Monday, 29 August 2011

Tareque Masud obituary letter

James Leahy writes: Ronald Bergan's insightful obituary of my friend Tareque Masud (17 August) describes the great financial risk taken by Tareque and Catherine, his wife and producer, when they invested their own resources in the production of The Clay Bird. Only by working outside the institutional norms of Bangladeshi feature film finance and production was it possible for Tareque to realise his vision.

His use of direct sound (or "live sound", as he called it) was more or less without precedent in subcontinental feature film-making. Consequently, the only appropriate sound equipment available when shooting The Clay Bird was what he and Catherine purchased for the production themselves. Obviously, this was an extra demand on their limited finances. However, the result was an evocative soundtrack that made an important contibution to the immediacy and impact of both the dramatic and musical sequences.

Tareque's next feature, Homeland, shown in 2006 as part of the Voices of Bengal exhibition at the British Museum, was shot in digital video. He insisted it be released in cinemas as well as shown on television. It was a popular success in both cases, and on DVD as well. Once again, there are moments of great poetic impact in his use of sound, whilst his choice to set the film in the Sylhet area meant that he was working with the speech of that area, effectively a different language from that in his previous films.

Although Tareque was genuinely a pioneer, his work had deep roots in both the film art of the past (Jean Renoir, Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson) and in Bengali culture, not only the "high culture" of Rabindranath Tagore or Satyajit Ray, but, as he told me, the "rural, folk and un-modern parts", which he described as "egalitarian, inclusive and syncretic". © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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