Wednesday, June 16

Global campaign to restore Satyajit, Ritwik, Mrinal’s ancestral homes in Bangladesh

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An international campaign to restore Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak’s ancestral homes in Bangladesh has been initiated. The decision was taken on Thursday at the central executive committee meeting of the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI), founded by Ray in 1959.
“The matter will be taken up at the international level so that the Bangladesh government gives due importance to preserve all the three ancestral homes of the great masters of world cinema. The issue will be brought to the notice of the Indian government’s ministry of culture, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage and Unesco,” said Premendra Mazumder, vice-president of FFSI and the Asia Pacific secretary of the International Federation of Film Societies (IFFS).

Ghatak’s home in Rajshahi was leased by then military government of Hussain Muhammad Ershad to a private homoeopathy college in the 80s. A recent plan to demolish to make way for a bicycle garage raised a hue and cry among residents and intellectuals in Bangladesh and abroad, with protests being held in in Rajshahi, Dhaka and Toronto. Film personalities of Bangladesh, including Tanvir Mokammel, Morshedul Islam, Nasiruddin Yousuff Bachchu and Shameem Akhtar, staged demonstrations and signed a petition, asking the Bangaldesh government to save not only Ghatak’s home but also that of Ray and Sen. The demolition plan was stalled.

While Ray’s ancestral home is at Mashua in Kishoreganj, Sen’s house is in Faridpur’s Jhiltuli. Ray’s ancestral house is in a dilapidated state now. “Film activists of Dhaka had appealed to the government through the district administration for its immediate renovation and preservation. Sen’s ancestral house has a private owner. Restoring it might prove to be a challenge, unless the current owner cooperates. Most of the property has been demolished to build a new structure. But parts of the original house still remain and can be renovated,” Mazumder added.

Directors in Bangladesh have welcomed FFSI’s initiative. Bachchu told TOI from Dhaka, “The work on building the bicycle garage at Ghatak’s home was stalled. We are now trying to convince the government to build a Ritwik Cultural Centre there. Ghatak’s Dhaka-based niece, Aroma Dutta, an MP, is supporting the cause. We are happy with FFSI initiative.”

Ghatak’s grandniece Ina Puri, who will visit Bangladesh soon, is equally happy: “Given that his twin, Pratiti Devi, died only weeks ago, the need to preserve the legacy of my granduncle’s ancestral home becomes more important now, than ever before. It will be wonderful if his house is preserved, and perhaps, made into a museum.” The Ray family has also welcomed the move.


Source: Times of India

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