I want to make gender-sensitive films: Rubaiyat Hossain

Cultural Correspondent
Rubaiyat Hossain

Rubaiyat Hossain

The 14th edition of Dhaka International Film Festival will begin today with a show of director Rubaiyat Hossain’s second film Under Construction at the Bangladesh National Museum.
The film, which earlier took part in several festivals in different counties, will be released in four cinemas in Dhaka on January 22.
In an interview with New Age, Rubaiyat Hossain talked about her journey as a woman filmmaker and her future plans.
‘It’s a great honour that my film has been selected to open the Dhaka International Film Festival. Actually, I postponed releasing the film in Bangladesh for six months when I got the offer from DIFF,’ Rubayait said.
‘Initially, the film will be released at Bashundhara Cineplex, Blockbuster Cinemas at Jamuna Future Park, Balaka Cine World and Shymoli Cinema. Later we will arrange for wider screenings outside the capital using our own distribution channels.’
Under Construction shows the psychological journey of Roya, a middle-class urban Muslim woman and also a theatre actress. It also depicts crises surrounding Roya’s aged mother and her young domestic help.
The film featuring local and Indian artistes including Rahul Bose, Shahana Goswami, Reekita Nandita Shimu, Mita Chowdhury, Shahadat Hossain and Tauhidul Islam Emon had its world premiere at the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival, Washington in the USA.
Subsequently, it participated in other festivals such as Montreal International Film Festival, Sa Paulo international Film Festival, Stockholm International Film Festival and International Film Festival of Kerala.
‘I got positive response from the viewers at those festivals which indicated that they could relate to the film.
‘In a way, the film is a reinterpretation of Tagore’s Rakta Karabi set in contemporary Dhaka where industrialisation is at its peak and human beings are becoming more like machines. The protagonist of the Tagore’s play, Nandini, is a symbolic character. In Under Construction, I’ve featured a real-life character based in Dhaka,’ Rubayait said.
A writer and researcher, Rubayait Hossain debuted as a filmmaker in 2011 with Meherjaan, which deals with different interpretations of the 1971 war of independence through the titular character’s fascination with a Pakistani soldier. Soon after its release, however, it was pulled out of cinemas after it drew criticism from conservative viewers. ‘I believe Meherjaan is a balanced woman-centric film. It got appreciations in international film festivals and many research works have been done on it,’ Rubaiyat said.
‘I make films on women and I want to be defined as a feminist filmmaker. There are few women working behind the camera. I’m ready to take the challenge and want to create gender sensitivity through my films.’
Rubaiyat Hossain, who is studying Cinema Studies at New York University, said she has plans to join teaching in future and would like to continue making films on women’s issues.

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