‘Masud Rana’goes to court | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 18, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 18, 2020

‘Masud Rana’goes to court

Among the most iconic characters of popular Bangla literature, Masud Rana's name is synonymous with that of its author, Kazi Anwar Hossain. Now, following a verdict passed by the Bangladesh Copyright Office on June 14, 2020, it will also have to be associated with that of Sheikh Abdul Hakim. A published author who writes frequently for Prothom Alo's thriller supplements, Hakim has been recognised as the actual author of 50 books from the Kuwasha series, and 260 installments of the Masud Rana series released after the first 11 books. He filed the case on July 29, 2019, as did Iftekhar Amin, who also claims to have ghostwritten some of the stories. The latter's case is still ongoing as per the copyright office.

Kazi Anwar Hossain wrote the first Masud Rana story—Dhonsho Pahar—in the 1960s in his Shegunbagicha residence. Once it gained popularity, Hossain started 'borrowing' from thriller stories published abroad, until the series gained iconicity. That is when he brought Sheikh Abdul Hakim into the project. Deprived of payment for many of the stories he wrote, Hakim decided to take legal action. Writer Bulbul Chowdhury, translator Shawkat Hossain, cover illustrator Hashem Khan, and former Sheba Prokashoni sales manager Israil Hossain Khan all spoke as witnesses in the case.

"I was 18 when I started writing for the series. I didn't understand matters of copyright and the law," Abdul Hakim has told the media. "I wrote because I needed the money. I did receive some royalties, but not all of what I deserved. That is why I'm now seeking this legal reform." This latest is an intriguing development in a series that has, infamously, long borrowed from the works of Ian Flemming, Robert Ludlum, Alistair MacLean and more—both for its text and book covers.   


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