No filmmaker should experience what I did: Farooki
After getting the clearance for his much-anticipated film ‘Shonibar Bikel’ (Saturday Afternoon) from Bangladesh Film Censor Board on Saturday afternoon, acclaimed filmmaker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki said that he is thankful but does not want any filmmaker to experience what he had to endure film for the last four years. “I feel relieved to get this news finally after all these years. At the same time, I just want to say that whatever I have gone through for this film - I don’t want any filmmaker to go through those,” Farooki told UNB on Saturday. For the last four years, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s 8th directorial film Shonibar Bikel - a Bangladeshi-German-Russian co-production, a political thriller inspired by the 2016 Holey Artisan massacre in Gulshan shot almost entirely in a single take, was stuck and denied the censor certificate from Bangladesh Film Censor Board. It features an ensemble cast of Nusrat Imrose Tisha, Zahid Hasan, Mamunur Rashid, Iresh Zaker, Nader Chowdhury, Gousul Alam Shaon, Indian-Bengali film actor-director Parambrata Chatterjee and Palestinian actor Eyad Hourani in the lead characters, and received multiple awards at different festivals across the world since being ready for its theatrical release in 2019. Read: ‘Shonibar Bikel’ gets censor clearance on a Saturday afternoon Despite the filmmaker claiming several times that the film was fictionalised based on the incident and not direct documentation of the event, Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud previously stated that the Bangladesh Film Censor Board did not grant the film its censorship as the board's members at the time considered a number of factors, including the internal security and external reputation of the nation. He also stated that the film did not properly highlight the contribution of members of the police, RAB and army during the 2016 Holy Artisan attack. “Unfortunately, it has been banned in Bangladesh on the grounds it could “damage the country’s reputation” and incite religious hatred. The only thing this Bangladesh-Germany co-prod could do to the country’s reputation is improving it, and its plea for religious tolerance is nothing short of touching. While the body of the film is shot in a single, excited take, it opens with a series of shots emphasizing the deceptive stillness of Dhaka on a lazy Saturday morning,” The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film in May 2019. Although Farooki and Shonibar Bikel continued fighting for its approval and censor certificate, Bollywood, in the meantime, moved forward with the movie ‘Faraaz’. The Hansal Mehta directorial is based on the same incident and is scheduled to have its theatres release in India on February 3, and the film narrates a more direct reflection of the actual event than ‘Shonibar Bikel’, many audiences and film observers opined after the release of its theatrical trailer. Read: Holey Artisan victim's mother vows to fight release of Bollywood film on tragedy When Shonibar Bikel's clearance was not granted before ‘Faraaz’, Farooki and numerous other acclaimed and renowned artists, cultural personalities and filmmakers expressed dissatisfaction with the media and demanded justice for the film. The filmmaker and associates raised their united voice in two major events in the past year against the ‘unnecessary censorship’ and injustice against the film - first at a unique press conference on August titled “Golpo Bolar Swadhinata Chai” at the Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital, and also at the maiden edition of the daylong summit on December 30 titled ‘FAB Fest 2022’, organised by Film Alliance Bangladesh, a think-tank comprising stakeholders in the film industry and media professionals of the country. Finally, when the release date of ‘Faraaz’ was announced and the trailer of the film got released on the T-Series YouTube channel last week, a united outrage cast over the social media platforms and many urged the censor board to rewatch and review the decision. Read More: Holey Artisan Victim Faraaz's Heroism is Now on the Silver Screen The members of the appeal board - consisting of actress and lawmaker Suborna Mustafa, Jatiya Press Club general secretary and former censor board vice chairman Shyamal Dutta, eminent silver screen actress Sucharita and former Additional Secretary Nurul Karim, saw the film on Saturday, before announcing that there are now no obligations to theatrically release the film. According to Shyamal Dutta, since the film is not an exact adaptation of the events of Holey Artisan, there is no obstacle to its release. There is no need to add or modify any scenes; the events of this film have nothing to do with the events that took place in Holey Artisan. This is not a direct depiction of the events of Holy Artisan, and the appeal board suggested the director make such a declaration before realising the film. “How does it feel to watch everyone else sprint while you remain still? I felt so useless for a very long time! Although I have no idea how it appears from the outside - but I can tell from the inside, there are no lonely people like artists. The feeling that engulfed me, along with my own worthlessness on ‘Shonibar Bikel’ for the past four years, was loneliness,” Farooki said, as his last theatrical work was the late Indian actor Irrfan Khan starrer 2017 film ‘Doob’ (No Bed of Roses), which was the Bangladeshi entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. Read More: Foreign envoys remember those killed in Holey Artisan attack Finally relieved with the clearance, Farooki told UNB: “I want to convey my gratitude to the Film Alliance of Bangladesh (FAB) alongside my colleagues and friends from the filmmaking community and most importantly, our audiences. Many people from different sectors of our society raised their voices for the film, and I am immensely grateful to all of them.” “To receive the film censor board's approval for ‘Shonibar Bikel’ - I had to wait four long years. I sincerely hope that no other filmmaker goes through something similar. The appeal board has yet to send us a formal letter regarding the censorship. We will complete all necessary procedures, include a disclaimer, and submit the letter after receiving it. We want the movie to be out on February 3 or sooner," Farooki said. Read More: Govt satisfied with Holey Artisan attack verdict: Law Minister.
