Bangladesh director's upcoming film to save river

 Bangladeshi director Tanvir Mokammel's obsession with rivers is nothing new. Two of his feature films are set in the backdrop of the liberation war of the country and unfold on banks of river Chitra and Modhumati.

New Delhi: Bangladeshi director Tanvir Mokammel's obsession with rivers is nothing new. Two of his feature films are set in the backdrop of the liberation war of the country and unfold on banks of river Chitra and Modhumati.

A couple of documentaries on the Karnaphuli and Jamuna rivers talks about the plight of people living on their banks.

However, with his next project -- a documentary titled "Dhaleswari Katha" (The Story of Dhaleswari)-- Tanvir seeks to break new grounds. He says he wants to go beyond film-making by launching a social movement to save the river Dhaleswari from pollution and let the film be born out of it.

"The rivers of Dhaka basin -? Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakhya-- all are now extremely polluted. Only Dhaleswari, a river with lot of history and culture, has managed to remain relatively pollution-free.

"But the manner in which factories, brick kilns and unplanned residential areas are growing beside the river and the way the river-bed is being occupied illegally by the rich and the powerful, it will not be long for the Dhaleshwari to lose its navigability and become just another polluted river of the Dhaka basin," Tanvir told PTI on phone from Dhaka.

Tanvir, who has won national award as a director, says his hour-long research-based documentary will try to explore the pros and cons of how to save the river.

The filmmaker says he wants to go beyond film-making and venture into the role of an activist-director by organising all stake-holders?farmers, boatmen, fishermen, weavers and local politicians and authorities?along the banks of the river for a social movement to save Dhaleswari.

According to the director, he would prefer to call "Dhaleswari Katha" an "activist film".

Tanvir says, "This venture will not just be a documentary film per se. To save the river with the help of the fishermen, farmers, boatmen and other stake-holders of Manikganj and Munshiganj region and with the teachers and students of the Bangladesh Film Institute, my unit members will try to mobilise a social movement around the Dhaleswari river area to save the river. The film will be part of that movement."

The research of the film has been completed and shooting for the documentary is slated to begin in November, he says estimating at least six months to make the documentary

In his earlier feature films like "Chitra Nadir Parey" (And Quiet Flows the river Chitra) and "Nadir Naam Modhumati" (Modhumati is the name of a river), the rivers were a part of the setting, in documentary "Karnaphulir Kanna" (Teardrops of Karnaphuli river), the river was more symbolic of the predicament of the tribals of Chittagong Hill Tracts.

In another documentary "Oyi Jamuna", Tanvir's focus was on erosion of banks along the river and how it affects the lives of the people by portraying the life and carrying their views.

"Dhaleswari Katha", says Tanvir, would deal with threat of river pollution and encroachment of land on the river-bed and along the river. "Naturally, the picturesque countryside of Bangladesh will be in plenty in the documentary," he adds.

The documentary would be filled with extensive interviews with ordinary people whose lives are entwined with that of river.

Tanvir has also stuck to his familiar pattern of alternating between feature-length and documentary film-making since the beginning his career in the 1980s.  

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