Juboraj Shamim has cast slum dwellers for both of his films
Intrigued by the notion of human fallibility, Juboraj Shamim has made two back-to-back crowdfunded films, exploring the psyche of the guilty. Adim and Hajot. He believes he is, like most men, eternally sentenced to bear the burden of guilt for things irreversible, for words that cannot be withdrawn today, which has led him to shine a spotlight on, what he believes, plagues everyone: an inability to resist our innermost desires and whims.
Juboraj has worked with slum dwellers for both Adim and Hajot, whose fear and distrust of him were seamlessly incorporated into his work, which finally led to mutual respect and gratitude.
Adim ends with a murder; Hajot begins with the agonizing punishment of guilt, served by the murderer’s own conscience. Juboraj takes us on a tour to the prison we create for ourselves, when earthly punishment eludes the worst of us. In this exclusive interview with DhakaTribune Showtime, young film-maker Juboraj Shamim reflects on his cinema of guilt and impulse.
Tell us about Adim and Hajot.
Adim explores the power of our impulses and desires, and how they tie us back to ourselves. At the end of Adim, a murder takes place; Hajot looks into the consequences of the said crime. The killer begins to be haunted by the vision of his prey - the man he murdered, who commands him to reveal his sins to the world.
Why did you make a sequel within such a short interval, given that Adim has not yet received a theatrical release and we are now in the middle of a pandemic?
Because I don’t even consider myself a film-maker to begin with. I am not driven by the need to immediately release my films and enjoy the fruits of my labour.
A story was swirling around in my head; my camera was lying idly in my home; so, I decided to capture the story through the camera. I was mostly acting on impulse. To tell you the truth, I think of myself as an illiterate, unsophisticated painter who gives colours to his visions with whatever tool he has in his possession, without much regard to what happens after the task is completed.
When and where did the shooting of your films take place?
In the Bank Math slum beside Tongi railway junction. I lived there for seven months to research my story and finally began shooting Adim from January, 2018, which lasted till March, 2019. Hajot was shot amid the lockdown, within 16 days, with the help of a very small crew.
How was your experience working with non-professional actors in the slum?
Eventful, to say the least. I was thrown rocks at, widely suspected by the inhabitants and even arrested at one point. Given the widespread drug abuse among the slum population, my camera led to a lot of frowns and curses; many mistook me for a journalist. But I expected that. These people have been exploited since time immemorial. They have every reason to distrust outsiders.
On the other hand, the performance I got from them was incredibly sincere. The authenticity oozing from their every spoken word and the meaningful improvisation over the course of the shooting made me forget all obstacles. This was the closest we could get to the truth, I believe.
What are the advantages of working on crowd-funded projects?
I don't have to worry about being pressurized by producers to release the film as soon as possible. No one is pestering me or getting in the way of what I am trying to achieve. I worked at my own pace while retaining my peace of mind.
What are your future goals as an artist?
I will reduce my reliance on others for making a film. In a way, I am trying to imitate a writer's creative process, which hardly requires anyone else but the writer himself. I want to do most things on my own, write the story and capture it as I see fit.
These plans are tailored to meet the needs of our industry, shaped by its inadequacies. I don't have big investors; how else am I going to keep telling stories?