South Asian Projects
First Fairytale Book-ABM Nazmul Huda (Bangladesh)
A journey through obstacles for the first literature book in Mro language published from Bangladesh that marks a new aspect for the author and for Mro language.
This is a journey of Younguang Mro. He is from Baittapara, a hill-village in Bandarban Hill District. This village is not connected to roads or electricity or mobile networks; when Younguang plans a book. And the book makes a significant addition to uphold mother tongue.
As a child, he would fondly listen to fairy-tales from his mother like all children do, but while studying at the University he deeply realizes that their fiary-tales will be lost into the broad sweep of history. This thought moves him so much that he starts travelling through hills in hot-summers, rains and cold-winters to collect fairy-tales and to reconcile them by Mro elders. After preparing the stories he faces new difficulties to publish the book, but finally he makes it. The first ever literature book in Mro language from Bangladesh comes into light and sets a mark in the Mro history.
Younguang is a fruit-farmer besides being a dedicated writer for his community. Tough the book has impacts in his life but it does not provide him with any regular income. He even felt short for enough silver-coins for his marriage. But again this book makes the marriage easy despite their religious difference. His family had high hope that he will be educated and do something better and he is happy that his mother at least saw his book before passing. His elder brother Echong Mro and his elder friend and guide Nangsing Mro encouraged him to do this work.
Instead of search for an office job after university or pursuing the traditional Jhum (shifting cultivation), Younguang is farming fruits in the hill and he left his village for living in the city with his wife recently. May be he thinks that city life is better for his writing pursuit as he wants to continue writing about and for his community. Now he is collecting Mro traditional rhymes/poems, besides his novel writing, to publish another book in Mro language.
Bandarban Hill District is one of the three districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts at the south-east region of Bangladesh bordering India and Myanmar. There lives few indigenous communities and Mro is one of them. They are poor humble hard-working people and live in the remote areas of hills. Their language is from the Tibeto-Burman sub-family of the Sino-Tibetan language family and they didn’t have alphabets or writing system. Mro language was declared to be an endangered language of Bangladesh in an article published by International Mother Language Institute in 2012 based on Ethnologue and UNESCO reports.
Researchers say that every 14 days one language dies, among roughly 7000 languages in our world. It is expected that 90% of the world languages will become extinct by 2050 and the languages with small population are on the way. Among few others, Mro speaking community is an ethnic minority in Bangladesh with a population less than 40,000 (2011 census) and surrounded by dominant languages like Bangla, Marma, Chakma.
In light of the national education policy 2010, government declared to establish mother tongue based education for all indigenous community children gradually and as a first step five languages were selected to start with. Unfortunately Mro is not among those five, but they hope someday it will be. Besides, to achieve SDG goal-4 Bangladesh will also need to include all these languages in primary education.
Around 1982, a young Mro person, Menley Mro, introduced a new religion and invented Mro scripts along with writing system who disappeared in few years. This inspired the Mro people to learn their language and to get educated despite the remote living reality; that’s how Younguang Mro thinks. He also thinks that if their language is selected soon to be taught in the schools for their children this language will survive.
Considering the above facts, Younguang’s book “Mro Rupkotha” meaning “Mro Fairytales” is a significant addition to Mro history and also to the history of languages. The book was launched in the National Book Fair 2019 in Dhaka which is known as ‘Ekushey Boi Mela’. This is a unique event happened from within for a kind of survival! It’s a beacon to celebrate diversity! But how this journey was made possible? And what impact this journey brought into Younguang’s life and for the community? This is what I want to explore within the backdrop of Mro life and culture.
Its early night, a Mro mother telling fairytale to her child before sleep. The child dreams mother’s story in an animated imagination. At such point Younguang starts telling how much he loved to listen to fairytales from his mother in childhood. Then he continues significant stories of his upbringing, school, college, university and how he realized the importance of saving the fairytales.
This documentary film aims to tell the story in the first person’s version. How Younguang made his journey to publish the first Mro literature book and the way he is passing through his present life. His version of the story will necessarily be compensated with excerpts from few others connected in this regard.
The journey of the book is planned to be visualized through reenactment approach by the real characters as much as possible. Younguang’s hardship through the hills under sun and rain and cold for collecting Mro fairytales will reveal the beauty and reality of their existence in there. I have plans to follow events through different seasons to show different beauty and reality of the seasons. I also plan to explore his village and his city life at a proportion to understand any significant contrast, as there is!
I would like to follow Younguang and his new family for at least a year or two (irregular basis) to capture his present reality so that we understand his response to own reality and dream. I hope that would create a different narrative of such a character amidst so many factors to oppress him; specially the economical and demographic situation, and also so many factors to support him; specially the information and communication technology. As a farmer working on his fruit-garden but he also keeps travelling for community issues and programs. He is also collecting materials for writing his novel and the Mro rhyme book through all these, but how he handles the balance would be an interesting thing to observe! We also see him face himself critically on some personal and community issues to observe how he explores the human in him. Rather than looking down to a subject I want to allow space for a pioneer person like him to express and grow spontaneously.
After completing BSS (Hons.) and MSS in Sociology from the University of Chittagong I got interested in film making. Since 2001, I have been working and learning through different short and full length independent film projects. Besides, I worked for audiovisual communication content making for TV and others to make a living. Since 2012, I started own venture, Shopnomoy, to cater substantial impact through developing creative ideas and producing commendable contents. I also enjoy writing, mostly poetry, and act for social consciousness.
I am already in the production phase of ‘First Fairytale Book’. I am always in touch with the lead character who actually connected me to other few characters of his community in Bandarban district. Currently for covid19 situation I didn’t have a visit for last few months though. In addition to that I also developed communications to other 2-3 persons connected in this regard who are from other districts, like Rangamati, Chittagong, Dhaka. So far, I think, 30% of my shooting work is covered. I hope to capture the rest by 2022 or may be 6 more months considering covid19 situation in near future.
Budget: Total 51,500.00 USD
Secured fund – 22,000 USD
(Production Grant for cinema of Government of Bangladesh)
Already in production phase.
Phone: +8801911 380842