For the last 19 years, Amar Bhashar Cholochitro has effectively drawn in film lovers from all over the capital
The TSC premises of Dhaka University, decorated in festive colours and embellished with banners of timeless Bangla cinemas, became a haven for film enthusiasts throughout the five-day-long festival Amar Bhashar Cholochitro 1426, organized by Dhaka University Film Society (DUFS).
Students waiting enthusiastically in long queues to buy film tickets was a common sight for the past few days at TSC. When the seats became filled, they often took to the floor of the venue without hesitation. And 'House Full' signs were regularly seen hanging from the entrance door.
The festival began on February 9 and concluded on February 13.
Anjan Dutt pays a visit
Renowned film-maker and musician Anjan Dutt attended the screening of his film Finally, Bhalobasha on the fourth day of the festival.
People from all ages, especially youngsters swarmed the TSC premises to get a glimpse of the legend. He engaged in intimate discussion sessions with his fans and kept them on the edge of their seats. A wave of silence occasionally washed over them as they intently listened to Dutt sharing insights about his craft.
Organizers of this festival must have taken pride in these brief moments of beauty, and rightly so.
Leading the film society movement
For the last 19 years, Amar Bhashar Cholochitro has effectively drawn in film lovers from all over the capital. DUFS has managed to provide a platform where artists and fans have the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations about the colourful realm of cinema. This year was no different.
Zafar, a cast member of Keyamat Theke Keyamat, was present at multiple screenings. He said:
"My life is busy as it is. But I keep coming back even at this age only to watch crowds cheering for Bangla cinema, and that sight alone encourages me to go on as an artist."
During the inauguration event, the President of the Federation of Film Societies in Bangladesh Lailun Nahar Sammi said: "Festivals like Amar Bhashar Cholochitro serve no special business interests. If we want to revive our film industry, this is the direction we need to take.
"I have been a part of the film society movement since the '60s. And I can't tell you how proud I am to see DUFS leading our fight for the soul of Bangla cinema."
Selim, a middle-aged water-seller in shabby clothes, was seen attending all the film screenings. When the organizers tried to give him free passes, he politely rejected the offer saying, "Cinema is what ruined my life, but it also saved me for more than once. The least I can do now is buy the tickets just like everyone else."
Witnessing a university-based film society organizing large-scale festivals, breaking boundaries and tirelessly advancing the film movement in Bangladesh out of today's stalemate has been nothing short of a miracle.
Celebration of Bangla Cinema
From February 9-13, festival-goers were seen rushing in droves to catch the screenings. An air of nostalgia permeated TSC as film lovers came together to celebrate Bangla cinema. Inside the auditorium, all eyes set on the big screens were brimming with joy.
While talking about his love-hate relationship with Hollywood, Sean Penn once famously said:
"The girl I fell in love with was going into a movie theatre in the dark with strangers and seeing something that might last forever."
Penn has of course outgrown that love. What about us?
It seems safe to say that we are long past the heyday of Bangla cinema. But festivals like Amar Bhashar Cholochitro serve as powerful reminders that our once vibrant film industry spawned an astonishing number of remarkable films, that our cinema history is immensely rich and that the love we have for dark theatres filled with strangers is very much worth holding onto even today.