Top Bangladeshi actor Nusrat Imrose Tisha is in Cannes to promote her new film “Mujib: The Making of a Nation.” A trailer for the film, a biopic of the late Bangladeshi leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was unveiled at the Cannes Film Market.
Popularly known as Bangabandhu (friend of Bengal), Rahman was one of the founders of the Awami League party and led the movement for political autonomy for East Pakistan and the subsequent formation of independent Bangladesh in 1971. He served as the first president and then the first prime minister of Bangladesh until he, his wife and sons were assassinated in an army coup in 1975. His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Arifin Shuvoo, best actor winner at the Bangladesh National Film Awards for “Dhaka Attack,” plays Rahman. Tisha plays his wife Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib.
“Everyone knows about Bangabandhu, but many people don’t know about Fazilatunnesa,” Tisha tells Variety. “As the saying goes, behind every successful man there is a woman and Fazilatunnesa supported him, took care of the family and made important political decisions when Bangabandhu was jailed as a political prisoner during the freedom struggle. She was a strong lady.”
“She did a tremendous job and with this film I think that people will get to know the about Fazilatunnesa and her work and sacrifices,” adds Tisha.
Tisha has had a glittering acting career, winning best actress at Bangladesh’s National Film Awards for “Ostitto” and “Haldaa” and international acclaim with Rotterdam and Busan title “Third Person Singular Number” and “Television.” “Television” won big at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Dubai and Jogja, closed Busan and played at festivals around the globe, including Locarno, Göteborg, Sydney and Beijing.
Tisha is currently in discussions with a Kolkata-based Indian company for her next acting role.
“Third Person Singular Number” and “Television” were directed by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, Tisha’s husband. Tisha turned producer with Farooki’s “No Land’s Man,” which won at Vesoul, has played at Tallinn Black Nights and is bound for Sydney. It was a learning process, which Tisha enjoyed tremendously and there are plans to produce more. Next up as a producer is a film that Tisha describes as “a deeply personal project,” to be directed by Farooki.
Pioneering Bangladeshi filmmaker Tareque Masud won the FIPRESCI award at Cannes in 2002 for “The Clay Bird” and died in an accident in 2011. Farooki has carried on his legacy and there is a generation of filmmakers who are now making a mark internationally. They include Abdullah Mohammad Saad, who was at Cannes last year with “Rehana,” Rubaiyat Hossain (“Made in Bangladesh”), Abu Shahed Emon (“Jalal’s Story”), Amitabh Reza Chowdhury (“Rickshaw Girl”), Rezwan Shahriar Sumit (“The Salt in Our Waters”) and Bijon Imtiaz (“Kingdom of Clay Subjects”) to name just a few.
“I think Bangladeshi film has a bright future because we have lots of young directors who are trying to make something special,” says Tisha.
“Mujib: The Making of a Nation,” is directed by veteran Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal (“The Making of the Mahatma,” “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero”). It is a Bangladesh-India co-production between the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation and India’s National Film Development Corporation. The two organizations are jointly handling international rights sales.