People here will emotionally connect more with this film than people in Bangladesh, says Bangladeshi actor Arifin Shuvoo who plays the role of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the biographical film — Mujib: The Making of a Nation.
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Shyam Benegal, the movie — which is an Indian-Bangladesh co-production – had its special screening in the city on Thursday, a day before its official release in India in Hindi and Bengali languages.
Shuvoo (41), who was in the city to attend the special screening of the movie, said the movie would enhance the friendship between the two nations.
“There cannot be any difference between the audience in Bangladesh and West Bengal and India. The way people in Bangladesh will perceive this movie, the people in West Bengal will also perceive it in the same way as a large number of them have roots in Bangladesh. Watching this movie will feel like retracing one’s roots. People of Bengal will emotionally connect more with this film than their counterparts in Bangladesh,” the actor told The Indian Express.
Mujib: The Making of a Nation is the first government-produced biopic on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman- the first president of Bangladesh and father of the nation. In 2019, the governments of India and Bangladesh decided to jointly produce the film on Rahman, to commemorate 50 years of the Bangladesh Liberation War. Benegal, who has made documentaries on leaders Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and a feature film on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, was chosen to direct the movie.
However, due to the Covid-19, the production of the film was postponed along with its release.
The film premiered on October 12 at the Bangladesh Film Archive. The next day the film was released in the movie theatres of Bangladesh.
According to the actor, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was moved to tears after watching the film. “She was moved after watching the film. She held my hand and wanted to know how I did it. The film showed how most of her family members were gunned down. She will definitely not clap her hands to see the events unfolding on the screen. But she was moved to tears,” said Shuvoo.
According to him, the movie was made to tell the story of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. “The movie documents the history which was not told for 29 years,” says the actor.
As a number of people gathered to watch the special screening at a multiplex in the city, a second special screening was arranged to accommodate the audience. The movie begins by showing Rahman returning to Bangladesh in January 1972, after being confined in a jail in West Pakistan. His iconic statement, “I’m a Bengali, I’m a human being. I’m a Muslim, who only dies once, not twice,” from his famous March 7, 1971 speech is re-imagined in the first 15 minutes of the film. It then tells the story of the rise of a freedom fighter, how he formed the Awami League, his life, the Bangladesh Liberation War and his assassination in 1975 along with most of his family members during a military coup.
The only survivors from Mujib’s family were his daughters Sheikh Hasina (the incumbent Prime Minister of Bangladesh) and Sheikh Rehana, who were visiting Hasina’s physicist husband in West Germany at the time.
“It was very challenging for me as I have previously done fictional characters. But this time I was playing the role of the father of our nation who is loved and admired by all of us,” said Shuvoo.