South Asian Projects
Land of Despise-Mezanur Rahman (Bangladesh)
It is the land that brought fortune for the families of Khodder Char once. Yet it’s the same land that has brought trouble for the villagers now.
There is this myth about the people from islands (চর) which state that, the Char peoples are braver than the mainstream. The people of Khodder Char are battling natural calamities from years. Frequent loss of their shelter and other belongings due to flood made them strong. However, together they made this place livable and was in peace until a company decided to build a solar plant near the village. Distant from the mainland the people of this village believed on unity and therefore stood against the company and form a resistance while the company cheated these people while acquiring their land.
After a face-to-face battle between the protesters and the company officials the company filed a case against 185 protesters who are now suffering from law and who were accused to torch down the company’s office. The solidarity of this people is now being tested, whereas a major portion of the resistant settle their issue with the company and a small segment of the protesters are still believe that they will win over the company.
Will the Char people can prove that they are still brave or they will lose over money, over power?
Lives in a challenging geography always interests me. Khodder Char is a nearby village from my hometown. One of my aunties lives there with her family. I hardly visit them in years. When I first visit this village in last year, my aim was to observe these people’s life, the hot sandy soils. A river also crosses this village. I happen to enjoy to learn the difference between us and them. I always heard that the people who lives in a char has strong muscle and that they are fearless. After getting in touch with some people of the village I discovered that the village is in its utmost crisis. There’s been a tension going on between the villagers and the company officials. Initially I was amused to learn that this people alone form a group of resistant and keep fighting with the company and local authority in terms of secure their land. The divide and rule approach of the company drive me to investigate the myth I have been heard from years that are the people from char are really rebellious or it is just a myth now.
The life in Khodder Char near the Teesta River was in harmony until the company decide to build a solar plant near the village. The company needed land, so they start buying it, but with an unfair price. The villagers stood against it and a conflict arose between them. On a face- to-face battle between the villagers and the authority some villagers got injured and in response to that the protesters torched down the company’s office. Matter goes beyond after that. A case has been filed against 185 villagers under CRPC act. The villagers after that getting divided into two, some of them decide to stay on the fight and some decide to sell their land to the company since they later agreed to give a reasonable price for their land.
ABU TALEB (70) is an elderly man, who used to live a simple life with his cattle and crop, now has to pay the price for participating in the resistance. He is also an accused of this case. During his life Abu Taleb become a flood victim for at least 17 times, but he never felt helpless, but facing the law and order making him torment. The man who never learnt to lose might lose this time.
BIREN SHILL (50) a local leader who also work as a Barbar is currently leading this protest in terms of planning and setting strategies. He is being irritated by the dividation of these people. He is now guiding the protesters to set demands in order to keep their land secure and safe. But in reality, the resistance is getting out of his hand day by day.
ALTA MAJHI (45) a fisherman on the other-hand picking up the most fruited way. He has a land adjacent to the boundary of the project area. The company will need it. Alta Majhi is waiting to grab the highest value for his land.
The story begins with a chaos between the company worker and some protesters where the worker comes to carry on the construction work and the protesters are stopping them from work. The crowd grows and the worker left the station. The demand from the protester is pretty simple, you withdraw our case and do your job. ABU TALEB is also present there and he seems determined that he will fight till his breath if the company doesn’t settle his case. The story will follow him towards the end of his trail and portray the resonance of the remaining resistance also by spotting BIREN SHILL and ALTA MAJHI to give the resistance some other perspectives.
Graduated from Bangladesh Agricultural University in 2012, with a dream to be a filmmaker Mezanur Rahman starts his job as a Video Editor at Counter Foto in 2013. In this emerging art school at Dhaka, Mezanur worked for its Audio-Visual Department where he also gets professional training as a cinematographer. All these year Mezanur made several short documentaries and collaborated in multiple projects. Bhoomi… Meanwhile in Khodder Char is his first feature film which premiered in many international festivals. Land of Despise is directors second attempt to a documentary feature.
“Land of Despise” won the Research and Development Grant at Liberation DocFest Bangladesh 2021 program (Awarded as “For The Sake of Land”). Utilizing this grant and some from his own the director has already started shooting the film and the story is now at its beginning stage. Since the major protagonist and the central conflict of this film has been sorted out the crew will try to accomplish the work with the help of financers.
Budget – USD 35,000