Film on Pak-Bangla love story removed from Bangladesh theatres

Pallab Bhattacharya (With Pix)

New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Bangladeshi director RubaiyatHossain''s debut feature film about a Bangladeshi woman''s loveaffair with a Pakistani soldier during the 1971 Liberation Warhas triggered a fierce controversy forcing its distributorto take the movie off cinema halls across Bangladesh a weekafter its release.

The director fears that the film, whose cast includesveteran actors Victor Banerjee and Jaya Bachchan in lead rolesalong with Bangladeshi and Pakistani actors, could be bannedif suggestions to this effect from certain quarters isaccepted by Bangladesh government.

"I apprehend that my film could be banned. In thatcase, where do I go"? Rubaiyat, daughter of BangladeshCommunication Minister Abul Hossain, told PTI over phone fromDhaka.

She said it is really unfortunate that the film waspulled down from theatres and claimed it was doing well at thebox office.

The film, however, earned critical acclaim for thepowerful performance by Victor Banerjee as the grandfather ofMeher, Jaya Bachchan in the role of older Meher and veteranBangladeshi actor Humayun Faridee.

Interestingly, when asked in an interview with PTIearlier, the director of Meherjaan said she did not thinkportraying the love affair between a Pakistani soldier and aBangladeshi woman would create a controversy.

"Meherjaan" had hit six theatres on January 21 but waspulled out on January 28 by its distributor AashirbadChalachitram owned by Habibur Rahman, said Rubaiyat.

She said the distributor obviously did not want totake any risk in view of the adverse criticism and reviews thefilm on the affair between the Balochi soldier and youngMeher, a Bangladeshi woman, received.

The distributor of the film "Meherjaan" took it offthe theatres in the face of an allegation that the filmdistorted the history of the country''s independence war andhumiliated the freedom fighters and ''Biranganas''(Bangladeshi women who were raped by occupation Pakistanitroops during the Liberation War).

"We have decided to withdraw the movie from the twoDhaka theatre halls where it has been running considering thedebate regarding the movie," said Shihab Ahmed Siraji, thedistributor of the movie.

Shihab, the executive director of AashirbadChalachitra, however rejected reports that the government hadimposed a ban on the movie.

Soon after its release, "Meherjaan" drew sharpcriticism from many intellectuals and freedom fighters forallegedly distorting the independence war.

The Bangladesh Film Censor Board also came in for flakfor allowing many controversial scenes in "Meherjaan" thatcontradict the historical facts. .

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