was tough for Hossain to make the movie which was aimed at highlighting violence on women and it was very sad that her work was strongly opposed in her country.”
Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, Legendary Actress [Times of India]
“The response to Meherjaan was a reaction to the demasculinisation that might be felt by some and is an insight into the psyche of Bangladeshi masculinity which is uncomfortable with individual expressions of female sexuality.”
Nayanika Mookherjee, Socio-cultural Anthropologist, Durham University, UK [EPW]
“If the director’s goal was to make her audience think, to question, to re-examine, and to open up the space for a full and honest (and doubtless painful and contentious) discourse of 1971, then she succeeded magnificently.”
Zafar Sobhan, Columnist [Guardian]
“In this day and age of grave political polarization and specific monopolies over our Liberation War history, the film’s attempt to provide a new perspective has been vilified not because of what it portrays, but because of what it allegedly fails to pay tribute to, and some politically powerful lobbies have given it the death”
Farheen Khan, Human Right Activist (UN) [The Independent]
“In the context of 1971 we are used to looking at these binary images of Bangladeshi hero versus the dehumanised Pakistani brutal animal. I tried to break away from that and I think that’s what created this huge uproar,” says Ms (Rubaiyat) Hossain.
‘Women usually appear as sacrificing characters. They are often treated as part of the silent landscape — objectified, abused and raped. The purpose of ‘Meherjaan’ is to break free of the typical male narrative and open up a conversation to explore other perspectives on the Liberation War,’ says Rubaiyat.
“It talks about national politics also speaks about the very personal intimate emotions of women. It is also a film that tries to look at the canvas of war and find a flicker of hope in love and compassion that can reach across man made boundaries”
The Indian Express
“Meherjaan controversy: It’s not about the film, but about us and our history.”
Afsan Chowdhury, Journalist & Historian, [bdnews24]