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INTERVIEW OF RUHUL AMIN

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW OF RUHUL AMIN.

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'HASON RAJA' a GALAXY FILMS production

Now in development at Galaxy Films, 'Hason Raja' is a major feature based on the life and music of Dewan Hason Raja Choudhury (1855-1926). Hason Raja is renowned as one of the great mystic poets and folksinger of Bangladesh.
The poet's life was full of drama, colour and romance. He was a man of many contradictions and mysteries. His ancestors were Hindu Kahatriyas who migrated from Ayoudhya to Bengal in the 16th century. They became rulers of a rural kingdom and owners of much property in Sylhet and Dhaka. His great-grandfather converted to Islam and the family intermarried with aristocratic Muslims creating a new dynasty.
Tall and handsome, Hason was a glamorous figure. He inherited the property at an early age and at first indulged himself in every way: wearing gorgeous clothes: Seducing women; breeding horses and hawks; hiring musicians and dancing girls.
In his later life he turned away from riches, wore the simplest clothes and devoted himself to the pursuit of the Divine in every from. Leaving worldly responsibilities he became a wondering Sufi, singing of his love and longing. His songs and his mysticism are simple and direct, burning with passion and intensity. Drawing on Hindu, Sufi and Buddhist philosophies and images he fills his songs with powerful longing for spiritual union. This open-ness gives his work a very special meaning for today, with harmony so threatened by communal divisions. Often he sings as a woman, longing for her lover - a metaphor for his unquenchable thirst for the divine.
"I've died from the scorching fire of love and can't tolerate more
Whatever direction I look in I see only my Beloved
You are me, I am You. I've given up all fear
Hason Raja dances madly"
Tran. Eward Yazijian 1999
Rabindranath Tagore frequently acknowledged his debt to Hason Raja. This 'village poet' inspired the novel laureate's songs of union with the Divine and his lyrical celebration of the Bengali countryside. Like Tagore, Hason has left an enduring legacy. His simple but exquisite songs of love and longing are known and cherished wherever Bangla is spoken.
'Hason Raja' will be short on location in Bangladesh. The stunning countryside and powerful rivers, colourful villages and lively rural people will be important elements in this evocation of the lost tranquillity of 'golden Bengal'.
Director Ruhul Amin is well respected in the UK and Bangladesh for his documentary and feature work, including 'A Kind of English'. 'New-Eastenders', 'Movie-Walla'. Casting will draw on the best of established and new talent. The production team will include a leading UK cinematographer, as well as top composer and musicians.
 
 

The Hason Raja team
Director
Ruhul Amin is well respected in Britain and Bangladesh for his documentary and feature work, including 'New-Eastenders', 'Movie-Walla' and 'A Kind of English', which was commissioned in the UK by Channel 4 Television, premiered at the London Film Festival and enjoyed critical acclaimed at festivals around the world.
Cinematographer
Anil Mehta is best known for 'Lagaan', a 2002 Oscar nomination and the first Bollywood movie to be recognised by the US Academy. Like many of the cast and crew, Mehta's commitment to the Hason Raja project is as much personal as it is professional or commercial.
Writers
Sayeed Islam is Head of the English Department at Dhaka University and one of the world's foremost authorities on Hason Raja. In collaboration with Salim Aldin, Head of Arts at Jahangir Nagar University and author of many film and play scripts, he has created a powerful script which captures the *censor*c of 'golden Bengal' in the nineteenth century.
Musical Directors
Dr Buphen Hajarick is one of the greatest authorities on Bengali folk music and a household name in Bangladesh.
Choreographer
Soraj Khan is a leading Bombay choreographer whose credits include Hindi hit films Lagaan and Dilse.

The Cast
Mithun Chakraborty (Hason Raja) is a major figure in the commercial world of Bollywood cinema and the alternative Indian art-house scene. As a Bengali, he too brings his own personal passion and commitment to this project, as well as a lifetime's professional experience as a lead actor.
 
