Masud Hasan Ujjal, a graduate of Charukola, is known for his unconventionality. He established himself as a painter before finding his feet as a director. His artistic inspirations are evident in his storytelling. Ujjal presents his works as visual poetry, with thought-provoking social and cultural messages, in the form of surrealistic art. Ujjal's first film, Unoponchash Batash, was set to release this March, but it was delayed indefinitely due to the ongoing pandemic. In an interview with The Daily Star, the director shared his views on contemporary projects and shed light on ways that the industry can get back on track.
According to Ujjal, budget issues are not the definitive reason behind the deterioration of the television industry. "My project, Rod Mekho Shurjomukhi, was previewed in Pune as a visual text in classrooms," he shares. "To be frank, it was a low-budget production. I believe that talent and presentation are what matters, and the budget is not always the main obstacle."
For the past decade, Bangladesh's television industry is going through tough times. Tele-fictions lack morals and social messages. At the same time, the industry is struggling to draw audiences that are accepting of diverse stories and patterns. Sadly, many have grown comfortable with these practices. "We are all actually under the custody of capitalists. They have successfully captured everything, including the world of art," asserts Ujjal.
Ujjal also adds that the matter of survival often arises when artistes and creators confront the problems. "We create our own limitations as artistes," he says. "We all have to face the reality of survival, but the parametres have to be within the line. Otherwise, we cannot expect a swift growth in art."
The director believes that the race of having luxuries has blinded the society. In this process, the capitalists are not only benefitting materialistically, but also technically, as it keeps people away from conspiracies that hinder the power of raising voices against all kinds of domination.
Nowadays, most stories on television lack depth. In line with that thought, Ujjal explains that in literature, films and television, there is no mark or clear vision about the contemporary social and political conditions. "The Renaissance era had an agenda of taking the art and culture from the middle to the modern age. It upheld the unhealthy compromises, for which a revolution took place," he says. "We are going through a 'Renaissance' of sorts, and the time highly demands an insurgence."
Ujjal adds that productions targeting the masses stir excitement, but are forgotten after a while. On the other hand, timeless stories are not widely applauded by audiences, but they are relevant throughout different ages. "Public interest is always harmful for art," he says. "Hyped stories are never responsible for bringing positive changes in taste. They don't make people realise their obligations towards preserving their culture."
According to the director, the patterns of filmmaking in Bangladesh are questionable. "We are either following European formats or Korean and Iranian narratives, to gain international funds and acclaim. Such practices have kept us away from creating our own language of cinema," says Ujjal. "We must be confident in ourselves and create our own path. We should not follow anyone else," he adds.
Ujjal further shares that OTT platforms, controlled by corporates, are not offering proper and fair appraisals to films. They are now trying to take advantage of the crisis the film industry is going through, as currently, cinema theatres are shut. "Our entertainment arena has to change and rethink certain patterns. Otherwise, we will face an irrecoverable lapse in no time," he concludes.