Actor and director Taukir Ahmed's 7th film 'Sphulingo' (Spark) was released on 26 March, Friday. The film will be screened in 35 cinema halls across the country. Before the release of the film, Taukir Ahmed talked with The Business Standard (TBS) about the film and his journey as a filmmaker.
TBS: As far as we know, the film Sphulingo has been made within a very short time. Was it difficult to make a film in such a short time?
Taukir Ahmed: The shooting may have been short, but it took two months to write the script while I was in America. There I needed the time. Before writing the script, I had to think, I had to arrange the story. However, that was the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, so I got a lot of time to work on it. But when everything was finalised, the producers wanted to release the film in March. For that, I would have had to finish the shooting by December. That's why we planned to shorten the time and make the shooting process easier.
We selected a place for indoor shooting in Gazipur's Nakshatrabari. Everything from police stations to jails and houses was set up there for continuous shooting. That's why it took less time. We also did some outdoor shooting in the Shitalaksha River at Kapasia, Gazipur. There was some shooting at the Bangabandhu Agricultural University. These places are very close to Nakshatrabari.
It was necessary to shoot on a bus used during the time of the liberation war. That bus was in Manikganj. It could not be brought to Gazipur because of the state of its engine. There were also no official papers to bring the bus. So the whole team had to go there and shoot. I had to go to Kasba in Brahmanbaria again for the shooting of songs. There we found fields of sunflowers.
So, we did whatever we needed to do for the film. Keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic, we tried to fix the shooting spots as near to each other as possible and finish the shooting as fast as possible. We shot for 26 days. Then we did the editing, colour grading, dubbing before releasing the film.
TBS: Covid-19 was a big obstacle to making Sphulingo. What other obstacles did you face?
Taukir: The biggest problem we face while making a period film in this country is that it's hard to find accessories related to that historical period. For example, we have not preserved any old building of that time (1971). So, we have to make dummies. Again, if you need cars used during the 70s, you have to face some difficulties. There are a couple of those cars, but it was hard to get them amid the pandemic. It is also difficult to get weapons from that time. So, we faced difficulties in finding proper accessories and props.
TBS: Is Sphulingo a story of the liberation war?
Taukir: Partially, not completely. It's a story about developing awareness. What would a young man do in 1971? And what does a young man of this period do? A group of young people responded to the call of Bangabandhu in 1971. What are the young people doing now? The film raises these questions.
TBS: How was the performance of the actors in your film?
Taukir: They have done a very good job. I always rely on good actors. Most of the actors in my films are from stage and television. There are also some film actors. They all tried to give their best. Every artist feels a hunger inside their mind. As time goes by, the artist matures and his or her appetite grows. When an artist goes to a unit and sees that good work is being done, he or she supports the unit like second nature. That happened in the case of my film.
TBS: You do not do much promotional campaigns for your films. What is the reason?
Taukir: There are two reasons for this. You need money for a promotional campaign. But my films do not have that big a budget. Secondly, I am a person who is not comfortable with self-promotion. I don't think it's my job either. This is a third-party job, the job of an agency.
Besides, I am not smart enough to do that. And I also want to say that I want to be unsmart. I don't want to be a salesman. I can't be a salesman. There is a reason for this - no story will come to my mind if I become smart. Then I will only think of money or business. Marketing will take the place of my creativity. This is not what I want.
TBS: But you must want all types of viewers to see the film.
Taukir: Of course, I want that. Otherwise, I wouldn't make films. I make films for the audience, not for myself. I always say one thing - making a film is only 50 percent of the total work, the remaining 50 percent is done by the audience while they watch it. The audience will watch a film, talk about it, and criticise harshly if they don't like it. This is what I want.
TBS: You make films on various subjects. For example, Jayjatra was based on the liberation war, Fagun Hawa on the language movement, Oggatonama on the life of the expatriates, Halda on a river. How do these thoughts of making movies come to your mind?
Taukir: I keep thinking about a film. I'm still thinking about five stories. It's like cooking. These ideas mature when you think about them. Let me give you an example. I first thought of the film Oggatonama 5-6 years before it was made. I collected news about the incident wherever I found them. I collected paper cuttings. In a word, a lot of research was done. I try to do the same for all my films. I sit down to write only if the research is mature. Not before that. Then the creative process continues.
TBS: Has director Taukir Ahmed made the best film of his life?
Taukir: No. Impossible. Can filmmakers make their best films in their lifetime? I couldn't either. However, I try to overcome the mistakes of the previous movie in the next one. I'm not saying that every work of mine will be good. Because a director has the right to make mistakes or to make bad films.
TBS: Your thoughts on films expressed on various occasions are circulating online. Many people are sharing those thoughts. How does it feel?
Taukir: I have also seen some of those. In one sense, it is good. The younger generation is talking about films and thinking. People's attraction to films is eternal. People start watching movies at an early age and the image of a good film stays in their head. Cinema has an effect on people because of its eloquence and its attractiveness.
I think, since there is no formal institution for learning filmmaking in our country, these will be useful for young people who are struggling to learn filmmaking. They will be encouraged. If anyone is inspired to see Fagun Hawa, Halda or Oggatonama, it will be a great achievement for me.