To Friends of Asian Cinema: The Untimely Death of Tareque Masud And Mishuk Munier

Aditya Tuesday August 16, 2011

To Friends Of Asian Cinema The Untimely Death Of Tareque Masud And Mishuk Munier 1  

Dhaka: The film activists in Bangladesh are mourning the death of Bangladesh’s leading filmmaker Tareque Masud and his friend—cinematorgrapher Mishuk Munier. They died in a road accident at around 12.30 pm on Saturday 13 August 2011. Tareque and seven others were scouting for locations for his new film Kagojer Phool (The Paper flower), presumably a 'prequel' to his famous film Matir Moina (The Clay Bird, 2002) in Manikganj on 13 August morning. When returning to Dhaka their microbus was hit by a coach and five of them died on the spot.   Tareque's American-born wife Catherine who produced or co-directed most films with Tareque, was also injured in the accident. She was hospitalized immediately, but released yesterday (14 August). The couple has a 16-month old son named Nishad Bingham Masud.    A long time film club activist Tareque was a proponent of the Short Film Movement in 1980s Bangladesh. He founded Bangladesh Short Film Forum in 1986 along with Morshedul Islam and Tanvir Mokammel, two other important Bangladeshi filmmakers. Tareque coordinated the first Dhaka International Short Film Festival held in December 1988.    Tareque and Mishuk started filmmaking with documentary film Adam Surat (The Inner Strength, 1982-89) on renowned Bangladeshi artist S M Sultan. In between this, he completed a video documentary titled Shonar Beri (The Chains of Gold, 1986). Catherine joined the team of Adam Surat in 1986 when she visited Bangladesh as a part of her study at a US university. They married in Dhaka in 1989. Tareque and Catherine shot to fame for their feature-length documentary Muktir Gaan (Song of freedom, 1995)—a found-footage film largely based on the footage shot by American cinematographer Lear Levin during 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.     Tareque’s first feature Matir Moina (The Clay Bird, 2002) that views rural East Pakistan society in the 1960s through the eyes of a madrassa-student was financed by a South Fund grant offered by the French government. This partly autobiographical film (as Tareque himself was a madrassa student in 1960s East Pakistan) won him a critics' award at Cannes.     For last six years Tareque and Catherine were preparing for The Paper Flower which was supposed to visualize culture and politics in Bengal in the 1930s-40s. During this period they directed and produced few documentaries and two more feature films: Ontorjatra (The Inner Journey, 2006) and Runway (2010). Focusing on contemporary issues like globalization, migration and Islamicization, both the films represent identity politics of Bangladeshis at home and abroad. Mishuk Munier, son of Munier Chowdhury—the highly-respected professor of Dhaka University and a martyred intellectual of 1971 liberation war—photographed Runway as well as Tareque's 2009 short film Norshundor (The Barber).    With the demise of Tareque and Mishuk, Asian independent cinema lost two of its original and influential contributors.

by Zakir Hossain Raju

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