New Delhi: Filmmaker Kaushik Ganguly, whose gripping, National Award-winning tale “Bishorjon” (immersion) is built around the close social and cultural ties between Bengalis in West Bengal and Bangladesh, says people on both sides regret the political partition of the state in 1947.
Featuring actors Abir Chatterjee and Joya Ahsan, the film tells the story of a Bangladeshi Hindu widow who saves an Indian Muslim man who washed up on Bangladesh’s side of a river, that flows through both countries, immediately after the mass immersion of Durga Puja idols in the river Padma (known as Ganga on the Indian side).
Recollecting an incident from the film’s shoot, Ganguly told IANS how, while filming on location at a place called Taki on the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, there was a moment when the shoot had to be halted for a bit due to rain after the cast and crew saw the clouds building up in Bangladesh.
The cloud crossed the “border” within half an hour. And it started raining in Taki — in India.
“No one could stop that. You cannot divide the fish, air, clouds — and neither can borders separate love,” Ganguly said.
“…two states got separated primarily on the basis of religion…. that was the partition — that was East Pakistan. Now we call it East Bengal and this (where I stay) is West Bengal.
“We really regret that political partition. And after that blogger murder, the blast in Dhaka’s Gulshan Café (2016)… A lot of communal things are happening. The least we can do is make movies which tell of love,” Ganguly told IANS on the sidelines of the recent Habitat Film Festival here.
In 2015, a well-known secular blogger in Bangladesh was murdered at his home for criticising extremist Islamist ideologies that have gained strength in Bangladesh in recent years and for arguing for progressive causes. On his Facebook account, Chakrabarti frequently wrote in favour of women’s rights.
Ganguly, who has National Film Award-winning projects like “Laptop”, “Shabdo” and “Cinemawala” to his credit, says films are not about “dancing around trees”, but about creating awareness and spreading love.
“A film is not about going to separate locations abroad and narrating a simple love story. We have to do our bit. If you create this kind of film where finally you get to spread love and affection between two countries, it is going to pay.
“That is going to create public opinion… and that is going to help everything. If you just keep on giving speeches and tell people that we are secular and we don’t believe in this Hindu-Muslim divide… That is not going to work,” he added.
Ganguly is all for the entertainment industry realising its sense of responsibility.
“Even in a very commercial, entertaining film, you can teach some lesson. You can convey at least a one-liner to the audience… something that will remain with them.
“If you cannot answer why have you made a film, then don’t make it.”
The 48-year-old filmmaker says the entire plot of “Bishorjon”, including the backgrounds of characters, has been carefully put together to subtly convey the message of secularism.
“Through songs, through music, through films, through our books, spread this message slowly. You have to disguise what you want to say. Secularism has been disguised in this film very carefully. And you cannot imagine the amount of affection we have for East Bengal.
“I am not talking about the political thing and the bureaucrats… (I am talking about) commoners,” said Ganguly, who has used metaphorical references to make a larger point.
Contending that “common people are still undivided”, Ganguly said: “Citizens of Bangladesh and India (Bengal) are just Bengalis. When Radcliffe drew the partition line, he said, ‘History is not going to forgive me for this boundary.’ It is a pencil mark you can rub off easily.
“There is no border, especially for love and faith.”