 
 
 

Ruhul Amin is known for creating sensitive, understated, poetic films centred around life in the Bengali community of East London.
A KING OF ENGLISH (1986) explores the myriad of complex relationships which develop within a family due to frustrations causes by unemployment, displacement and a longing or the homeland seen through the eyes of a nine-year old boy. His latest release is Rhythms; it is a lyrical film about an old man, a newly arrived bride and a young boy who are bound together in their common appreciation of traditional Bengali music.
The music offers a temporary respite and release from their loneliness and isolation. Ruhul’s talent is in his manipulation of cinematic
language – the fusion of rich, lingering images with the intensity with the intensity of silence. Often little is said but within “everything else”, he manages to evoke a sense of the passion which burns beneath the despair of living in this “cold climate”. His work has been likened to the early films of De Sica and Satyajit Ray.
Dr Sarita Malik (PhD)- interviews Ruhul Amin for BLACK FILM BULLETIN
a British film institute magazine. Autumn 1994
*This some background information.
__________________________________________________
Ruhul Amin and his film.
HASON RAJA.
Ruhul is one of the prolific Asian filmmaker in Britain.
In the beginning of 80s he came to Britain with his parents.
Within a year while he was at school he made his first
doc-drama “PURBO LONDON”
Since then he joined British film Industry and worked as an assistant. Later he attended National film and Television School.
In 1986 he made his first feature film for Channel 4 Television
entitled “A KIND OF ENGLISH”. The film was shown in the festival around the world and earned a critical acclaim. The film was compared with early work of De Sica and Satyajit Ray.
Since then he has made 13 films for BBC and Channel 4 TV.
Most of them are documentaries and experimental dramas.
Now he is making his epic Bengali film on the life of a rural Bengali folk poet who was around about hundred fifty years ago.
I talked to Ruhul on behalf of the East West magazine.
Maruf….
1) How much time do you spend thinking about Hason Raja?
In fact my entire pre-occupation is now Hason Raja. It is a kind of obsession and only way out is to make the film.
2) How would you describe you as a director?
I would say I am a committed and passionate filmmaker. I have a creative and artistic sensibility, which creates a burning desire to make film.
Cinema is a unique art form. It has an unimaginable creative possibility. I have a tremendous respect and love for that medium.
My endless effort is to learn and prepare myself as a creative filmmaker.
3) You are basically a UK based filmmaker. What made you to do a film in Bangladesh? Was the idea sparked after doing a film on the Bangladesh film industry for British TV?
I was also asked this question before. Most of the films I made for BBC and Channel 4 television are to do with our community. And often have written script based on Bangladesh. Once a commission editor asked me. You are a filmmaker from here, why Bangladesh?
To explain that in brief, it is partly to do with my childhood. Fortunately I spent my childhood in most beautiful part of Bangladesh. The place was surrounded by natural beauty and its beautiful communities like Manipuri and Nepali and the tribal people in the tea gardens. It was a vibrant cultural place.
As cinema is a visual medium, I think its formation took a deep root from that period.
Leaving in the concrete jungle of Britain there is a strong nostalgia towards that beautiful land, culture and its people.
4) To do anything good needs a long preparation and it takes time. But to do this Bengali film taking nearly 5 years…don’t you think you are taking too much time?
Yes, you are right it is taking lot of time. Main reason for this is the finance and that is beyond my control.
5) Why have you thought of Mithun Chakarborty as Hason Raja? Couldn’t you find anyone from Bangladesh?
Hason Raja is a legendary figure in our folk culture. To portray his charisma and dynamism you equally need another legend. And I think Mithun is the most appropriate performer to reincarnate Hason Raja on the screen.
6) For the purpose of making Hason Raja you met Mithun many times can you briefly describe Mithun as a person and as an actor?
I think I am not qualified enough to talk about Mithun.
Whole-heartedly Mithun is a Bengali. His ancestors are from Bangladesh. He struggled hard to establish him as a supper star in world of Hindi films and at the same time he wan three national awards by working in parallel cinema. He is undoubtedly a leaving legend. He is a great man. He loves people and he loves Bangladesh very much.
7) For the main female artist you thought of Rani and Nandita and also met them. Why are they out from your film?
Casting is a complicated process. Lots of factors are involved. E.g. artistic, financial and practical. Yes I met them and they also have shown interest to work on Hason Raja. But we didn’t come to any final decision.
8)There are better actress then Raima. What is you reason behind casting her? Is it because her experience in Bollywood and her glamour?
