Of Aparajita and Sufia KamalPunny Kabir
Today is the 101st birth anniversary of Begum Sufia Kamal, an eminent poet, litterateur, feminist and social worker. She was born in Barisal on 20 June, 1911 and died at the age of 88 on 20 November, 1999.
Sufia Kamal, who dedicated herself in protecting women’s rights in society, is still a beacon of hope for the younger generation. The life sketch of the icon of women’s rights has been archived through Aparijita, a documentary film directed by Manzare Hasin Murad, which was released in 2004.
New Age recently talked with Murad regarding the motto, research, and behind-the-screen facts of the film. ‘Sufia Kamal is such a figure whose biography doesn’t only reflect her personal works rather it’s a representation of the society’s social, political and cultural history of almost 100 years,’ said Murad.
He further added, ‘From the reality of undivided Bangla to political uprising during British reign, from partition of Bangla to movements during Pakistan rule, from the war of independence to post-war condition—almost all the significant political, social and cultural dimension were closely knotted in her works.’
Aparajita starts with the scene when the coffin of Sufia Kamal is taken to the Central Shaheed Minar Premises to give her a national honour. During the scene a poem by Shamsur Rahman dedicated to Sufia and recited by Bhashwar Bandopadhyay as a background track. The film continues with her autobiography in an interview form. Murad has tried to uphold her life by showing live footage and some childhood photographs of Sufia Kamal in the documentary.
In the film, Sufia Kamal’s life sketch has been presented from different aspects—from her journey as a poet, her activities in Mahila Parishad, the struggle that she undertook for the country and the women and also her household chores.
‘I have used photographs collected from National Archive of Kolkata, Bangla Academy, Sufia’s personal collection and from different photojournalists, especially from the iconic one Rashid Talukder portraying some unique moments of Sufia Kamal’s life. Many of the photographs were also taken by me during different social gatherings and public meetings in different times,’ informed Murad.
According to Murad, Sufia Kamal has always been a source of inspiration to him which made him to initiate a documentary of her. ‘Aparajita is the only film on her biography so far, which highlights her creativity and her determinations to initiate social movements at a time when women from conservative and affluent Muslim families were confined to four walls. She has also played significant role in protesting against communalism and religious fundamentalism to build a class-free society through her literary works,’ said
About his personal experience while working for the documentary, Murad said, ‘Getting access to Begum Sufia Kamal was never tough for me as she was an open minded person. Moreover, we used to work together at Chhayanaut, of which she was the founder president. However, her illness at the old age was a challenge, especially between 1989 and 1991.’
Murad recalled, ‘Though she was a soft-spoken person, she was always bold and uncompromising to her belief and philosophy. I considered myself privileged as I got to know her more closely through the making of the movie.’
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