There are many Bengali actors in Bollywood, but almost the entire cast of this film is Bangladeshi. How come?

You could say the entire cast is Bangladeshi. I only chose a few Indian actors for some of the minor roles. The film has been made in Bangla, which is the state language of Bangladesh. We felt that casting Bangladeshi artistes was the right decision, as they would have a more emotional attachment with this film.

The people of Bangladesh have a deep bond with Bangabandhu and so there naturally would be a lot of expectations from the film. As a director, how tough was the job of meeting those expectations?

The big question here is how well we could present the topic in the film. I believe we have been able to do that. We could communicate well. Hopefully, it will be fine.

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How was your experience of working with Bangladeshi actors?

It was a wonderful experience. Each of them is a trained actor and everyone is extremely professional. They had done extensive rehearsals and had an overwhelming enthusiasm towards their work. We didn’t face any problem in working with Bangladeshi artistes. The only obstacle was the language. I don’t know Bangla. But that wasn't a major issue. Interpreters solved that!

The film ‘Mujib’ was shot in Mumbai and Bangladesh. How was it, shooting in Bangladesh?

Their arrangements on every single matter were fabulous. There was not even a bit of trouble in the filming. To be honest, I was kind of skeptical about shooting in Bangladesh. As it is densely populated, it is tough to find empty spaces. The Bangladesh government and FDC made superb arrangements for us. They helped us enormously. Dhaka streets are so congested with vehicles. The shooting spots were far away from our hotels. But the government made perfect arrangements so that we didn’t get caught up in any traffic jams. We received full VIP treatment. There were vehicles with sirens in front of us and at the rear. The whole management was regal! The security management was also brilliant. In all it was an amazing experience.

Did the Bangladesh prime minister get a sneak peak of the film? What was her reaction?

Yes, she did see part of it. It is after all a film of her family. Her reaction was wonderful. She was already familiar with my work and had watched my movies too. She truly gave me full freedom in making this film. She told me I can make it the way I want to.

Does ‘Mujib’ feature the whole lifespan of Bangabandhu or the film is based on some special events of his life?

You can call it a biopic without doubt. See, a lot of things happen in a person’s life which we cannot portray all of that on screen. Only the significant incidents of his life have been depicted. We have featured two or three most important of his speeches in the film. After all, world’s best ten speeches do include one of his.

How much artistic freedom did you get for this film?

You could say I got full freedom. No one ever interfered with my work.

You did shooting during the pandemic. How challenging was that?

Our production company and production designer were great. They did all the planning. I never had to wait upon arriving at the set. The arrangements everywhere in Kolkata, Mumbai and Dhaka were on-point.

‘Mujib’ was scheduled to release quite a while back, but was stalled for the pandemic. Have you fixed any new release date yet?

Yes, we rescheduled the release date several times. But, we don’t have the power to do anything in this case. The delay was caused by various reasons including technological problems. I cannot confirm the release date yet as the work has not been finished.

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Earlier you worked on Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru. Now you are working on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. So is this your favorite genre?

No, no, it’s nothing like that. These persons all shone brightly in their respective fields in the pages of history. So I was inspired to do movies on them.

This interview appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Naurin Ahmed Monisha

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