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Mujib The Making Of A Nation, The Unmaking Of A Bio-pic



Mujib: The Making Of A Nation

Mujib: The Making Of A Nation(Bengali with English Subtitles)

Starring Arifin Shuvoo, Nusrat Imrose Tisha

Directed by Shyam Benegal

Rating: ** ½

It is  acutely  heartbreaking to say this. But Shyam Bengal’s bio-pic on the architect  of Bangladesh, Sheikh  Mujibur Rehman, is just plain dull and stiff-necked. The galaxy of  earnest  actors look  right for their parts, as they are  mostly from Bangladesh, except  Rajit Kapoor(an old Benegal favourite) who makes a  frightening  Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The  bio-pic’s  most colossal failure is Arifin Shuvoo  in the title role.A television actor with  little experience,  he turns  Sheikh Mujibur  Rehman into a  character in a highschool  drama  in this hagiographic drama.

In the hands of the  brilliant  Benegal(who earlier made an equally dreary bio-pic on Subhas Chandra Bose many years ago) the story of  Sheikh  Mujibur’s fight for separatism never transcends  the laudatory leaps that the  screenplay(Atul Tiwari and the regular Benegal collaborator Shama Zaidi) takes to make the  subject of the biography  look squeaky-clean.

The  characters, locations , setting and emotions  are so sanitized , we can smell the disinfectant.

 Even the interiors are designed rather than organically induced. There is  this longish conversation between young Mujib and his mentor  and party leader Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy(played by  Tauquir Ahmed)who served as  the Prime Minister  of Pakistan and who vehemently opposed  the two-nation formula. This is Mujib’s last  conversation with  his mentor in England. A  log  of wood burns  in a strategic  corner of the  room creating a  stylish   reflection in  Mujibur’s glasses.

A stagey mood courses  through the veins of this well-meaning but vain and selfconscious bio-pic. Every frame is  designed  to reinforce  the  myth  about the Sheikh Mujibur’s  virtuous character. Which would have been just fine had there been any room for some fun and mischief in the  character. The only moment of enjoyment  that I recall after  nearly three hours of glorification is when Mujibur Rehman  is seen swaying to Hemant Kumar’s Na yeh chand hoga. That’s  6 seconds  in three hours.

 The rest all posturing with  very little feeling. Even the  scenes  of Mujibur with his  wife Renu (Nusrat Imrose Tisha) and  the children  look like cutouts from a family album. Authenticity ,yes. Real emotions? Sorry , none that we  can  take home and recall in  repose.

  No one  can fault Shyam Benegal for his research  work.This selfconscious academic halo that the  film wears  gives it  a look of  turgid scholarship, but little else. It is  often  said about the talented singer Suresh Wadkar that he is over-qualified to be a film singer. Mujib: The Making Of A Nation is the  cinematic equivalent of  Suresh Wadkar.What it needed was to loosen up and enjoy discovering the human side of the man who created Bangladesh.

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