South Asian Projects
Director’s Name: Jafar Muhammad, Bangladesh
Who Lives their Lives as amphibians.
Mujibur Rahman, the protagonist, meditates in the river of Karatoa through seasons of hard work at the age of 64. He is into a joyful engagement along with many young people to earn their daily bread. People spend every day, hours after hours, in the river to collect pebbles employing a simple indigenous technology. These pebbles are one of the most important ingredients for real estate and roadway construction.
Mujibur has been engaged, for more than five decades, with this extremely hard manual work that brings little earning. Younger people like Nazmul Hossain are also joining this profession these days. They have energy, strength, and muscles. For the elderly Mujibur, he cannot move to another profession even if he wants to.
With the seasons the river changes the lives of the people who work at the river. Collecting pebbles is impossible hard work to carry on with these changes. There are also many other unpredictable challenges to deal with. However, they have to have a sustainable livelihood and they need to depend on the river. The ordeal gets embedded in their life.
I found the community at work with a unique symphony of physical action. The film touches life with an extraordinary grace that embraces human labor. and its beauty and rhythm.
Almost 7 years ago I suffered from Insomnia and after every sleepless night, I used to go to the bank of river Karatoa and got fascinated by its peaceful beauty. 2 years later I lost my elder brother due to a bike accident that made me emotionally unstable-watching the quiet flow of the river, the gentle wind, and the rising sun healed me up little by little. Later, I moved to Dhaka for my studies for five years. I kept thinking about Karatoa. And eventually, the river pulled me back to my village.
Panchagarh is the northernmost district of Bangladesh. This small district in the foothills of the Himalayas had about 40 rivers, most of which are now extinct. Some rivers still survive with weak currents. As it survives, it is almost dead.
Md. Mujibur Rahman collects pebbles in the Karatoya river. He has been in this profession for 53 years of his life. He has 6 daughters, 5 of whom are married. Now he has a daughter and a wife at home. A few years ago, besides collecting pebbles, he also used to cultivate paddy in the river. Now that he is old, he can no longer cultivate, but in the pursuit of life, he has started a tea nursery jointly with his nephew. Mujibur is a quiet person who doesn’t talk much.
Another main character in my film is Nazmul Hossain., who works in Mahanada about 40 kilometers from where Mujibur Rahman works. Mahananda is only 20 kilometers long at Panchagarh. The total area of Mahananda is No Man’s Land at the border of India.
People like Nazmul Hossain go there at their own risk. The Border Guard of Bangladesh can’t save them from any danger where they work. It’s a forbidden river. You can’t use any boats on this river. You can’t bring your camera there for filming. But thousands are working there for a living.
Nazmul is 26/28 years old. A small family of three including his wife and one child. The condition of the family is quite prosperous as the pebbles are found in Mahananda.
Nazmul and Mujibur are facing different kinds of difficulties in their profession. The river Karatoa is drying up day by day, and the amount of pebbles found in Karatoa is not enough for making a living. But Mujibur is not giving up, He is not the kind of person who can give up easily.
In Mahananda Nazmul can’t go to the river somedays due to the tension between BGB and BSF or other matters.
Jafar Muhammad, The Director of Pankauri is from the Northmost Part of Bangladesh. He studied in Diploma in Electronics Engineering from Dhaka Polytechnic Institute. Because of his love for film, he dropped out of engineering and started his career as a script developer. Pankauri is the first project Jafar began as a director.
We are shooting this film in an ‘Observational Style’ with slow camera movements. There will be some long shots in our film to create a realistic feeling. We are also using ariel and underwater shots to establish the character of the river. For sound, we have thought that we will be using ambients with a little bit of sound engineering.
The estimated budget for Pankauri is 20,000$ only. We got a research budget from Joy Kalyan as financial aid. We have done almost half of the shooting from our Personal funding.
We are now in Development and Shooting Stage. The shooting of ‘Pankauri’ initially started in August 2021. We need two more seasons to complete this film. And our predicted time for the ending of this film is December 2023.
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