Holey Artisan victim's mother vows to fight release of Bollywood film on tragedy
Three days after the trailer for Hansan Mehta’s much-talked-about Bollywood film ‘Faraaz’ was released, Ruba Ahmed, the mother of Abinta Kabir who was killed by militants in the Holey Artisan Attack on July 1, 2016, alongside Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, Tarishi Jain and Ishrat Akhond, among others, said that she is against releasing the film and will try to stop projecting the film in Bangladesh. Ahmed, who is already fighting a legal battle alongside Tarishi Jain’s mother in the Delhi High Court to stay the release of ‘Faraaz’ which is scheduled to hit theatres in India on February 3, said in a press conference at the Abinta Kabir Foundation on Thursday that the filmmakers have violated their privacy and made the film without their proper consent. “For the last six years, I have been dealing with the enormous pain of losing my only daughter, Abinta Kabir, whom we lost due to that horrific incident. When we first came to know in 2019 that Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt was planning to make a film on the incident, we sent him a letter to which he replied that he respects my decision and will not continue the film,” Ruba Ahmed said at the press conference. Stating that she was shocked to discover the poster of ‘Faraaz’, realising that the filmmakers did not stop making the film. She then contacted Hansal Mehta, director of the much-acclaimed biographical financial thriller television series ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story’ and asked about the project. “I asked him what gave him the right to make the movie as this incident happened in Bangladesh and it is being made in Bollywood, and he answered that he wanted to draw attention against violence through the film. My question is, a number of terrorist events took place in India between 2016 and 2023 - why can’t they make movies based on the events that happened in India?” Outlining her concerns about the film, Ruba Ahmed said, “We lost 22 people in that incident including Abinta Kabir, Tarishi Jain, and Faraz Hossain, to name a few. However, as the name also suggests, there is undoubtedly more emphasis on one character in the film. The filmmakers did not observe the incident in person, how could the film portray only one of them as a hero?” “In this film, they changed Abinta's name to Ayesha, Tarishi's name to Tari, and even I was also portrayed as Rabeya. In the trailer, they showed a riot scene where my daughter's picture was also visible. Without our consent, how they got the right to invade and violate our privacy?” she questioned. At the press conference, she was also asked about Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s much-talked-about film ‘Shonibar Bikel’ (Saturday Afternoon) which is also fictionalized on the same incident and battling with Bangladesh Film Censor Board for its release since 2019. "Farooki received my legal notice and responded to me. The decision to proceed with the film now totally rests with the Bangladeshi government and the censor board," she said. “I don’t want anyone to imagine the pain of witnessing your daughter's last moment on the silver screen. This movie should not come to Bangladesh. This type of personal tragedy should not be screened on Netflix or Amazon or any other OTT platform," Ruba Ahmed said at the press conference. Produced by T-Series and Benaras Media Works, ‘Faraaz’ features an ensemble cast with six newcomers including legendary Indian actor Shashi Kapoor’s grandson Zahaan Kapoor marking his Bollywood debut in the title character. The film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival on October 15 last year. The release date was finalised after the Delhi High Court recently refused to grant a stay for release in a suit filed by the mothers of Abinta Kabir and Tarishi Jain, who claimed their right to privacy with respect to their deceased daughters. “To ensure that the film doesn't get to come to Bangladesh, I will go to the Supreme Court of India," Ruba Ahmed said. Read more: Holey Artisan Victim Faraaz's Heroism is Now on the Silver Screen
Censor Board can question films showing half-truths: Hasan on 'Shonibar Bikel'
Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud on Thursday said that the Bangladesh Film Censor Board can question if a film is made based on true events but doesn’t show the complete truth. The minister said this at the Secretariat replying to journalists when asked about the necessity of censor board in Bangladesh in light of banning director Mostafa Sarwar Farooki's film "Shonibar Bikel", loosely based on Gulshan Holey Artisan Bakery attack. “India has the largest film industry and it has censor boards for each of its states. Censor board is a must and those who question its necessity their understanding of it itself is questionable,” added Hasan. Also read: 'Golpo Bolar Swadhinata Chai': Artists place five-point demands Bangladesh has a censor board since the birth of film industry in Bangladesh and it will remain so, he said. “We keep it under surveillance so that censor board doesn’t take any unnecessary steps. Questions that have been raised regarding censor board are being inspected,” Hasan added. About the film grant, he said, “The grant is not only to provide for art films ignoring the mainstream ones. Grants are for all types of movies and it should be admitted that of all genres, mainstreams are mainly the commercial films.” He said cases have been filed against all those who did not produce the films they received grant for. “At first notices were served, then when non-complying, cases were filed. After that many who failed have refunded money whole some of them arr now making the films,” he said.
