Though Dhallywood was not mired in infighting and clashes as it was in 2017, this year saw a sharp slump in trade. Moreover, the number of films released also was the lowest in recent years.
Only 34 local films were released in 2018 — a record low in recent years. To compare, 56 films were released in 2016 and 2017, while 67 films in 2015.
Besides the local films, nine Tollywood films were also released under the SAFTA agreement.
Among the films released this year, very few could make a mark in terms of turnover and of audience response, while none of the nine imported films could make wave in the box office.
Jaya-starrer Debi, Shakib Khan-starrer Superhero and Captain Khan and Siam-starrer Poramon were successful in the box office, while a few other films such as Ekti Cinemar Galpo, Doob, Dahon, Swapnajal and Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale were acclaimed by film lovers.
Besides, a few feature and short films, released in 2018 and earlier, earned acclaim and bagged awards at a number of international film festivals this year. Among them were Haldaa, Kamola Rocket, Bhoy and others.
Granted that the industry experienced a very low tide in 2018, Bangladesh Film Directors’ Association president Mushfiqur Rahman Gulzar said, ‘The film industry is in decline for years, which now discourages producers to take up new ventures.’
‘There are many odds and anomalies in the industry which we have been pointing out for quite some time now. Even when a film attracts scores of viewers, its producers do not get his or her due owing to the anomalies,’ added Gulzar.
‘E-ticketing and better management of distributions are necessary in the industry. It is really disheartening to see that producers are deprived of their dues. If situation goes like this, producers will shy away from making films,’ said seasoned film producer Nasiruddin Dilu.
Industry insiders also accepted that most films failed to attract the viewers because they are made of low-quality stuff.
‘Nowadays, it is not possible to get viewers in cinemas with low-budget, typical Dhallywood films. Big budget films with a strong storyline and efficient making can still attract viewers,’ said producer Abdul Aziz, chairman of Jaaz Multimedia.
‘If we want to survive in the present scenario, we need to produce quality films,’ added Aziz.
Joint venture films, which caused much skirmishing in the industry in 2017 and made the government draft a new joint venture film policy in September 2017, are also in decline. Only two joint venture films — Balighar and Prem Amar 2 — are now in the pipeline.
‘Almost all joint venture films produced in the past few years were criticised on one ground or other. We have observed that some people always raise objections to joint venture films which is really discouraging,’ said Abdul Aziz, chairman of Jaaz Multimedia which has produced a number of joint venture films in the last few years.
Another worrying issue for the industry is continuous closing down of cinema halls by their owners.
‘Because of bearish business in the film industry, many cinemas are being closed down by owners. From over 1200 cinema halls in the 1980s, the number has dwindled down to a mere 250 now. This year, a few cinema halls also closed their doors to the audience,’ said Mia Alauddin, advisor to Bangladesh Film Exhibitors’ Association.
As last year’s dust settles amidst the tell-tale signs of an industry in crisis, there are emergent directors and producers who are dreaming of reviving the industry. One such director is Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, whose first film Aynabaji was a runaway hit couple of years ago. Now, he is all set to come back with his second film — Rickshaw Girl, ‘which would be the country’s first international production,’ according this ad maker turned film maker.
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