The day of September 1, 2020, will forever be remembered as a gloomy day for the movie-lovers in Bangladesh - as the Star Cineplex, known as the very first branch of modern cineplex in the country - has officially announced that it is shutting down operations at its Bashundhara City branch where it started 16 years ago.
“Star Cineplex in the Bashundhara City Shopping Mall will not reopen. We received an eviction notice from the market authority a few days ago, as our contract ends next month (October 1) and it has not been possible to be renewed,” Mesbah Uddin Ahmed, Public Relations head of Star Cineplex, confirmed to media on Tuesday.
However, the other branches of Star Cineplex will continue operations once the restriction on movie theatres gets lifted, he added.
Although the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 has impacted the cinema industry like never before, the crisis situation is not the reason that Star Cineplex to shut down in the Bashundhara City - nor the fear of lacking cinema audience in the future, Mesbah specified.
“We, alongside all our loyal and beloved movie-lovers are emotionally attached to this branch, as this has been the very first in the country. Many urban people started coming to cinema theatres again because of this branch. We believe this relationship will continue between us and our movie-lovers in our other branches, once they are re-opening”.
Apart from the Bashundhara City branch in Panthapath, Star Cineplex has two other running branches in Shimanto Shambhar (Dhanmondi) and SKS Tower (Mohakhali). A new branch is scheduled to start its operation at Mirpur, soon.
On August 12, the Cineplex authority called a press conference in which a seven-point plea was declared to the government, in order to keep their operations in all of their 15 screens across Bangladesh.
All branches of Star Cineplex have remained closed since March 20.
Started as the first international quality state-of-the-art multiplex cinema theatre in Bangladesh on October 8, 2004 by Show Motion Limited (incorporated in 2002) at Bashundhara City - Star Cineplex became a household name for the movie-loving urban youths and families for the last 16 years. While many cinema halls failed to generate new audiences, the Bashundhara City branch of Star Cineplex brought urban audiences back in movie theatres and simultaneously enthralled audiences of both local and foreign movies, which has been appreciated by both the audiences and industry-insiders throughout its running years.
Young director Rafat Jamil’s short film 'Seized Pleasure' got its release on country’s first pay-per-view movie streaming platform LagVelki.com on Friday.
The short film has already participated in many national and international film festivals.
Based on a thought-provoking storyline revolving around a man in his fifties, a young man and a watchman in an open sand field and their psychological journey revolving around a specific target - the short film is dedicated to the late singer, journalist and cultural activist Sanjeeb Choudhury.
Veteran actress Jyoti Chattopadhyay who previously worked in Morshedul Islam's 'Suchona' (1988) alongside with legendary actor Humayun Faridi, has made his comeback in acting through this short film - alongside recitation artist Laltu Choudhury and Tanvir Siddiqui.
'Seized Pleasure' has participated in the 2019 Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival in the Philippines, as part of its Asian Competition category. It has also participated in the MoziMotion Film Festival in the Netherlands and Indie Best Films Festival (Ibestff) in California, New York.
The film was nominated in three categories - best film, best director and special jury award, in the Bangladesh Short and Documentary Film Festival 2018 and also projected in 64 districts across the country by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. It also participated in the TFP Film Festival 2019, organized by the Television, Film and Photography Department of Dhaka University and the Short Film Festival-2018 in the Chittagong University of Engineering & Technology.
Director Rafat Jamil is currently working as a Senior Copywriter in an advertising agency and previously worked as a journalist in the daily Prothom Alo.
LagVelki.com is the first online pay-per-view movie streaming platform in Bangladesh where the viewers can watch movies in this digital platform (www.lagvelki.com) at Tk 50 per movie.
French author Simone de Beauvoir said, "Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male." The patriarchal society often encourages a male child to pursue his dream but limits the sphere of a female child within the boundary of the kitchen. However, overcoming all the obstacles set by orthodox society, the strong-willed women chase their dreams. Thanks to writer-Director Sharan Sharma for portraying the victory of a brave girl in the movie titled ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl (2020).’ It is a biopic of Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena, the first woman IAF (Indian Air Force) officer to participate in War.
This movie makes a dramatic start depicting some soldiers are attacked by enemies in the Kargil war and a confident female IAF officer is running towards the helicopter to carry out the rescue mission. Usually, in the films, such an audacious introduction is reserved only for the heroes. The next scene takes the audience 15 years back in time to tell the background story of how a young girl gets attracted to the dream of being a pilot.
