Film movement to incite hope and empathy

‘Chalachchitra Andolan’ or ‘Film Movement’ is a student-run film organisation of Jahangirnagar University. Members of this organisation are working for a long time to cultivate a mind to watch film. After talking with these young, energetic students Shabab Tahsin writes about their film activism and the journey with film movement.

‘Culture [for us] is the audacity to resist’ — is how ‘Chalachchitra Andolan (Film Movement)’ has defined culture.  It is a student-run film organisation of Jahangirnagar University works with to uphold film as a tool to protest against social injustice and create awareness around issues of social concern. It was founded in June 29, 2004. From the beginning, the organization is maintaining two regular activities. Firstly, to watch at least two films a week to have internal discussion on the stories, theories and secondly, to organise screening of films that are not commercially successful but socially, politically significant.

The main organising body of ‘Andolan’ believes that persons connected with film organisations should have eye to filter. Filtering not according to category or genre, but they should have the perfect understanding of what are relevant at the moment, what makes a movie unique. The primary motive behind screening of a movie is not pleasure, but to educate ourselves and to engage with each other. Human being can’t live alone. S/he lives with others, lives for others. But, the social system is leading people, especially the youth, more specifically students to isolation and detachment. Students are increasingly becoming individuated. Bring them out from such alienation and connect them with the society is one of the greatest purposes of the organisation. Moreover, make them aware of the social responsibilities.

‘Art for art’s sake is less prioritised here. We prioritised art for society’s sake. Our movement is to emancipate people from the manacle of false comfort in consumerism and fantasy. We hope to do so with film. So, the name of our organisation is ‘Chalachchitra Andolan,’ said Mashiur Rahman, the president of the organisation.

15994331_746306292193019_22It is very tough to make a full length film for a student run organisation because of some difficulties like short time span of a committee and other technical matters. Therefore, ‘Andolan’ has three particular purposes: to create eyes and mind to watch film; arranging seminar and study circle on theoretical ideas of film; and, introductory technical skill development for film making.

‘Andolon’ arrange seminar on frame, lightning, transformation of cinematography from silent movie to talkies. One of their objectives is to create interest among young generation to make film, to think on film. Many shows have been arranged at Bottola in Jahangirnagar University. In recent times, around 26 films including ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara,’ ‘Hirok Rajar Deshe,’  ‘Taste of Cherry’ and ‘The Wind Will Carry Us’ were screened. The president said that, in Bottola, perhaps one person has watched a film for 10-15 minutes and left the place because of being over-crowded and open. But it has opened a door of new thoughts for him or her. S/he may watch the film later.

Film is particularly promising tool for social change in our times because technology has made in some way film-making doable with limited resources. Even in small towns, young generation is making short films. ‘Andolan’ is planning on organising a short film contest from all over the country, so that they will connect with the larger young mass and their ideas on film making. It’s going to take place in August, 2017. It already has taken initiative to show a film publicly in an open place once a month, watch two films internally and arrange a discussion once a week and to hold a seminar once a month. A journal is also going to be published combining the thoughts of teachers, students, committee members, and students from other campuses. Two journals are to be published a year and two film fests and some pathchokros (study circles) to be arranged within some days.

The first decade of twenty first century has seen a turn towards the worst in the film industry of Bangladesh. Stories fall short of depth; they are rather tantalising and sexually objectify women in the name of commercial success. Following bollywood industry ‘spicy and item’ songs has also become a tradition in Bangladesh to draw audience to the nearly dead theater. The audience will not remember the film. They are just made and watched for immediate pleasure.

Film is a shadow of life. If there is no good story in a film, how it can be said a good film! The content of the film is irrelevant to the songs of the film. They are imputed so technically, even the audience can’t discover the irrelevance. The beat of the song is getting more importance than the theme, lyric, meaningful diction of it. That doesn’t mean that only the didactic films without entertainment are the best and it must not contain any entertaining songs. But the story of life should be told in a film. The entertainment should combine pleasure and some thoughts of life as well. The organization creates interest to develop an analytical mind: what should be taken from a film, deriving pleasure, being connected to people and grow some sense of sensibility and social responses. Not only watching film is enough, but also having some critical study on it is necessary according to the president, Moshiur Rahman. Along the same line, he talks of some subtle ways Tarek Masud’s film ‘Matir Moyna’ criticised Bangladeshi society.

Watching films together broaden our field of understanding. If five members watch a film together, five different interpretations will come out and will be exchanged. A collective understanding will be formed. This collective understanding will create a better idea of ‘what film is’ and ‘what film is for.’ The autobiography and writings of the greatest film directors of the world including Bangladesh and Indian subcontinent should be read to enrich our understanding. Jahir Raihan, Tarek Masud, Styajit Roy, Hrittik Ghatak, and Abbas Kiarostami such film director’s films were arranged to show publicly. After showing Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami’s ‘Taste of Cherry’ and ‘The Wind Will Carry Us,’ many students came to know about him and began to watch his film. This is an apparent success of ‘Andolon.’

Regarding films, Ashfia Raman, a regular student of Jahangirnagar University says, ‘a person should know how to distinguish between reality and fantasy. There’s no problem in watching fantasy, just the capability of filtering after watching is important.’ Another student Shamanta says, ‘Old Bengali film had an appeal. They told the story of life. Jahir Raihan and later Tarek Masud were very good directors. We want to see their spirit among the young generation.’ One more audience, Jahirul Islam added, ‘A film or drama has the power to touch the sensibility of human soul. It can drive the heart. So, a film should have the content to motivate the young generation.’

The vice president of ‘Chalachchitra Andolan,’ Naimul Alam Mishu said, ‘Nowadays, when everywhere around us apathy and indifference is brewing, we work with the hope that a film or a segment of film may incite hope and create scope for reflection.’


Shabab Tahsin is a student of Jahangirnagar University.

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