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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jhar Jailya : Molla Sagar’s new documentary on the riders of the sea

By Jamil Mahmud, April 8, 2009

Independent filmmaker Molla Sagar's new documentary "Jhar Jailya" (Natives of Tornado) premiered on April 6 at the Shawkat Osman Auditoium, Central Public Library.

The young filmmaker, who has so far made critically-acclaimed documentaries such as "Shironamhin 23 July," "Chalo Mon Natok Dekhtey Jai" and "Dudh Koyla" on crucial issues, this time highlights the hard-knock lives of the fishermen communities living in the coastal areas. 
According to the documentary, among 50 million inhabitants of the coastal areas in Bangladesh, nearly 20 million are somehow related to the fishing business. Of them, 1.2 million randomly stay in the deep sea with dreams of getting a big catch. Thousands of them often face the intolerable cruelty of the sea as monsoon storms appear without warning. The approximately 40-minute documentary narrates the plight of these fishermen -- many of who remain missing forever and very few survive.

Sagar uses several newspaper cuttings and TV footage throughout the documentary. His clever use of radio transmission as the background commentary points to the weakness of our radio warning system. When the fishermen stay in the deep-sea, radio transmission is the lone source of communication with the mainland. Unfortunately radio often fails to guide and save them.The other major issue addressed in the documentary is the constant pressures from the boat-owners and 'mahajan,' who force the fishermen to go out to the sea even during the perilous times of April to June when monsoon storms frequent the weather. Sagar's documentary conveys the message that if the authorities fulfil some basic needs of the fishermen such as ensuring life jackets and IDs for everyone and guide them with authentic weather forecast then it would be possible to save many lives and identify the missing ones.Coast Trust and Life Bangladesh are the producers, while Sagar himself is the editor and cinematographer of the film.

After the screening, a discussion was held at the venue. Filmmaker and teacher Manzare Hasin Murad, Executive Director of Coast Trust Rezaul Karim and Human Rights activist Dr. Hamida Hossain spoke on the film. Dr. Tofael Ahmed, adviser, Coast Trust was the moderator of the discussion.In association with Manusher Jonno Foundation, Coast Trust was the organiser of the event.


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