Dhallywood – A Brief History of Bangla Cinema in Bangladesh

Based in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, Bangla cinema is referred to as Dhallywood, from the words Dhaka and Hollywood.

As early as 1898, films were already shown in Dhaka at the Crown Theatre by the Bradford Bioscope Company. Established in 1898 in Calcutta by Hiralal Sen, the Royal Bioscope Company was the first Bengali organization to produce and exhibit films. Although the films were in Bengali, production work was mostly done in Calcutta. Notable early films made in Dhaka are Sukumari and the Last Kiss, produced by the Nawab family in 1928 and 1931, respectively.

The Picture House, which began operations in 1913, was the first permanent cinema in Dhaka. It was renamed New Picture House, and later on, Shabistan. The film industry grew at a rapid pace that in 1947, there were already around 80 cinemas in the area that is now Bangladesh.

Partitioned from India in 1947, that area became known as East Pakistan. The first film made after the partition was a newsreel on the visit of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The first full-length film with sound came much later. Released in 1956, the movie Mukh O Mukhosh was the based on its director Abdul Jabbar Khan’s play Dakaat (Robbers). More movies were produced that in the 1960s the total yearly production reached 35 films a year.

The quantity continued to increase when East Pakistan gained its independence and became Bangladesh in 1971. One of the first films produced after this tumultuous time was Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (A River Called Titas) by the great director Ritwik Ghatak.

Sadly, contemporary Bangla Natok in Bangladesh has become more commercial in nature. The industry has been subject to criticism for the recent low-quality films focusing only on melodrama, sex, and violence. At present, the industry produces an average of 100 movies a year, where the average budget per movie is 6.5 million Bangladeshi taka.

Source by Anwar Alam

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