Shongram

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Shongram
Shongram theatrical poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Munsur Ali
Produced by Munsur Ali
Amir Ahmed
Charlene Campbell
Screenplay by Munsur Ali
Billy Mackinnon
Story by Munsur Ali
Starring Anupam Kher
Asia Argento
Amaan Reza
Dilruba Yasmeen Ruhee
Arman Parvez Murad
Ananta Hira
Music by Armeen Musa
Emon Saha
Cinematography Lorenzo Levrini
Edited by Richard Gordon-Colebrooke
Production
company
Spotlight UK
Distributed by Shongram Motion Pictures
Release date
  • 28 March 2014 (2014-03-28) (Bangladesh)
  • 14 July 2014 (2014-07-14) (United Kingdom)
Running time
118 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Bangladesh
Language Bengali
English
Urdu
Budget £400,000 /
7 Crores

Shongram (Bengali: সংগ্রাম; 'Struggle'; classified under the name 71 er Shongram in Bangladesh) is a 2014 British romantic drama film written, directed and produced by Munsur Ali, stars Anupam Kher, Asia Argento, Amaan Reza and Dilruba Yasmeen Ruhee, and co-stars Arman Parvez Murad and Ananta Hira. The film depicts an English reporter speaking to an old freedom fighter who reveals his past, account, involvement, loss and struggle during the conflict of 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Plot[edit]

Set against the backdrop of present time in the UK, the storyline of the film shows the memories of an ailing British-Bangladeshi Muslim man Karim Uddin (Anupam Kher) recalling, recounting and sharing his horrific experiences during the war of independence on his hospital deathbed in an interview with daring British journalist Sarah (Asia Argento) in London.

The story focuses on flashback scenes of the war from the perspective of a young Karim (Amaan Reza) who falls in love with a beautiful young Hindu woman Asha (Dilruba Yasmeen Ruhee). His world is then torn apart when his peaceful village is interrupted by a war and he is separated from his girlfriend so he can do his duty. He is soon forced to join an underground band of freedom fighters after the genocide and abduction of innocent Bangladeshis and his girlfriend.

In a destructive whirlwind of mass murder, abductions, rape, and arson, Karim faces new challenges and decisions, attempts to serve his country, fight for his freedom and seeks revenge against the man who ruined his life before he can finally search for and save Asha.

Cast[edit]

  • Anupam Kher as Old Karim: A quiet, long suffering, ailing man who finally reveals his past, shares his experience and narrates the story in flashback.
  • Asia Argento as Sarah: A daring London journalist intending to report on undiscovered stories. She bonds with Old Karim who she sympathises with and believes his story needs to be told.
  • Amaan Reza as Karim: A young, cheery, childish and energetic village man with no goals in his life except trying to impress Asha. However, the war affects him and his village directly and forces him to mature quickly to survive and take on new challenges and decisions. He goes from an innocent and carefree civilian to a broken soul mired in the conflict.
  • Dilruba Yasmeen Ruhee as Asha: An attractive, young, jovial, lively, loudmouthed, rural Hindu woman, who is fiery at Karim and hides a softer side from him.
  • Arman Parvez Murad as Major Iftikhar: A cool and cruel senior Pakistani officer who is not easily phased, and is used to war and the benefits he can reap from it.
  • Ananta Hira as Altaf: Karim's elder brother and leader of the freedom fighters.
  • Steve Hope Wynne as Mike
  • Naj Modak as Doctor
  • Shubrodho as Suraj
  • Raffaella Coleman as Coleman
  • Max Pepper as Doctor 2

Production[edit]

Development and pre-production[edit]

The film is Munsur Ali's first feature film,[1] who wrote, directed and produced it. It was the first time a British film was simultaneously written, produced and directed by a British Bangladeshi.[2] The film is a fictional romantic drama based around the factual and historical events.[3][4] In a June 2013 interview, Ali said, "I've actually been learning about this topic [Bangladesh Liberation War] of 1971 from a young age, having heard a lot of stories about the struggles of 1971. I viewed archive footage and read testimonials from both Bangladeshi and Pakistani points of view. I also spoke to eye witnesses, including an Englishman who was in Dhaka on the night everything kicked off, 25th of March 1971. Forty-two years on, it's difficult to formulate a picture of what happened that is 100% correct, and as a filmmaker I understand that. I avoided disputed issues such as how many were killed during the genocide, but I accepted that there was genocide. It was important for me to find my own opinion and give that a narrative structure."[1] The research included talking to people of the liberation army, researchers, victims of the war, people in the Pakistani Army who are in the UK and going material on the war.[5]