In this movie, the audience can experience the thrilling trajectory from a little girl to an IAF officer. Gunjan gets inspired every time a plane passes through the sky. She used to wear goggles even in the nighttime, with a notion to protect her eyes, so that she can be pilot. The first criticizer of her long-cherished dream was her own brother who said that girls can work as a stewardess, rather than being pilots. Through the words of Gunjan’s young brother, the director wittily shows a glimpse of how patriarchal society wants to see a woman.
There is a common saying that “Behind every great daughter is a truly amazing dad.” The man who really deserves credit behind the success of Gunjan Saxena (Played by Janhvi Kapoor) was her father. While most of the orthodox Asian fathers want their grown-up daughters to start a family and raise kids, Gunjan’s father gave her the inspiration to follow her own dream.
Though Gunjan wanted to join Delhi Flying School, the exorbitant course fee pushed her to the quest of IAF admission. It was a stroke of luck that IAF was taking the batch of ‘Women Pilots’ in history. Gunjan’s dream to fly was about to slip away for being a little (7kg) overweight and 1cm shorter than the IAF entry requirements. Then destiny favored her again, as the measurements of her hands and legs were more than the prerequisite. This miraculous incident can be tagged as the ‘power of attraction.’ Under this concept, the universe conspires to assist people in achieving their true desire.
As the storyline advances, Gunjan got admitted to IAF and her first posting was at Udhampur city in Udhampur District under the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In the base, she experienced non-cooperation from her male colleagues and supervisor. Their male ego was damaged seeing a woman stepping inside the IAF which is considered as the domain of males. She was teased by the term, ‘Miss Badlao’ or ‘Miss Change’.
The director intelligently depicts the small to big gender-based struggles that women have to face in the pathway of their successful career. For instance, a scene shows that Gunjan can’t find a female toilet in her base. In another scene, the lack of a makeshift changing room creates a great challenge for her. Gunjan’s rude supervisor Vineet Kumar Singh says “because this place isn’t made for women.” As a supportive boss, Manav Vij guided Gunjan in her training. Out-winning all the difficulties Gunjan became the top-performing pilot of her academy.
Gunjan was attacked by the antagonistic mindset of her Co’s and returned home heart-broken. Though she couldn’t get moral support from her own mother and brother, her encouraging father (played by Pankaj Tripathi) was always there to ignite her spirit. While the whole world was mocking her dream, even her mom was worried about her marriage; Gunjan shows steel-strong stamina for not letting her dream go down. Standing against the chauvinism, she dared to return her base to resume her training. At the age of 24 years, Flying Officer Gunjan Saxena was assigned to combat for IAF in the Kargil war in 1999 under Srinagar station.
At the station, Gunjan was de-motivated by her brother (played by Angad Bedi) once again. Like any other protective Asian brother, he wanted to keep his sister safe. By virtue of her bold character, Gunjan insists her brother to change his own patriarchal notion to start a change in the world. For the sake of her safety, the authority decided to remove Gunjan from her duty as an emergency evacuation pilot of chopper Eagle Hawk 2.
But fortunately, she was sent for a mission to rescue an injured soldier. Ditching the words of her commanding officer, “You can’t do it,” she completed the mission fruitfully rescuing lives including her Supervisor Vineet who hardly missed a chance to belittle her. In the climax scene, Gunjan blows up our mind with her sheer courage and unbending passion towards duty and patriotism. She dared to fly upon the eye of death!
This biopic of Gunjan Saxena reminds the world that women’s physical strength should never be compared with her male counterparts. Women can equally shine in any respected profession by her intelligence, hardworking, and passion. Gunjan Saxena can be a lighthouse for numerous visionary girls who are struggling against the prejudice of family, society, and circumstances to achieve their dreams.
The title role ‘Gunjan Saxena’ has been played by Janhvi Kapoor – daughter of veteran actress Sridevi. As an emerging actress, Janhvi has done praise-worthy acting. Though we have seen Pankaj Tripathi in negative roles in most of his movies, this experienced artist proved his prowess in acting in a positive role – as a motivating father. Furthermore, Angad Bedi, Vineet Kumar Singh, and Manav Vij have done great acting in their respective roles. The film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ is currently streaming on Netflix. You can watch it on your next movie night!
Thursday marks the 9th death anniversary of late filmmaker Tareque Masud, a marquee storyteller known for his majestic creations and garnered critical applause from home and beyond during his lifetime.
The short-lived genius died along with media personality Ashfaque Munier Mishuk (popularly known as Mishuk Munier), film production crews Wasim and Jamal and microbus driver Mostafizur Rahman in a fatal road crash on Dhaka-Aricha highway in Ghior Upazila of Manikganj on August 13, 2011 - while returning from the shooting set of his unfinished film 'Kagojer Phul'.