Of course there are wonderful performer in Bangladesh. Hason Raja depicts a particular historical time when it was culturally very vibrant. Amongst many qualities of a performer if some how any of the nuances strongly reflects any resonance with the character of the script then it is extremely fortunate. Raima Sen happen to be one of those. I haven’t seen any of her Hindi films. The glamour of our film doesn’t have any resemble with the glamour of Hindi films.
9) We heard A R Rahman was doing the music. Anil Mehta is doing the cinematography and Farah Khan is doing the choreography. Now we hear the other people are involved. Why is that?
Initially we thought of A R Rahaman and Fara Khan but didn’t finally proceed.
Anil Mehata is the cameraman of first Oscar nominated Indian film Lagan. I met him about two years ago and he became interested to work on Hason Raja. Infect gave us a shooting time which was last year, unfortunately we couldn’t gather our finance.
And now he is not free for another two years.
10) Why did you choose Buphen Hazarika instead of AR Rhaman?
About a year ago I went to Gauhati in Assam to meet Buphen Hazarika.
It was an overwhelming experience. His house situated on top of a beautiful mountain. He was so overjoyed by my arrival there. A Bengali from across seven seas? He took me on to a top hill beside his house and pointed beneath the mountain, “look that is my Bangladesh”.
We discussed in details of the composition and orchestrations of the music. At one point he said, Hason Raja is closed to my heart. In 1960 Buphen Hazarika, Nirmuladhu Chaudhary and Himango Biswas performed Hason Rajas’s songs in various part of India.
The folk music of Assam and our music has a unique bondage. Buphen da is an authority on folk music. We are extremely fortunate to have a revolutionary music director like Buphen Hazarika.
11) Already a film is made in Bangladesh by the name of Hason Raja. You film is on the same character in same name. Don’t you think this will create some confusion amongst the audiences? Have you thought of changing the name?
It is nearly 4 years since we started working on Hason Raja.
Stylistically this film is very different. Its arrangement is huge. The best and most talented arties and crafts man from Bangladesh and India are gathered. In that sense it is a revolution. You can make many films on the same subject. It depends on what new dimension you are bringing. Our audience are very sensitive and surely they will be able to distinguish the attraction of the different films.
12) Where is the shooting going to take place of the film?
The shooting of the film will take place in various region of Bangladesh. Particularly we will shoot a major portion around Sunam Gong and Joyonta. One of our main aims is to depict the rural beauty. And to do that we will travel all over Bangladesh.
13) Is any body is cast from UK?
We haven’t carried out the entire casting yet. It depends on the requirements of the script.
14) You are going to make the biggest budget film ever made in the history of Bangladesh film industry. Do you think there would be any hostile reaction from Dhallywood?
Bengalis are a dynamic race. And we have witnessed that through out the history. In terms of cinema we were not behind. We have created many distinguished filmmakers. Just think about that Black and white era? What a significant contribution.
People like me who are based in abroad and have training with the latest sophisticated cinema technology surely would be able to provide an opportunity for lot of talented people in the industry, who will be given an opportunity to be acquainted with the latest technology.
Big film needs big budget. In terms of marketing why should we just think about Bangladesh?
15) As far as we know. Your pervious films are made for mainstream British TV. This is for the first time you are gathering finance from investors. What are the difficulties are you facing?
Yes, all my previous work is for BBC and Channel 4 Television.
Never had to worry about the budget. There was a financial security.
Present project is a painful revolution.
People with lot of money are not showing any interest. People who are investing they are individuals from the community. For some of them it is their lifetime saving. They only want to see a good movie. They love their country so much. Just look at their previous generation? During the liberation war of Bangladesh how mush sacrifice they made?
Gathering money from them is a moving experience for me.
16) We heard Hason Raja will be the first epic film of Bangladesh. Does that mean there are no epic films made in Bangladesh?
Yes this is the first epic film of Bangladesh. Epic in its scale, depth and it’s spectacle. Its canvas is huge. There are battle sequences, boat races and colourful festivals. Literally thousands of people will participate in those sequences. It is in cinemascope and Dolby digital sound.
17) How long will it take to complete the film?
Shooting will start towards the end of this year. Twelve weeks shoot and then three months editing and rest is post-production.
Hopefully it will be ready by the middle of next year.
18)Is Hason Raja going to be distributed internationally?
International distribution is our priority. And already many distributors are waiting for the film.
19) When will the audience see Mithun as Hason Raja on the screen?
Hopefully towards the middle of next year you will be able to see Mithun as a reincarnation of Hason Raja.

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