Although it is fiction, the film is loosely based around key events and dates, such as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman after the war speech on the 7 March 1971, just before his arrest, the first day of attack on the Bengali civilian population on 25 March 1971, while also explaining the atrocities that took place.[6] The film includes a narrative of political, historical and romantic overtones.[5]

The film starts with rare original archive footage[7] on NBC[8] from 26 March 1971[9] (when Operation Searchlight started)[5] setting the backdrop to the film.[3] The 60 second footage talks of 200 years of British rule, Partition and the context of the Liberation War is developed from there.[5]

The film is produced in its authentic languages of Bengali and Urdu, while it is also wrapped in English.[3] It starts and finishes in English and the flashback period is in Bengali and Urdu with subtitles.[10]

Casting[edit]

Ali had a team in Bangladesh that arranged the pre-selection cast for him to choose from.[1] The film is aimed at an international audience,[10] so Ali selected actors from Hollywood and Bollywood for the international exposure. When he approached Anupam Kher and Asia Argento, they agreed to act in the film for its "beautiful story".[11]

Ali had personal contact with the actors and crews. A few British actors, as well as British and American technical crews worked on the film.[11] The film also stars Amaan Reza, Dilruba Yasmeen Ruhee,[12] Arman Parvej Murad[13][14][15] and Ananta Hira.[3]

In an August 2013 interview with Sakaal Times, Kher said, he accepted the role because "As a 16-year-old living in Shimla, I know about 1971 and what happened at that time."[16] In March 2014, Ruhee said to Dhaka Tribune, "When I decided to start career in film I didn't get any suitable character and then Munsur Ali came to me with the script and I felt this is the best option to start my film career. I am grateful that I got to act in this film."[8] In July, she said to The Daily Ittefaq, "It's a landmark of an achievement to have a Bangladeshi based story accepted at a mainstream festival [London Indian Film Festival], I am very excited and happy as this is my first film and I'm very hopeful for our industry."[17]

Filming and post-production[edit]

Promotional poster

Ali brought all the equipment of film making from the UK in order to make the film of international standard.[18] Shooting began for the film on 18 December 2011 with a pre-launch event at Rich Mix in London.[6] Production started in the region rural and semi-rural parts of Sylhet Division, Bangladesh.[19] 80 percent of shooting took place in Bangladesh,[20] during the six weeks of shooting in Bangladesh there were regular power cuts while filming so breaks were taken, which meant losing time and money.[1] After completing the first shoot phase in Bangladesh a rough cut of the film was already complete with the dubbing stage in motion.[21] Director of photography Lorenzo Levrini said, "It was truly a memorable, exciting and challenging time to shoot in a mostly remote rural terrain, within a tight deadline and budget, but high expectations!"[19]

The final parts of the film were shot in London and India.[21] After the majority of the film shooting and post-production was already complete, the UK phase was shot in London in summer 2013.[1][11][22]

"On the surface it's a love story between a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl, how the war changes their lives and how Karim is forced to become a freedom fighter before he can search for the love of his life. It's a different kind of love story set during a different kind of war. It's an entertaining dramatic portrayal of an era that was largely missed by the world."

—Munsur Ali, writer, director and producer of Shongram[23]

Ali worked on the project for three years.[10] The film is the most expensive war film ever made in Bangladesh, with a budget of 7 Crores (৳70,000,000)[24] or £400,000.[25]

In March 2014, Ali said to New Age, "I wanted to change the situation by making a film which is of international standard and has a moving story about our country and people so that I can satisfy both local and international audiences."[23] He added to The News Today: "On the surface it's a love story between a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl, how the war changes their lives and how Karim is forced to become a freedom fighter before he can search for the love of his life. It's a different kind of love story set during a different kind of war. It's an entertaining dramatic portrayal of an era that was largely missed by the world."[4] In November 2015, Ali told The Hindu, "For me, the film was about finding my own roots and satisfying the craving for my own identity. I grew up in East London, which was a very racist place in the 1980s. When I was 18-19 years old, I seriously questioned my own identity... For me it is important that I know my roots now, I know where I come from. For me, it is self exploration."[5]

Soundtrack[edit]

Ali wrote a scene based on the song "Ey Shondhay", which Armeen Musa co-wrote with Saif Q and featured on her debut album Aye Ghum Bhangai. Ali contacted Musa via Twitter for permission to use the song for the film in September 2011. Coincidentally, Musa was intending to visit London the following month, and after meeting in person, Ali offered her the job of soundtrack composer in December 2011.

The film's soundtrack album contains seven songs which are sung by Dr. Nashid Kamal, Kona, Armeen Musa, Nolok Babu, Razu and Zanita Ahmed.[26] The soundtrack was composed by Armeen and the background music score was composed by Emon Saha.[27][28][29]

A seven-track album was released by Laser Vision in Bangladesh on 18 March 2014.[27] A full nine-track edition of the album was made available for digital download internationally after June 2014.

