Molla Sagar

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Molla Sagar’s recent film works have dwelled upon pastoral lived realities and the rural sphere of Bangladesh. His cinematic language steers away from a romanticised and idyllic view, rather plotting ecological precarity, labour struggles, folkloric tradition, and revolutionary actions in the everyday lives of the subaltern class. Earlier films have been set at a Jute Mill in Khalishpur, and have chronicled coal mine protests in Phulbari and focused on fishing communities around Teknaf and the Sundarbans. Sagar edits an online cultural magazine, ‘Shap Ludu,’ (shapludu.com) and has a vast sonic archive of people’s songs and oral traditions of the Bengal delta. Titas - The River is a participatory documentary film that has been made over a number of seasons. It deals with the river as a mythical entity but also documents the daily relationship between the riverine landscape and local communities. The river is a site of dreaming, sacred celebrations, nourishment and strife. The filmmaker journeys along the riverbanks by boat, and ,at certain points, even the camera plunges into the river waters—thus, there is an entanglement between the Titas as a living source and the communal ethos of fishing and agrarian cultures that surround it. The film is inspired by Ritwik Ghatak’s epic cinema in Titas Ekti Nodir Nam (Titas is the name of a River, 1973) which in turn was based on a novel by the legendary author, Advaita Mulya Barman.

When reviewing this film, artist and writer Naeem Mohaiemen notes, "The protagonists of Titash are the historic Malo river community of Malopara, and their language is a hybrid of Bangla, Brahmanbaria and Comilla anchalik bhasha, and the Malo adivasi language. It is so intensely hybridised that my eyes kept turning to subtitles for rescue, a stranger in my own land". Sagar has screened his film for the Malo community and included their feedback as part of his initiative to decentralise the very act of filmmaking and its expanded social function.

Supported by the Bengal Foundation and Goethe-Institut Bangladesh

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