Release of Bengali Movies in Canada: A man behind the scene

02 Jun 2016, 12:01 | updated: 02 Jun 2016, 12:17

Mahbubul Haque Osmani*

‘Ostitto’, a Bengali film by Annona Mamun, has been released commercially in a mainstream Canadian theatre the Cineplex, last 27 May, Friday.  The man who has pioneered this initiative is Sajib Soptok. He has been planning for three years to make this happen. He believes that, to get an international identity of Bangla films, however, there is no easy way to go. He cordially invites Toronto people to come to the cinemas and watch the film.    

Why do you take the initiative to release Bengali films in Canada?

Sajib Shoptok: I have been in Canada for last 3 years. From the very early days in here, I had two aims. Releasing Bangladeshi films commercially in the mainstream Canadian Theatre (like Cineplex) was one of them.

Initially I thought, the answer is very simple—like many other persons I am also passionate about sports and cinema, that's why I am interested to do something in this area. But later I realized, I have a great interest to hear the positives of Bangladesh. I get immensely satisfied when I read an article which says something good of Bangladesh. Fortunately, I have got a friend circle from my childhood, who also think the same. In Bangladesh there are lots of people who love to be the part of something that is positive for the country. For example cricket. It was not the most popular sport even 20 years back. But as long as it started to give Bangladesh a position in the International arena, people started to love the sport most. We, the Bangladeshis, are keen to see a successful image of our country before the world stage.


What motivated you to to work for Bengali films?

Sajib Shoptok: I strongly believe, our film has the same potential (though it is not expressed that way) to go worldwide like our cricket, because Bangladesh is a country of creative people. After a dark period in between, the film industry has been turning in the last two years. A bunch of young talented directors, actors have stepped forward with some of their senior counterparts to bring the change. But as we destroyed the culture of going into the cinema theatre in that dark period, we lost a huge number of middle class people as our audience. Consequently, maximum cinema theatres have lost audience-friendly environment. As a result, most of the good films nowadays are not getting the proper number of audiences. Producers are getting frustrated. They are becoming confused for contributing investments. Total budget of the movie is declining. As the consequence, directors are losing facilities to make a worthy commercial film. I think this is high time to do something positive for the industry.

In our current situation, I believe, the countries where Bangladeshis live can be good options to create new markets for our films. Because, it is very hard especially in Bangladesh to make all the theatres viable in a short period of time whereas there are bunch of quality theatres for the Bangladeshis who live abroad so that they can easily go to the theatre and watch our movies. The situation is we have to make sure, the trend of making good commercial films.

Along with the current market in Bangladesh if we can add 10 new markets (of 1000000 each) around the world, it will definitely make our investors tension free and will make the way for other investors come forward as well.


Why do you take this endeavor in at fast in Toronto?

Sajib Shoptok: First of all, I live in Toronto and fortunately, the city I live in is one of the big hubs of Bangladeshis in the North America. But we can go to other cities of Canada as well like Montreal, Calgary etc. where a good number of Bangladeshis live, because we are now enlisted distributor of Cineplex. We will be able to screen our movies in the Cineplex theatres of any city of Canada.


Do you think audience will welcome ‘Ostitto’ here immensely?


Sajib Shoptok: Well, people will definitely love this initiative immensely for sure as I said earlier, maximum people of Bangladesh are interested to see their country in a good position in whatever the sector is. The initiative is really big if you think, our film industry has not got any identity yet in the world stage but still it will be going mainstreams in one of the biggest cinema theatre companies of the world along with big Hollywood, Bollywood releases. Now, let’s come to the film. Ostitto is definitely a good venture in our contemporary mainstream films. Few years back, our commercial films were stuck in a formula method like songs, action scenes along with spicy societal melodrama. However, in last two years, the scenario of mainstream film has been changed. People will see that change in ‘Ostitto’.


How the Bengali community is reacting towards the film ‘Ostitto’?


Sajib Shoptok:  It took a long time to come to make the Cineplex Entertainment agreed to screen Bangladeshi films commercially as their regular releases. People’s reaction to the film is fantastic. We have created a Facebook page, ‘Release of Bangla Movies in Canada’ to keep our audiences updated. From that page we have started an event as a part of our promotional activities. We see people’s enthusiasm in the event, too. Most of them are very excited to watch Bangla movie in Cineplex.

I want to say them, we are in the very transition phase of our mainstream movies. All the good movies of present time are not turning into masterpieces. There are lots of valid reasons behind that. But definitely, most of our films are promising. Let’s applaud for our own films. I can guarantee you if you encourage the young film-buffs today, these bunch of people will make you proud tomorrow.

So, let’s show the strength of Bangladeshi community in Canada, let’s go to cinemas in groups.


What is your future goal to represent Bangladeshi films?

Sajib Shoptok: My short-term future goal is to strongly involve in the process of globalization of our film. I want to add at least three big markets to Bangla film industry. I would like to thanks my team for working in Swapna Scarecrow Inc and supporting me. They are more than awesome. Our next release will be during the upcoming Eid. We will try to make the release in two other cities of Canada along with Toronto. We have already started working for the releases. My long term future goal is to be a good film director. I want to make Bangla movies which will entertain people like the cricket player Mustafiz’s magical performances do. 


*The writer is a freelance contributor resides in Toronto, Canada.