Promotion and release[edit]

The initial distribution marketing trailer for Shongram was first screened at Rich Mix Cinema in London as part of Brick Lane Circle's third annual conference on the "Story of Bangladesh and Bangladeshi People, At Home and in the Diaspora" on 27 April 2013.[30][31] Anupam Kher, Munsur Ali and Dilruba Yasmeen Ruhee attended a press conference at Grange City Hotel in London on 9 August 2013.[32] Trailers of the film were shown at the University of Manchester, where Ruhee took part in a seminar while visiting the UK to campaign for the film.[33]

The film had its first private screening at the Rich Mix Cinema on 10 February 2014.[10] The film premiered at Blockbuster Cinema screen in Jamuna Future Park in Dhaka on 27 March 2014 (the day after Bangladesh Independence Day),[8][34] with theatrical release on 28 March in 50 cinemas in Bangladesh[12][35] (including Star Cinplex in Bashundhara City),[3] before heading for Cannes,[36][37][38] then a UK release and world premier at The O2 Arena in London on 14 July, a special screening at London's Leicester Square on 16 July at the London Indian Film Festival,[17][39][40][41][42][43][44] and followed by Europe and international release[8] in Malaysia and Singapore.[45]

The film was screened at the Darpan Singapore Film Festival in November 2014, the Keswick Film Festival in February 2015, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles in April 2015,[46] the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2015[47] and the NETPAC category[48] of the Kolkata International Film Festival in November 2015.[5][49]

The title of the film in Bangladesh is 71 er Shongram.[11] The film is subtitled: The Struggle for Love and Survival – Bangladesh 1971[3] and A romantic drama set during the untold era of genocide, rape and war in Bangladesh 1971.

Reception[edit]

The Independent (in Bangladesh) said, "It's an entertaining dramatic portrayal of a modern tragic era that was largely missed by the world... Shongram is a historic film; it is gritty, raw, romantic and nostalgic, while having an international appeal through the production techniques and a subject matter which is still very relevant today."[3] Mandy Crew called the film "A moving tale focusing on a village that experienced firsthand, the tyranny that the Bengali people felt in 1971, how the experience converts civilians and farmers to fighters."[50]

WhatsOn rated the film 3/5.[51] Zia Nazmul Islam of The Daily Star rated the film 2/5 and thought "The final message that Munsur Ali wanted convey to the international audience was successfully delivered through the last scene – which is that the genocide of 1971 is probably one of the most ignored events in recent times."[7] Miftaul Islam and Amran of Cutting East Film Festival said, "Yasmeen Ruhee who plays Asha was the standout in this movie, delivering an emotional ride of a full of life yet vulnerable Hindu living in Bangladesh..."[52] Daniel Nelson of One World thought "The film has plenty of drama and lashings of violence, but the starkness with which its goodies and baddies are painted means it cannot rise beyond adventure yarn status."[41] FilmDoo said, "...Shongram is an ugly movie with problems right at it's [sic] core, regardless of it's [sic] budget and origin...."[53] Shiv Sahay Singh of The Hindu said, "Shongram, drew wide praise at the 21st Kolkata International Film Festival."[5]

