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Can Arifin Shuvoo pull off Bangabandhu?

  • Published at 02:38 pm March 13th, 2020

Dhaka Tribune conducted an online poll recently where 70% of the voters thought Shuvoo is not an appropriate fit for the character of this magnitude

Recent media reports have confirmed that popular Bangladeshi actor Arifin Shuvoo will be playing the role of Father of the Bangladeshi nation Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in an upcoming biopic. Netizens of the country have been criticizing the casting decision since the news broke as this will be the first feature length biopic ever made of the historical leader.

Dhaka Tribune conducted an online poll recently where 70% of the voters thought Shuvoo is not an appropriate fit for the character of this magnitude. The film’s director Shyam Benegal, a renowned Indian filmmaker, has not also confirmed the casting for Bangabandhu yet.

The director

There is no doubt about Benegal’s credentials as the veteran filmmaker was previously awarded the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his works.He is also well reputed in the Indian film industry for the biographical fiction and non-fiction works he had done on Jawaharlal Nehru, Satyajit Ray and Subhas Chandra Bose.

His rich portfolio led him to the job of becoming the commander in chief of the first Bangabandhu biopic.

The project is undoubtedly in the hands of a capable director but his last feature length film Well Done Abba was released back in 2009. That film did not reflect the craftsmanship needed to pull off Bangabandhu’s first biopic which will be watched over and over again for the next thousand years, more or less. Film-making technology and media production style have changed completely since 2009 and we are in the online streaming era now. Only time will tell if his film-making can hold up in the test of time.    

Even his latest TV project Samvidhaan: The Making of the Constitution of India, a 10-part mini-series revolving around the making of the Indian Constitution, was aired on India’s Rajya Sabha TV back in 2014. Its overall look felt like it was produced back in the ‘80s and could not lift his case any better.

Being in touch with the latest film-making style, skill and technology is another major concern to fans and film buffs.

The cast vs Shuvoo

Previously it was reported to the press that Fazlur Rahman Babu and Tauquir Ahmed agreed to join the cast to portray Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy respectively. Veteran actor Dilara Zaman was also cast to play the role of Bangabandhu's mother Sayera Khatun during the first week of February.

In total, a cast of 50 actors have been finalized for the biopic. In other pivotal roles, Nusrat Imroz Tisha (Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib), Raisul Islam Asad (Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani), Ferdous Ahmed (Tajuddin Ahmed), and Misa Sawdagar (General Ayub Khan) have been cast.

Most of the announced cast members of the film are veteran actors of our industry and have proven their acting skills through the years.

The big question netizens are asking is that, in this pool of talented and experienced actors, can a less experienced and young Shuvoo pull off the huge role of Bangabandhu.

Shuvoo’s last successful venture was blockbuster hit action-thriller Dhaka Attack. The film received audience praise both in home and abroad. That is the only noteworthy role he had in his comparatively brief film career. His 2019 feature Shap Ludu was impressive but not a role which will bury a place in the movie-goers heart.

Shuvoo is a popular, talented and devoted actor but netizens claim that will not be enough to pull off a role of this stature. Some are even speculating that the protagonist’s role might seem weak in contrast to the other experienced members of the cast. 

Oscar worthy?

The first feature length fiction film based on a South Asian national leader’s life was the 1982 film titled Gandhi based on the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

The British-Indian co-production, was written by John Briley and produced and directed by Richard Attenborough. 

It was nominated for the Academy Awards in eleven categories, winning eight, including Best Picture and Best Director for Attenborough, Best Actor for the lead Ben Kingsley, and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for John Briley. 

The governments of Bangladesh and India are jointly producing the feature film based on the life and works of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The dramatic life and political events of the Father of the Nation deserves at least a few wins or nominations in major international film festivals. We hope that Benegal and his team are strategizing that and developed the screenplay which will be powerful enough to do so.

The chain of events from 1969 to March 7, 1971, from Bangabandhu’s perspective, is definitely one of the most intriguing pieces of world history and if done right deserves international recognition and acclaim.

Nusraat Faria as Sheikh Hasina

Popular Dhallywood actor Nusraat Faria Mazhar will play the role of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s daughter and current Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, who is another monumental figure of Bangladesh’s political history. This casting decision also faced major backlash online despite her being one of the most popular faces of Dhallywood.

Most probably she will play a younger Sheikh Hasina in the pre-liberation war era but netizens and movie lovers of the country are saying she does not have the acting skills and experience necessary to pull off such an important character of the film.

Another Bangabandhu biopic by Netflix

Several sources have confirmed that Netflix and the team behind acclaimed Netflix original series Delhi Crime set in the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gang rape, is developing another biopic on Bangabandhu. The project is not yet confirmed and is still under development. 

The project is said to be directed by Richie Mehta, a Canadian filmmaker and writer, who also directed Delhi Crime. If greenlit, then it is scheduled to release on the streaming platform within 2022.

Hopefully, one of the two or even both ongoing biopics will do proper justice to the historical and charismatic figure Bangabandhu is and the national hero whose heroic stories raised us as a generation.

Siam Raihan is a film editor, producer and a former sub-editor at the Dhaka Tribune’s Showtime Desk.

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