local films will not be able to compete
Since 1972, Bangladesh has banned the showing of Bollywood films in the country in order to protect its own film industry. A move by the commerce ministry on Saturday 24th April 2010 to lift the 38-year-old prohibition on Indian films has been stringently opposed and the ban is to remain.
The aim of the commerce ministry was to try boost the country’s struggling cinemas and film-making economy, but the attempt to allow Bollywood films to be shown in Bangladesh attracted a furious reaction by the local film making community.
The Bangladeshi film industry has been based in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, since 1956. As of 2004, it produced approximately 100 movies a year, with an average movie budget of about 6,500,000 Bangladeshi Taka (£61,455). The film industry like Hollywood, Bollywood, is sometimes known as Dhallywood.
Mukh O Mukhosh (The Face and the Mask) was the first Bengali language feature film to be made in Bangladesh, at the time known as East Pakistan. It was made in 1956 and produced by Iqbal Films and directed by Abdul Jabbar Khan. The film based on a play written by Abdul Jabbar Khan called Dakaat starred Inam Ahmed, Ali Mansoor, Zahrat Azra, Kazi Khaliq, Purnima, Saifuddin and Abdul Jabbar Khan himself.
Since then, other notable Bangladeshi films produced by Dhallywood include, Asia (1960), Surya Snan (1962), Eto Tuku Asha (1968), Dhire Bahey Meghna (1973), Surya Kanya (1975), Rang Baj (1973), Ki Je Kori (1975), Challenge (1983), Dahan (1985), Sagarika (1998), Danga (1992), Teji (1998), Ranga Bou (1998), Ammazan (2000), Moner Majhe Tumi (2003) and Bachelor (2003).
Some of the well known actors from the Dhallywood film industry include, Bobita (Farida Akhter) who during the 1970s and 1980s, she was the most popular actress in the country and she worked with legendary Indian director Satyajit Ray; Abdur Razzak, called Razzak, was considered as the top actor in Bangladeshi movie industry during the 1960-70s; Humayun Faridi, an actor in Bangladeshi TV drama, theatre and cinema, and Purnima a popular actress who’s most successful film was Moner Majhe Tumi released in 2003. New names include Farhana Mili, Chanchal Chowdhry, Ferdous and Riaz Ahamed.
Although most of the films made in Dhallywood are commercial, some prominent film directors have attained critical acclaim for their outstanding work. Including, Zahir Raihan, Khan Ataur Rahman, Salahuddin, Alamgir Kabir, Amjad Hussain, Moshiuddin Shaker, Sheikh Niyamat Ali, Humayun Ahmed, Morshedul Islam, Tanvir Mokammel and Tareque Masud
With regards to the attempts by the commerce ministry to remove the ban on Bollywood films, there was reaction from Kazi Firoz Rashid, president of Bangladesh Cinema Halls Owners Association. He told AFP, “Film enthusiasts can easily see good Indian films on cable television so why should we stop Indian films being screened in our cinemas?” He went on to say, “By contrast, the standards, scripts and production of Bangladeshi films are so stale and poor, they have trouble winning hearts or making enough money.”
The number of cinemas in Bangladesh has reduced from 1,600 in 2000 to 600 in 2010, showing low-budget and poorly made local films and in some cases, discreet soft English pornography.
And the appetite for Bollywood films has grown immensely, adding surges to the piracy market in Bangladesh for Bollywood DVDs and broadcasts of Indian films on cable television.
After the announcement, outraged Bangladeshi film-makers and performers took to the streets, holding demonstrations and warning that the move to allow South Asian films to enter Bangladeshi cinemas could wipe out over 25,000 jobs.
Actor and director Salahuddin Lavlo, told the New Age newspaper, “This decision will create an unequal competition in the country’s film industry as the budgets of Indian films are much bigger than that of ours.” He added, “The Indian film industry is so advanced that local films will not be able to compete with them.”
The actors and directors submitted a please against the ban to the prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina. Her spokesman, Abul Kalam Azad siad that her government was in complete support of the country’s film makers and that the commerce industry had been told to reverse its decision to lift the ban. a cabinet member quotes Hasina as saying, ‘The decision of allowing import and display of South Asian films has to be cancelled.’