Several organizations had been observing this day in remembrance of Tareque and Mishuk with different programmes in the past, which had to put on a halt this year due to the ongoing global pandemic.
However, the day is being observed this year through various programmes adopting the new normalcy of virtual events.
Tareque Masud Memorial Trust and Moviyana Film Society have jointly organised a two-day programme on Wednesday with an online discussion.
Tareque's widow and American-born producer-director Catherine Masud joined the event with film researcher Professor Fahmidul Haq, journalist Asif Munir, filmmaker Proshun Rahman, Moviyana Film Society president Belayet Hossain Mamun and others.
The organizers will continue the two-day programme through arranging a discussion and candle-light vigil in memory of Tareque Masud and Mishuk Munier at TSC of Dhaka University on Thursday evening.
Catherine will also join Bangladesh Legal Aid Services and Trust (BLAST) and Tort Law Project Bangladesh's joint webinar titled 'Accountability for Road Crashes: Compensation under the Road Transport Act 2018' on Thursday at 8 PM which will be broadcasted live from BLAST’s official Facebook page.
Born on December 6, 1956, in Faridpur, Tareque was involved with the film society movement in the late 70s. His maiden film is ‘Adam Surat’, a documentary on the legendary artist SM Sultan which was released in 1989.
His much-acclaimed film 'Matir Moyna' earned the FIPRESCI Prize in 2002 Cannes Film Festival and became Bangladesh's first film to compete for the Academy Award for the best foreign-language film in the same year.
In addition to filmmaking, Tareque was also a pioneer of the independent film movement in Bangladesh. He was a founding member of the Short Film Forum, the leading platform for independent filmmakers. He organised the country’s first International Short and Documentary Film Festival In 1988.
His other major films are ‘Runway’, ‘Ontorjatra’ ‘Muktir Gaan’ and the unfinished 'Kagojer Phul'.
Star Cineplex authorities have sought assistance from the government for its survival saying that it may get shut down forever without adequate aid and support from the government.
Mahboob Rahman Ruhel, Chairman of Star Cineplex, placed a 7- point demand at a press conference at its SKS Tower branch in Mohakhali DOHS on Wednesday, seeking assistance for the survival of the beloved multiplex brand in Bangladesh.
"Since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown back in March, cinema halls including all three branches of our Cineplex have been shut down. The pandemic has been taking a substantial toll on every business; however, other businesses have been reopening except for the theatres", Ruhel said.
Ruhel saaid that the movie theatre chain brand has been dealing with huge financial losses because of their recent gigantic investments to start several brand new multiplexes in the country due to public demand, before the pandemic changed the reality - as a twisted result, not generating any revenue for the last five months.
"We opened three new branches in 2018 and 2019 with high interest bank loans, and we were preparing to start our new branch in Mirpur this year. We have not been generating any income for five months, yet we cannot cut costs any further by layoffs or interest reduction. We need to open our theatres because if we don't, and receive the assistance we need - we might have to get lost into oblivion forever."
As possible solutions to the crisis, Ruhel presented a five-point demand to the government - 1. The theatres should be reopened immediately maintaining proper health regulations; 2. Immediate announcement of financial assistance or incentives; 3. Reduction of vat and taxes on movie tickets; 4. Approval for interest-free loans from banks and 5. Allowing to import films that are made in South Asian subcontinent languages without any conditions.
Apart from these demands, Ruhel also urged for the remission of theatre rents during the pandemic and proposed to pay half the rents going forward till the situation gets back to normal, addressing the Bashundhara City (Panthapath), Shimanto Shambhar (Dhanmondi) and SKS Tower (Mohakhali) authorities where the Cineplex branches are located in the capital.
Ruhel also urged the Producer's Guild to take steps for releasing the lined-up unreleased, new films that have been cleared by the censor board, in order to cater the audiences once the theatres get reopened.
"Cineplexes and halls have already been reopened in many countries around the world, including China, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia - and also scheduled to be reopened in India this month. Additionally, the governments of different countries are also providing financial assistance to compensate for the loss related to culture and entertainment. The US Senate has passed a 2 trillion financial aid bill for the damaged movie and theater sectors, the French Ministry of Culture has allocated 5 billion euros,” he said
“In a culturally enriched country like Bangladesh, the sincere support of the government is necessary to keep this sector and business alive in this crucial time", Ruhel further added.
Star Cineplex started its journey in 2004 at Bashundhara City as the first multiplex in Bangladesh.