"Made in Bangladesh" has gained rave reviews – all over the world – for its groundbreaking telling of the story of an ordinary girl who paved her way to become the union leader of a garments factory.
Although the film has received accolades for its intriguing concept, the movie has yet to be released in Bangladesh.
Speaking to the Business Standard, Rubaiyat Hossain, director of "Made in Bangladesh" provided a synopsis of his movie and how Dalia's story informed the film.
Through a common friend, he was able to meet Dalia, who was working at a garments factory in Rampura.
"This movie is based on the real-life story of Dalia. Here, my entire focus is on Dalia's struggles and will because she is the hero of my movie," added the director.
Rubaiyat worked on the screenplay for more than two years; shooting finally began in 2018 and wrapped within 36 days. Dalia was present throughout the shoot and helped the producers grasp the true essence of garment workers' lives and struggles.
She gave in-depth insights to every actor so that they could bring the characters to life.
Asked why he chose Dalia's story from among the thousands of tales of garment workers, Rubaiyat replied, "I was enticed by Dalia's story of empowerment; how she worked up the courage and spirit to fight the adversities of life by refusing to accept life's perils."
He continued, "At age 11 she was forced to get married but she decided to escape to Dhaka. She began earning her livelihood by working at shoe factories and at people's houses. Finally, she found her calling in a garments factory where she slowly, but steadily, moved her way into becoming a union president. If she had gotten married then she could not have achieved her position – and this movie would not have been made."
The movie is creating waves globally as Dalia, along with the film's director and producer, are travelling around Europe to promote the film.
"When I was doing research for my documentary, I was able to see the painful conditions of garment workers. The faces of the dead bodies of Rana Plaza's victims kept haunting my mind. Through this movie I wanted to highlight how garments industry union organisers united to establish their rights amidst struggles. Dalia created a revolution when she formed the union body in 2013 at the age of 21. Additionally, of her 21 demands she was able to make sure that 17 demands were fulfilled," added the director.
Rubaiyat is eager to showcase the movie to garment workers and hopes to release the movie in April. He will soon apply for a censor board certificate and wants to keep the movie available for online streaming so that workers may access it.
Rubaiyat expressed his great dissatisfaction with the state of cinema halls in Bangladesh. He said, "It is hard to obtain a hall if your movie does not have energetic songs. "Meherzaan" was released in seven halls, "Under Construction" was released in 5 halls. These movies could hardly survive in a hall for more than a week. It is really heartbreaking to see that we hardly get any halls in our own country when the film is screened in 67 halls in France."
He added, "The good news is that our films have been able to make a niche in the global market. We have shown to the world that we are capable of making good movies."
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, in Canada, and was showcased at the London BFI Festival, as well as other festivals. The film was shown in 51 theatres in France, seven halls in Denmark, and in Portugal, the movie was commercially released in one theater. Currently the film is in its fifth week in France, occupying 64 halls in the country, where it is doing remarkably well.
The cast of the movie includes: Rikita Nandini Shimu, Novera Rahman, Dipannita Martin, Parvin Paru, Mayabi Rahman, Mostofa Monwar, Shatabdi Wadud, Momena Chowdhury, Joy Raj, Wahida Mollick Jolly, and Samina Luthfa, among others. In addition, the movie will also include guest appearances by Mita Chowdhury and Indian actor Shahana Goswami.
When asked about his future film plans, the director said that the producers are eager to make a sequel to "Made in Bangladesh," as the story is open-ended. Apart from this, Rubaiyat is currently busy writing the plot of his next movie and will soon be ready to make an announcement about it.