Foreign envoys remember those killed in Holey Artisan attack
Foreign envoys stationed in Dhaka on Friday paid homage to 22 people who lost their lives during the Holey Artisan Bakery attack on July 1, 2016. To mark the sixth anniversary of the attack, Japan's Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas joined the Italian embassy in Dhaka in honoring the individuals who lost their lives. Read: Holey Artisan Victim Faraaz's Heroism is Now on the Silver Screen "We remember Abinta Kabir, a U.S.-Bangladeshi dual citizen and student at Emory University, as well as her Emory classmate Faraaz Hossain, who even when given the chance to save himself chose to remain with his friends," said the US embassy in Dhaka.
Holey Artisan Victim Faraaz's Heroism is Now on the Silver Screen
Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain gave his life rather than leave behind his friends. A movie is being made in Bollywood portraying the heroism and sacrifice of Faraaz. On July 1, 2016, a brutal militant attack took place at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan. A total of 26 people were killed in the attack, including 17 foreigners, two police officers, and six gunmen. According to the T-Series, one of the largest production companies in India, the movie "Faraaz" will feature the story of the Holey Artisan massacre. Dhaka's Holey Artisan Cafe Attack at a Glance On the night of the incident, five militants Rohan Imtiaz, Nibras Islam, Mir Samih Mobasher, Khairul Islam Payel, and Shafiqul Islam Uzzal, went to Gulshan Road No. 79 from a house in Bashundhara residential area. Five people entered the restaurant with weapons and bombs in their bags at around 9 pm. As soon as they entered, they randomly fired at foreigners sitting at various tables there. Further, the terrorists also hit them in the neck and body with a sharp weapon to ensure death. The militants shot and killed the Italians as they entered a large room downstairs. They then shot and killed the foreigners sitting on chairs and tables inside the rest of the rooms. The militants took hostage more than 50 local and foreign men and women inside the cafe. They then search for the foreigners hiding in bakery bathrooms, toilets, ceilings, kitchens, chiller rooms and shoot them dead. Moreover, those with serious injuries were also stabbed to death with sharp knives. Read: Coming soon: A Bollywood film on Dhaka cafe massacre! At the same time, they took hostage the family of a man named Hasnat Karim sitting at the bakery table, an Indian citizen named Saat Prakash, Tahmid, and his two friends. Later, they took about 15 bakery workers hostage.
Holey Artisan Attack: 8 accused brought to court
All eight accused in the Holey Artisan café attack case were brought to the court amid tight security on Wednesday morning.
Holey Artisan attack: Court set to deliver verdict Wednesday
The much-awaited verdict in the sensational case over the Holey Artisan café attack that claimed the lives of 22 people, including 17 foreign nationals, will be delivered on Wednesday. Judge of the Dhaka Anti-terrorism Special Tribunal Mohammad Mujibur Rahman is set to pronounce the judgment.
Holey Artisan Attack: Tribunal set to deliver verdict Nov 27
A tribunal here on Sunday set November 27 for delivering its verdict in the sensational case over Holey Artisan café attack that claimed the lives of 22 people, including 17 of foreign nationals.