Film director Morshedul Islam said, "Everyone involved in the film is the generation after the war, yet they have performed excellently, that itself is a big deal."[28]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Result
2014 London Indian Film Festival Official Selection Nominated
Singapore International Film Festival Nominated
2015 Kolkata International Film Festival Nominated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Sainbhee, Kiran (28 June 2013). "Love And Loss". Asiana.tv. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Grape Vine". Bangladesh: The Daily Star. 8 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "'71 er Shongram'". Bangladesh: The Independent. 5 April 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Imon, Khorshed Alam (23 March 2014). ""71er Shongram" to release on 28th march". Dhaka: The News Today. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Singh, Shiv Sahay (23 November 2015). "'A craving for my identity'". The Hindu. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Raybe, Tovonya (11 January 2012). "Shongram". Flavour Magazine. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Nazmul Islam, Zia (5 April 2014). "Movie Review". Bangladesh: The Daily Star. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Chatak, Hasan Mansoor (27 March 2014). "Shongram all set to hit 50 cinemas". Dhaka: Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "Ruhi - Actress And Monsur Ali - Director - Shongram Movie Interview In Dhodhulir Amontrona". Media Now™. 24 March 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d Ullah, Ansar Ahmed (11 February 2014). "Shongram has its first screening". GBNEWS24.com. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Multinational stars starred Shongram releases soon". Bangladesh: New Age. 29 January 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "71-er Shongram to hit screens today". Bangladesh: New Age. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  13. ^ Chatak, Hasan Mansoor (30 March 2014). "Murad on his brutal army officer character in Shongram". Dhaka: Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  14. ^ Sajib, Aki (30 March 2014). "Murad as pakistani army officer character in Shongram". Media Times. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  15. ^ Sajib, Aki (31 March 2014). "Murad as Pakistani army officer in Shongram". Bangladesh: Daily Observer. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "Life is too short to complain: Anupam Kher". India: Sakaal Times. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Chatak, Hasan Mansoor (9 July 2014). "Shongram World Premiere at the London Indian Film Festival". Bangladesh: The Daily Ittefaq. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Films on liberation war: Directors talk on challenges". Dhaka: Dhaka Mirror. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "About". Shongram. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  20. ^ Hayes, Simon (5 January 2012). "War of independence has been largely forgotten despite its significant impact" (PDF). London: The Wharf. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "CastingCall For Final Shoot Phase". Shongram. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  22. ^ Chaudhury, Bodrul (13 August 2013). "Interview with Anupam Kher (Shongram)". Roobla. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  23. ^ a b Sadequle, Islam (20 March 2014). "71-er Sangram music CD launched". Bangladesh: New Age. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  24. ^ "Dhallywood 2014: Better Films, Bigger Contest, More Audience". Bangladesh: DhallywoodWire. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  25. ^ "Movie Bazar Ep 23". Asian TV. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  26. ^ Sadequle, Islam (29 March 2014). "Audio album launching of '71 er Songram'". Bangladesh: New Age. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  27. ^ a b Chatak, Hasan Mansoor (20 March 2014). "Upcoming film Shongram's audio album unwraps". Dhaka: Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  28. ^ a b "Audio album of 'Ekattorer Sangram' unveiled". Bangladesh: The Bangladesh Today. March 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  29. ^ "Upcoming Movie Shongram's audio album released". BD Media Para. March 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  30. ^ "Story of Bangladesh & Bangladeshi People, At Home and in the Diaspora" (PDF). Brick Lane Circle. 27 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  31. ^ "Story of Bangladesh & Bangladeshi People, At Home and in the Diaspora". Brick Lane Circle. 27 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  32. ^ Chaudhury, Bodrul (11 August 2013). "Anupam Kher attends London press conference for Shongram". Bolly Spice. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  33. ^ Rahman, Habib (4 March 2014). "Movie "Shongram" with a few international film stars". Dhaka: Dhaka On Air. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  34. ^ "Premiere of 'Ekkattorer Songram' held". Bangladesh: The Bangladesh Today. April 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  35. ^ "Premier show of 71 er Shongram". Bangladesh: New Age. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Shongram". Cass. February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  37. ^ "Cannes Film Festival date for VIII & Shongram Scunthorpe actor Naj Modak". Scunthorpe: Scunthorpe Telegraph. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  38. ^ "Cannes Film Festival Date for VIII & Shongram Scunthorpe". East Midlands News. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  39. ^ "Shongram to get world premiere at LIFF in London". Bangladesh: New Age. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  40. ^ "Shongram at London Film Festival". Bangladesh: Daily Observer. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  41. ^ a b Nelson, Daniel (2 July 2014). "Bravura Bangladesh independence war adventure". One World. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  42. ^ Imon, Khorshed Alam (6 July 2014). "Shongram world premiere at London Film Festival". Dhaka: The News Today. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  43. ^ "'71 er Shongram' to be screened in London Indian Film Festival". Bangladesh: The Bangladesh Today. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  44. ^ Farooq, Aisha (11 June 2014). "London Indian Film Festival 2014 Programme". DESIblitz. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  45. ^ Islam, Zia Nazmul (29 March 2014). "Munsur Ali -The Man Behind Shongram". Bangladesh: The Daily Star. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  46. ^ "Shongram to be screened at Bengal Art Lounge". Dhaka: Dhaka Tribune. 21 February 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  47. ^ "Shongram to be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York". Dhaka: Dhaka Tribune. 1 February 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  48. ^ "Ruhee's '71-er Sangram' invited to Kolkata film fest". Bangladesh: The Independent. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  49. ^ Mitra, Arnab (20 November 2015). "Kolkata International Film Festival focuses on Hollywood classics". Bangladesh: NewsGram. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  50. ^ "Film Shongram". Mandy Crew. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  51. ^ "Film". WhatsOn. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  52. ^ Islam, Miftaul; Amran (26 March 2014). "Shongram 2014 Film Review:". Cutting East Film Festival. Retrieved 1 May 2014. [dead link]
  53. ^ "London Indian Film Fest Review: "Shongram" (2014, Bangladesh)". FilmDoo. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 

External links[edit]