Let barriers to positive cultural practices be removed

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

The concerns, content creators and actors of three generations voiced holding a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) on last Thursday, are the outlook of each and every cultural activist as well as conscious people. The liberty of telling a story being free from different sorts of control, they demanded is very much logical.

Questions have long been raised about the suitability of the government officials that have been entrusted with the responsibility of watching over the art and culture, for the job.

The film, director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki made in the name ‘Shonibar Bikel’, has been stuck at the censor board for three and a half years. However, they didn’t consider it necessary to explain where exactly in the film they have an objection. They say there’s no provision in the law to give an explanation in such cases.

Why should there be a colonial law of this sort in the independent Bangladesh? Censor board chairman, the board and deputy commissioners of the 64 districts, anyone of them can revoke the censor certification of a film, and this cannot be a law.

Under this backdrop, we strongly support the demand forwarded by the filmmakers and artistes to abolish the censor board. We also agree with their demand of formulating a modern and inclusive film certification law and OTT policy after discussing it with the stakeholders.

Government officials lack the ability to understand the truth that reality in terms of art is different from that of the actual life. Forest department has lodged a Tk 200 million lawsuit against Mejbaur Rahman Sumon, director of the film ‘Hawa’ that was extensively commended by the audience. However, there was zero incident of defying Wildlife Conservation Act in the film.

The director of the film said, “As a filmmaker all I want to say is, the bird in ‘Hawa’ was used as a metaphor and the cinematic reality that had to be created for the production, is not real. In the beginning of the cinema we clearly mentioned in the disclaimer that we had freed the bird amidst the nature once we were finished shooting the scene consisting the bird.”

When filmmaker and cultural activist Nasirudddin Yousuff was contacted on behalf of Prothom Alo, he said most of the bureaucrats involved with the management of art and culture do not understand it. They take everything literally.

Cases have been filed against several dramas and films, even before. The aim of these cases is to silence art and culture. Practicing positive and creative art and culture in this sort of environment is not just difficult, rather near impossible.

When a community in the country continues to spread propaganda against films, dramas, Jatra, Palagan etc. such adverse behaviour from some parts of the administration undoubtedly hinders the growth of positive cultural practices. People who make films, dramas, theatres and Jatrapala in Bangladesh have to overcome a lot of social barriers.

Where the constitution itself acknowledges the freedom of expression, why should one film after another be suppressed and filmmakers be harassed? Joining voice with the filmmakers and artistes, we too want to say, let the current situation be ended and the barriers of positive and creative cultural practices be removed.