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Filmmaker to relive Hariprabha on screen


CS BHATTACHARJEE | Kolkata, May 7, 2012 16:23
Tags : Tanvir Mokammel | ‘Bongo Mohilar Japan Jatra’ | Tanvir Mokammel | Japani Badhu |

Hariprabha Basu MallickBangladeshi filmmaker Tanvir Mokammel will soon bring back Hariprabha Basu Mallick, a Bengali native who migrated to Japan after marrying a Japanese in1912, on silver screen through her travelogue ‘Bongo Mohilar Japan Jatra’.

Tanvir is turning Hariprabha's travelogue into a documentary film called “Japani Badhu”. Today, exactly hundred years back, the 22 year old Hariprabha Basu Mallick from Dhaka travelled to Japan with her Japanese husband Wemon Takeda with whom she fell in love with and got married.

Three years later she became the first woman from Indian subcontinent who published a Bengali book ‘Bongo Mohilar Japan Jatra’ from Japan. The book, her travelogue to Japan, was first published from Dhaka in 1915, four-years before Rabindranath Tagore published his travelogue to Japan, ‘Japan Jatri’.
Tanvir is currently busy in shooting his documentary in West Bengal. On Tuesday, he will be delivering a lecture on the alternative film scenario of Bangladesh at Gaur Banga University in Malda on the occasion of Tagore’s 150th anniversary.

Tanvir is famous for his epoch-making films like Nodir Naam Madhumati (River named Madhumati), Chitra Nodir Pare (Beside River Chitra), Lalon, Lal Shalu etc.
Bangladeshi filmmaker Tanvir Mokammel
According to Tanvir Mokammel, “Hariprabha's first visit to Japan in 1912 was an opportunity for her to not only meet her in-laws but also see the Japanese socio-cultural life. She wrote a memoir, a kind of travelogue about the then Japan which, as portrayed in her book is a different country altogether hundred years back.”

The nondescript woman, Hariprabha, could not have been Tanvir’s subject had she not done something unusual in those days. She used to walk alone through Tokyo's bomb-battered streets in the dead of night to reach radio station to read news in Bengali for Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's Azad Hind Fauz in 1942-44.

Her husband Wemon Takeda had a soap-making factory. But his illness forced the factory to be closed. By that time, Hariprabha permanently shifted to Japan in 1941. Japan by that time was mired in the Second World War.

Revolutionary Rashbehari Bose, the founder of Azad Hind Fauz, helped her to get the job of Bengali news-reader with Tokyo radio to make a living. She had to risk her life during the war not only to eke out a living, but also to take care of her ailing husband.
Finally, her husband died in 1948 and she returned to West Bengal. After returning, she stayed with her sister at Jalpaiguri before breathing her last at Shambhunath Pandit Hospital Kolkata in 1972.

One of her close relative Surojit Dasgupta said, “The life of Hariprabha, his aunt, was like a patch of bright sunshine when societies in India and Japan were clouded by socio-economic backwardness and war.”

Tanvir dreamed about this documentary ten years back and nourished it within himself just to wait for 2012, the centenary year of Hariprabha's travel to Japan.

Journalist Manjarul Haque of Bangladesh and Kajuhiro Watanabe from Japan helped him doing the research for the 67 minute film, being supported by Japan Foundation. The film was also shot in Tokyo, Kobe and Nagoya, the places where Hariprabah had lived or travelled, along with the places in India and Bangladesh.

The documentary film will be premiered in Dhaka in June and then Kolkata and also at Bhopal Film Festival.

After Tanvir's speech tomorrow, two of his films-Lal Shalu and Chitra Nodir Pare-will be screened at Gour Banga University. On 12, his film ‘Lalon’ will be screened at Vidyasagar Milonayatan in Barasat.

Gorky Sadan, the Russian Cultural Centre in Kolkata, will also hold the screening of ‘1971’ -Mokammel's mega-documentary on Bangladesh's liberation war after he delivers a lecture on the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh liberation war.

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Posted By: B.Tarun | New Delhi | May 9th 2012 | 04:05
A most informative piece indeed. A film on the life of the Bengali lady who married a Japanese during the early years of the 20th century will be definitely interesting. But the life of the person who got her a job to read Bengali news on the Japanese Radio during the second world war is, I think, more interesting. Yes, I am talking about the 'Bose of Nakamuraya', the best work on Rashbehari Bose so far. (It is strange, not one Bengali researcher ever thought it worthwhile to do a similar work in Bengali so far, nor has any college, street publisher ever considered to go out of their Battola mindset to delve into any such publication, with the Calcutta University or the Netaji Research Institute remaining unmoved too!) In fact, a film on Rashbihari Bose would be far more gripping than even Som Benegal's on Subhash--'Bose the forgotton hero' Most Bengalis have not read the book. This book by Takeshi Nakajima was funded by the Japan Foundation, which is also funding the film on this lady. Is it possible that our lady who takes some kind of pride in paying tribute to those Bengalis should ever be advised to feel impelled to encourage such a venture? In that event, not only the Japan Foundation, even the Japanese government may be interested as this will bring into focus some of the Japanese leaders of that time with whom Bose had links, including the Chinese leader Sun Yat Sen.
Posted By: A Banerjee | Chennai | May 8th 2012 | 17:05
Grateful for the article. For the first time this perhaps become known. Is the book ‘Bongo Mohilar Japan Jatra’ available still?

Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017