The gross negligence displayed by a film production team led to a man losing his means of livelihood, his family and his status. This is not the plot of a bad film. It is as real as it can get.
“Rajneeti,” an Eid-ul-Fitr special feature film released in July, had a scene where Shakib Khan lecherously gave his phone number to Opu Bishwas. Throngs of crazed fans believed it was the number of Bangladesh’s “King Khan”.
So they called. And called. And they kept calling.
Izazul Miah was a humble man getting by as a mason in Habiganj’s Baniachong village. He led a quiet life, until his phone could not stop ringing. It would ring day and night, and whenever he answered, the query was the same: “Shakib Khan? I am your biggest fan!”
The number Shakib had given on screen to Opu belonged to Izazul in reality. Did the director, Bulbul Bishwas, think people would actually call the number? No. He claimed the number had not been in use for around five years; hence they went with it.
But Izazul says otherwise. The spree of calls meant his clients, the people who provided him with job contracts, could not reach him. His phone always remained busy. As he began losing all his work, he was forced to sell off a Tk2 lakh autorickshaw to clear his debts.
When he managed to call his clients, they would merely say: “You were not reachable, so we gave the work to someone else.”
His professional life was in jeopardy, soon to be joined by his personal life.
Shakib Khan has a huge fan base in Bangladesh. Like most film stars, he has a devoted group of female fans who fawn over him. The overwhelming number of women calling Izazul angered his wife, who accused him of adultery.
“You must be having an affair! Why else would so many women call you so late at night?” she shouted at him, before leaving him.
Izazul’s name was smeared with rumours after his wife left. His co-workers, family and friends were annoyed by the slew of calls he was receiving every hour. He did not know why people were calling him and expecting “Number One” Shakib Khan to pick up.
Then, one day, a village acquaintance called. When they realised they knew each other, Izazul asked him how he got a hold of this number. The acquaintance swore and said he found the number from a Shakib Khan film named “Rajneeti.”
Izazul went to see the film, and was appalled by the use of his number on screen.
He was upset. Had the producers called him and asked to use his number, he would have agreed, he says. But not informing him, and more importantly, costing him his livelihood and his wife, was too far and too callous.
The director of the film claimed he had issued an apologetic statement in the press after knowing of the suffering caused by this gross mistake. But the statement remains to be seen.
The tumultuous fallout of a scene from “Rajneeti” is far superior to the plot of the film itself.