Friday, November 29, 2013

Neelofer’s “Man’s Desire for Fifth Wife” screened at 44th International Film Festival of India

When man desires something and gets it easily, he wants more of it. As William Shakespeare said, desire of having is the sin of covetousness that seems unending.

The Film “Man’s Desire for Fifth Wife” was selected for the 44th IFFI under the category of Cinema of the World (CW) and was screened in Goa on the 25th of November 2013.

The film “Man’s Desire for Fifth Wife” in Dari language of Afghanistan is in many ways an apt example of this. Produced under the banner of Altin Films, the film also poses several questions about male-dominated society and values set centuries earlier that continue to exist.

But more than anything else, this is notable because it is the first time that a film has been made in that region by a crew that was headed by a woman associate director.

This is a particularly important achievement since the film was made in the orthodox Taliban territory where a woman can be stoned to death if even an inch of her body becomes visible to anyone.

For Neelofer Shama who has until now been known for volumes of work for Doordarshan, this was no mean achievement, and she is grateful to the law enforcement authorities in that region that provided her full protection as she went about unhindered with her work.

The 90-minute film (sub-titled in English) has been produced by Sabruddin Rahmani, Murad Hamidi, and Farid Yarash, the film’s casting director was Sediq Abedi who was the story writer as well as the main star with Shakhnaza Jabirwa. The Associate Director was Neelofer Shama while the cinematographer was Ramesh Nath. The background music of the film has been composed by Ravindra Jain, while the production design was by Sanjay Bhan. The costume designers were Hayatullah Alamyar and Emam Berdihof. The editing of the film was done in N S Studio in Delhi while the film was processed at Adlabs and sound was handled on Dolby 7.5 by Empire Studio.

Neelofer says she and her crew had been invited to Tajikistan to make five documentaries there. During this visit, she met the Afghan producer who invited her to shoot a feature film in Afghanistan.

Thus “A Man’s Desire for Fifth Wife” has become the first production after India’s independence to have been made by private filmmakers from both countries.

Along with a nine-member crew, Neelofer shot the film in 42 days in Fariyab which is Taliban territory. She is grateful to producer Sabruddin Rahmani who provided the security personnel so that she could shoot without any fear.

Since local traditions do not allow young women to act, most of the ten women in the film are from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and only aged women are from Afghanistan, Neelofer revealed, adding that the main actress was from Afghanistan but emigrated from the country after the film was completed. The crew also had artistes from Russia and Canada. She also said she could see many local women watching her enviously from a distance
The film has already been screened to a full house at the Boston International Film Festival in April this year.
She is also overwhelmed by the reception the film received at a press meet in Kabul in the presence of General Latif who heads the film department in Afghanistan.

The story of the film based in a village in north Afghanistan revolves around the centuries-old culture which allows a man to have up to four wives. But the twist comes when a man wants to get married for the fifth time and attempts to force a young woman who loves someone else to marry him. The climax comes in a match of the traditional wrestling match "Buzkashi or Oghlak" using thousands of horses.

Encouraged by the love she received from Afghans, Neelofer hopes this will lead to more Indo-Afghan collaborations.

Neelofer Shama has distinguished herself in the world of films and television with an unusually large bouquet of trailblazing serials and documentaries. Starting as early as in 1987, she was one of the pioneers among Independent television producers who shone on the horizon of audio-visual media via Doordarshan.
During her creative journey as director and producer spanning over a period of more than two decades now, she received many laurels and accolades nationally as well internationally. Her documentaries on countries like Tajikistan and Afghanistan with an in-depth analysis of economy, culture and lifestyle of these countries have received great critical acclaim.

She began her career as television producer in 1987 with the making of a documentary film on the unusual historical subject of “Harwan excavations and Avantisvara temple”. Soon after, she made a 90-minute telefilm, “Haadsa (The Accident)”.

She has made over 100 episodes of different creative works for Doordarshan, All India Radio, various Central Ministries, Indira Gandhi National Open University, advertising agencies, and so on, besides making works based on novels by renowned award-winning authors like Amrita Pritam, Indira Goswami and Kartar Singh Duggal.