Redoan Rony began his career as one of the Assistant Directors of Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, and a member of Chabial, the well-known film-maker’s club. Now he is one of the leading director’s of Bangladesh’s film industry with his own production house. His most recent work was for Robi and Airtel, among which he directed television commercial that can simultaneously show the theme of friendship during 1971 and also in 2018 at the click of a button. Redoan shared with Dhaka Tribune Showtime’s Al Faruque Ratul, how he began his career and the message he imprints in his films
When did you first decide to become a film-maker?
I took the decision to be a film-maker when I was studying for my intermediate exams. Since my father was a teacher, he had a lot of books of stories and literature. I read lots of books in my childhood because of that.
When one reads a book, one visualizes the story in one’s mind’s eye. So, in a manner of speaking, the practice of visualizing stories was already with me. At one point I felt I wanted to say or express some things. These things could be expressed through poems or even painting. However, film was the medium I chose, as it is a combination of different art forms.
So around the time of my intermediate exams I had this friend named Rana. He was very good looking, so I started planning to be a film-maker, and he would be an actor. Unfortunately, after one or two years Rana passed away in a road accident. After which I took a long gap, in which I did not want to do film-making any more. Then, very slowly, I again started getting back my motivation for aspiring to be a film-maker. I started looking for options to learn more of the craft.
How did you begin the process of learning film-making?
Well, the first thing I realized was that it was not something that can just be learned from books. It is a lot more technical. When I was in my first semester studying at Brac University, I was searching all over for a director from whom I could learn. This was the time when Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Giasuddin Selim’s work was becoming very popular in ETV. So I managed to find an email address of Farooki bhai on the internet. There was no Facebook at that time.
I sent him a very long email. It was so long I was thinking that he might read it or he may not. But I knew that if he read it, then he would reply. I had no computer then. So I used to check my email at the computer lab every day. I was surprised to find a reply to that email after seven or eight days, and it also had Farooki bhai’s number.
I would call him regularly to get work. At that time Farooki bhai did not have such a great situation, where he could take a lot of assistant directors (AD). We were the first ones to work as AD for Farooki bhai. There was an opportunity to work as an AD for a daily serial called “69.” So that is how I began work and started learning. I worked as an AD of Farooki bhai for three years. My first work as a director was in the film “Urojahaj” in 2006.
How many of your co ADs have become your competitors in the film industry now?
Chabial has this unique thing about it, which is, that if you look behind the good quality work currently in the market, at least 60% comes from that house. Or somehow the work is involved with Chabial, whether you are talking of a television commercial or a show.
The strange thing is, all of us in the industry who made our start at Chabial, we never think of ourselves as competitors to each other. When we worked together, we actually lived in the same house. I think the film schooling we got was not received by anyone else in Bangladesh. I believe we were very lucky. The house in which we were shooting for “69,” we actually used to live in that same house too. So, it was like 10 people came to work there with dreams of becoming film-makers, and everyone was practicing shooting in the same house while living there. Everyone was also discussing and arguing about films together. A bond was created among us all at that time. When we all began our respective professional lives, it sometimes comes to pass that Adnan and I are bidding for the same work, or Ashfak Nipun and I were bidding for the same work. Our relationship never deteriorated with such bidding. We never get jealous if the other one gets the work.
What happens more often than not is that after getting a job, we end up sitting together to discuss the work, to see if we can make it even better. We try to help each other as much as we can. This cooperative relationship developed in us quite automatically. You will notice that now and then we have festivals such as Chabial Utshob, Chabial Express, Bhai Brother Express, and so on. On those occasions we direct seven or eight productions together. We are all each other’s competitors in that project, in a manner of speaking, but we still sit down with the plot. We dissect shots. We discuss casting. The bond between us has been very strong.
It is not like everyone became great directors after coming out from that set-up. Some even went to different professions. Shohagh used to work with us, who is now running Mermaid Resort. Those who are in film-making, I would say 90% of them do good work; at least those who came from Chabial.
What philosophy or lesson do you want to put out with your films?
I actually came into this line of work because I wanted to have a message. As I mentioned before, my reason for coming to this line of work was to express or tell something to society as a whole.
In each of the stories I direct, I do try to give some kind of a lesson or message. In some stories the lesson is very strongly preached. It literally is “in-your-face.” In some stories I just try to make people think more than they speak, so that viewers watch the story and feel something inside. Each work is different, but each of them has a commentary from me. The lesson could even be the lack of a strong message. Sometimes I create a strong emotion through a story, without any lesson.
If you think about my first film “Chorabali,” I wanted to give a strong lesson or a message to society, since it was a feature film. The message was about what happens when a professional killer starts feeling guilty about all of his past actions. If a killer knew how much damage he or she is doing to their victim’s life and family, then he would not be able to carry on. He would be incapable of realizing his goal. So, while writing the script my goal was to ensure that, if a professional killer watched the film, then he should at least have to think twice before committing his next kill. This is how I try to express my messages.