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If only Tareque Masud hadn’t left so soon

  • Published at 05:22 pm December 6th, 2017
If only Tareque Masud hadn’t left so soon
Independent filmmaker, producer, screenwriter and lyricist, Tareque Masud, was the first Bangladeshi ever to win an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category for his 2002 feature film “Matir Moina” (The Clay Bird). The film further went on to receive a number of accolades and international awards. Yet, the untimely demise of the pioneering filmmaker has created a void in the film arena across the world. His loss has tormented the lives of many, especially brave independent filmmakers in Bangladesh, who sought inspiration from his profound words, works and brave soul. The eminent director died in a road accident on August 13, 2011, while returning to Dhaka from Manikganj on the Dhaka-Aricha highway, after visiting a film location for his upcoming film. His ability to portray the depth of the rural experience, as well as his sharp eyes at detecting every day struggles of the common man are some of the reasons why Tareque will always be remembered for. He is not only commemorated by art or film enthusiasts but also people of different genres. December 6 marks the eminent director’s birth anniversary. To celebrate this day, Dhaka Tribune’s Showtime looks into Tareque’s early life, his films, and what would have happened if he had never left us. Born in Nurpur village in Faridpur, Tareque was educated at a madrassa by his deeply religious father. After the liberation war, which interrupted his education, and following Bangladesh’s independence, he went for a general education and completed his higher secondary studies from Adamjee Cantonment College, in Dhaka. Tareque later graduated from Dhaka University with a degree in History. A film society movement activist during his university days, the film persona began making his short documentary film, “Adam Surat,” based on famous Bangladeshi painter SM Sultan. Then, after a few shorts, he made his first feature length documentary, “Muktir Gaan,” based on the 1971 Liberation War. Tareque met Catherine Masud, his wife and his creative life partner, while he was working on “Adam Surat.” Since then, the two had spent the next two decades making films together through their production house, Audiovision. Together they wrote scripts, often co-directed, and toured the country and the world with their films. Catherine has also edited all of his projects. The visionary filmmaker has made three feature length films - “The Clay Bird” (2002), “Ontorjatra” (2005) and “Runway” back in 2010, all of which had a different and unique perspective envisioning the Bangladeshi people and their quite-so-real struggles. All his projects were critically acclaimed both nationally and internationally. Right before his untimely demise, Tareque had been location-scouting for his upcoming feature film “Kagojer Phool,” which is based on the 1947 partition of Bengal. The accident also claimed the life of his long time cinematographer and friend Mishuk Munier, along with three other colleagues. Tareque’s wife Catherine and four others fortunately survived. Since his death, his wife founded the Tareque Masud Memorial Trust, which is dedicated to the task of archiving and memorializing Masud’s work through publications, educational projects, screening programs, and the completion of unfinished projects. During a recent interview, Catherine told the press that the Tareque Masud Memorial Trust, in collaboration with their partners, has so far published four books. Another book, based on a collection of Tareque’s interviews and speeches, will be unveiled during the 2018 Book Fair. She also said that it will be the first part of a two volume work. Recently, the High Court has announced the verdict in a compensation case, ordering a payment of Tk4.62 crore to the family of the eminent filmmaker. On this special day, although the void created due to Tareque’s early demise, recollecting and remembering him and his work is the only to cope up with his loss. Meanwhile, film students, independent filmmakers and cinephiles watch and study his films for reference, motivation, and to learn the art of depiction, both in and outside classrooms. Small groups and clubs continue to commemorate him by holding discussions and dialogues. Though he is not around physically, he shall never be absent. If only Tareque had not left so soon, his fans and audience, both nationally and internationally could have experienced his unique virtue of storytelling and learned more about his country, our country and our people.
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