Arts and Culture
This paper looks at art cinema filmmaking of East Pakistan during the 1960s. It centres around Zahir Raihan, the veteran filmmaker-author who penned stories and novels bringing the down-trodden in focus as well as became well-known for his 'nationalist' films. I start my analysis with the first film in which Raihan worked as an assistant to the Pakistani-British director A J Kardar in his 1959 film Day Shall Dawn (this film was shot by Walter Lassally; it was shown as a ‘classic’ in 2016 Cannes film festival). Zahir Raihan started his film authorship with an unlikely debut in 1960: Never Came, a film about a painter who cannot paint as he is netted in turmoils of psychological, social and financial kinds. Interestingly, Raihan was not alone in authoring such 'European' art cinema in 1960s East Pakistan. There were Sadeq Khan (River and Woman), Abdus Samad (Sunbath) and others. I look at these 'art' films of the Bengal delta and investigate how these were in a relationship with 'Europe'. Here I ask: have these films ‘Europeanized’ East Pakistan cinema in the 1960s, or vice versa? So far these films have been considered as a locally grown film-trend with almost no interaction with European cinema, always putting them within a nationalist framework. This paper thus plans to bring these films out of such condensed ‘national’ bracket by investigating how these films and filmmakers have been in dialogue with the political and cinematic movements as well as modern film language(s) of/in Europe.