Jibon Thekey Neya (Glimpses Of Life, 1970): The First Political Film in Pre-Liberation Bangladesh and A Cinematic Metaphor for Nationalist Concerns


The year 1970 was significant for Bangladeshi cinema. It was the time when the collective aspirations to construct a new national and cultural identity appeared on Bangladeshi screens, in tandem with the contemporary political situation. Just a few years earlier, in 1966, a new wave of a militant movement had swept over Pakistan when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced the Six Point programme. The Six Point, which was widely referred to as the Magna Carta of the Bengalis, drew strength from secular consciousness of the Bengali people and from the economic deprivation of East Pakistan. Slowly it cemented the struggle for a new nation. Jibon Thekey Neya (Glimpses of life, 1970), a film by Zahir Raihan, captures the crucial moment of Pakistani repression by presenting the national experiences and exploitation of Bengalis under the military dictatorship of Ayub Khan. This paper explores how the film, within a family melodrama, introduced a new cinematic style by transforming personal stories into collective and symbolic narratives. The paper argues that by presenting contemporary facts and the identifiable shared narrative of Bengalis through a metaphoric form of fiction, Jibon Thekey Neya can be seen as the first instance of ‘national cinema’ in Bangladesh, even before its emergence as an independent state. The author also looks at how gender difference is constructed, interpreted and entangled with the concept of nation in the crisis moment of history.

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