New Delhi: A much-delayed joint film venture between India and Bangladesh on ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is likely to cost over Rs 35 crore, and India will bear 40 per cent of it, ThePrint has learnt.
The film in Baangal, a dialect of the Bangla language spoken in Bangladesh, will be directed by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal and is scheduled for release in 2020, the birth centenary year of Rahman.
The production of the feature film and a documentary on Bangladesh’s Liberation War 1971 was first announced in a joint declaration made by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina when the latter visited India in April 2017.
Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, had led the liberation movement that split the country from Pakistan.
A Bangladeshi delegation met Indian officials in New Delhi Tuesday to discuss the final modalities of the film and various other aspects, including research on the life and struggle of Rahman, and, most importantly, the script.
A MoU on the film is set to be finalised and signed between the two countries in the next few weeks, sources said. The shooting is scheduled to begin in October. The National Film Development Corporation will produce the film from the Indian side.
The project has seen an inordinate delay as it got tangled between the Ministries of External Affairs and Information & Broadcasting over setting up the expert committee to look into the various aspects of film-making. There were also delays from the Bangladeshi government’s side in confirming the estimates needed to make the film.
Project shows India’s support for Hasina
The film project indicates New Delhi’s interest in supporting Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League government.
New Delhi’s interest in funding the film is motivated by the fact that Hasina remains a severe critic of Pakistan, who believes that the hardline Islamist elements in Bangladesh are funded by the Pakistani establishment.
ThePrint had last year reported that New Delhi was carefully monitoring the situation in Bangladesh and is aware of the growing public criticism aimed at Hasina, who has been accused of taking control of democratic institutions in her country, including the Election Commission and the press.
A senior government official said Benegal would complete the script of the film before November. “The script would first be jointly examined by experts of both the nations to avoid any kind of controversies,” the official said.
The film will be shot in Bangladesh and feature mostly Bangladeshi actors.
From the Indian side, the project is being overseen by an expert committee comprising representatives from the ministries of defence, external affairs, and human resources development. Sources said Bangladesh has also sought archival footage and other research material available with India.
Talking to ThePrint, Benegal said productions like these do take time as it is between two countries and so a lot of formalities need to be completed.
“However, after today’s meeting, the issues have been sorted out and both the countries now are on the same page,” he said.
Benegal said that the film should be released between March 2020 and March 2021 as both the birth centenary of Rahman and golden jubilee year of Bangladesh’s liberation fall at that time.
“The film will involve a lot of research, the writers have to get together and the script needs to be prepared after collating the material available in English, Bengali and other languages,” he said.
Documentary, radio show on Liberation War
The golden jubilee year of Bangladesh’s independence falls in 2021. The documentary on the Liberation War will be made under the audio-visual co-production agreement between the two countries.
Besides, All India Radio and its Bangladeshi counterpart Bangladesh Betar will jointly produce a radio serial on Rahman and a radio documentary on the Liberation War, prominently highlighting India’s role in Bangladesh’s freedom struggle next year.