Colombo, August 26: Colombo’s film lovers were on Friday treated to the award-winning Bangladeshi film Haldaa about the hard-pressed fisher folk living on the banks of the river Haldaa in the Chittagong district of South Eastern Bangladesh.
Five year earlier Haldaa had bagged a number of awards at the SAARC Film Festival held in Colombo. Many who had seen it earlier trooped into the National Corporation Theater to see it for the second time in a fitting tribute to the maker of the gripping film – Tauquir Ahmed.
Director Tauquir Ahmed had handled with finesse and artistry the story of indigent fisher folk subjected to commercial greed, the intrusion of environmentally damaging industrialization and an exploitative socio-economic hierarchy.
The renowned architect turned actor-director told the story through happenings in two inter-linked families, one poor and struggling to make ends meet, and the other a traditionally rich entrepreneurial one with a feudalistic and exploitative mind set. It is an inspiring story of undying love in a very challenging scenario.
In the 2018 SAARC film festival in Colombo, Haldaa walked away with the Best Feature Film award. The citation said that the film “addresses serious environmental issues of real day-to-day Bangladesh life, emphasizing the struggle of the people through cinematic language. It’s about sustainability of the life of the rural people.”
The Best Cinematographer award went to Enamul Haque Sohel for his work in Haldaa. The award was given for “ the light and shadow interplay of the lives and drama of the people in the river Haldaa.” Amit Debnath was given the Best Editor prize for his work in the film. He was praised for enabling the “fluid and balanced flow of the story.”
Haldaa got the award for the Best Original Music Score also. The citation praised the work of Tauquir Ahmed, Pinto Ghosh, and Sanzida Mahmood Nandita for its “beautiful conversion of traditional Bangladesh music into contemporary flavour.”
The film is about the dwindling quantity of fish in the increasingly polluted Halda river which had been a major breeding ground for fish in Bangladesh for centuries. Driven into extreme poverty, fishermen and their women fall prey to the designs of rich men. Fisherwomen were forced into “marriages” with wealthy old men who treated them as slaves and not as wives.
Director Tauquir Ahmed had made a gripping film based on his own script written to perfection through 17 drafts. He derives satisfaction from the fact that the Bangladesh government woke up to the issue of pollution, and today, Haldaa river is back to being a major breeding ground of fish.
Given the large community of film lovers in Sri Lanka, High Commissioner Tareq Ariful Islam has promised a festival of Bangladeshi films in Sri Lanka.
The film show on Friday was organized by the Bangladesh High Commission, the National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka and the SAARC Cultural Centre. A number of diplomats attended the show.