Bangladeshi film industry has recently been accommodating different stories and plots here and there; however, space for experimental filmmaking is still scarce. In this context, Faridul Ahsan Shourav is a young experimental short filmmaker who has already bagged an array of lucrative international festival screening and critical acclamation. Through his lens, he has chiseled out the outdated practices of society and true face of the people behind the facade. Sadia Afrin Mridha writes about the young storyteller.
Experimental film is one of the most popular genres in world film, but this particular mode of filmmaking is still obsolete in Bangladesh. In this situation, we found a young filmamker, Faridul Ahsan Shourav, who has dedicated to make avant-grade films amid a frustrated urban society with the conventional plots and same story-telling style when diversity in our mainstream cinema is almost absent.
At present, Shourav is pursuing his masters in the Institute of Education and Research (IER) in University of Dhaka (DU). Shourav is also the president of DU’s IER Cine Club.
One of the most important views of Shourav’s work is perfection of the thoughts, not the skill of making or measurements. He believes on conceptual aspects, not on patience or lots of pre and post production by directors. Through his innovative films, he wants to stun down the time and challenge the society.
There is no implementation or emphasis on glamour in Shourav’s film. He doesn’t allow using technological terms; neither does he use editing and visual effects out of its demand. It is clear that, he is not fond of adapting unnecessary style in his films. He adapted these characteristics after being inspired by filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi, a few of his idols.
A recent achievement of Shourav is being selected as a young jury in ‘International Reel Youth Film Festival 2017-18’ at Canada’s Vancouver. As a Bangladeshi national, he is proud to be able to represent his country in the role of a juror in an international platform. Besides taking film submissions in this circuit, Reel Youth Film Festival invited young film critics who are interested to be judges in the festival. The organisers received more than three thousand applications from different countries. From the applications, 93 youths from 16 countries were finalized as the jurors of the festival. Shourav is one of them.
Now, moving on to Shourav’s films, his first film had been ‘Black Magician’, a horror film first telecasted at a film festival in the United States of America around November 2013. ‘Dead's Circus’ is yet another of his works; a satirical short film where the multi-faceted inconsistencies of our society have been portrayed centring on a road accident. As a film, ‘Dead’s Circus’ is alternative to traditional narratives. The film rigorously re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores non-narrative forms based on a new development out of technical resources. Packed with some improvisational acts, we see the rest of the performance rolls in rather organically.
Shourav views the ‘art of cinema’ as much more than just a motion picture, and rather a public display and treatment of reality. As such, at set, he is often seen avoiding norms like ‘action’ or ‘cut’. He keeps it organic. He adds more to this essence of production as he approaches his aforementioned film without ‘pre-production’, deeming it perhaps even unnecessary in its context.
Shourav’s obsession with films started right after being enrolled in university. While exploring his new campus during the fresher year, he got acquainted with several peer film enthusiasts and critics. He found many likeminded people during his campus days and that is how his journey into film making started. He has also worked as a feature writer at the Daily Ittefaq. Filmmaking and film critiquing are some of his most favourite things to do.
Shourav won prizes in several international film festivals for his short films. Among those, ‘Soul of The City’, ‘Standpoint’ and ‘Protibhas’ are specially accliamated. He has also served as a juror at several national and international film festivals.
In the 11th Children’s Film Festival 2018, his short film ‘The Revelation’ received official selection under the y outh category. Inspired from Satyajit Ray’s short story ‘Purashkar’, this short film has received wide critical acclamation. It was also showed in Jaipur’s Piggybank International Film Festival, Assam’s largest film festival NCP International Film Festival, Italy’s Cifalo Film Festival and United Kingdom’s Cardiff International Film Festival.
In 2016, Shourav’s short film ‘Standpoint’ received an award from North South University’s Cine & Drama Club for being the best short film at their Inter University Short Film Festival, IUSFF 2016. On the same year, the short film won the title of being the best experimental short film out of 256 submissions from 78 countries worldwide.
Another one of his short films named ‘Chess’ also stirred critiques on international level. This short film is about racism and class discrimination and was screened in Bangladesh’s 10th Children’s Film Festival, Creative Internatioanl Open Film Festival, Bulgaria’s Earlybird International Film Festival and India’s All Lights Indian Film Festival alongside 19 other film festivals in 12 other countries.
The latest short film made by Shourav is about marital rape, which is rape of wives by their husbands. The marital bliss of the seemingly happy couple as seen in the day may vanish in the darkness of the night. The short film entitled ‘Camouflage’ attempts to portray the physical and mental tortures that women suffer and have to silently accept by their partners. A recent survey in Bangladesh shows that 80% married women are molested or forced to submit to sexual intercourse by their husbands. We see only the masquerade but not the oppression, molestation and despair they endure.
After finishing his academic pursuits, Shourav aspires to become a filmmaker in the future. Alongside short films, Shourav also hopes to create feature films and documentaries. He is enthusiastic about creating more experimental film projects. In the future, he would also like to take an opportuity to study filmmaking.
When asked about the ideologies behind film-making and what he intended to achieve through it, Shourav said, “I simply want to tell my story; the story that I see and I want others to see. I do not believe people’s perspectives and values can change overnight simply by watching a movie, neither do I reckon that my content is able to do so.” He emphasized on the growing needs of alternative ways of ‘storytelling’ through innovative practices of cinematography and direction. He went on to discuss how such innovative measures were being adapted elsewhere, say in Iran, or even in our neighboring country India through discourses of films like Shobdo. He also stressed the importance of experimentation in films as a path to future film endeavors.
Sadia Afrin Mridha is a student of University of Dhaka.