In Bangladesh, a drama titled ‘Ghotona Shotyo’ (incident is true) has generated severe reaction in the society as the drama terms autistic children as “product of sin”. According to media reports, this special tele-fiction, directed by Rubel Hasan and produced by Central Music & Video (CMV), a company owned by an individual named Helal Khan, a leader of the cultural wing of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has enraged audience and members of the civil society due to its cruelty towards autistic children or children with special needs.
The story of Ghotona Shotto follows a couple who deceive people around them. Towards the end, it is shown that they have a child with special needs. In one scene, the couple wonders if the condition of their autistic child is a result of their misdeeds and sin.
The fiction stars actors Mehazabien Chowdhury and Afran Nisho.
People condemned the message portrayed in the tele-fiction, raising questions about the sensitivity of the writes, makers, actors and its producer towards the topic of autistic children. Although CMV claimed to have taken down the content from their YouTube channel, according to information, the content has not been removed. Instead, the company has just put it as ‘private’.
Blitz has spoked to Uday Bangali, a film and drama maker in Bangladesh, on this matter.
Blitz: In a recent status of social media you have expressed reaction at the controversial tele-fiction Ghotona Sotto. Being a maker, do you believe those dialogues in the drama were mere mistakes?
Uday Bangali: I don’t think it was a mere mistake. You have to go through many steps to publish content in the national media. After a lot of filtering, content is broadcast on TV or digital platform. So there is no chance to say that such a sensitive incident is a mere mistake at all.
Blitz: Under the existing Bangladesh law, bullying autistic people is a punishable offense. Anyone committing such a crime is liable to three years of imprisonment and BDT 500,000 fine. Do you think the producer, director and actors of this controversial drama deserve to be charged under the existing law for bullying autistic people?
Uday Bangali: I think the appropriate law should be used properly for every citizen of the country. Who is guilty, who is not guilty will be decided by His Excellency the Court.
Blitz: To our knowledge, CMV has not withdrawn the content from their YouTube channel. Instead it has been concealed from the public as a ‘Private’ content. But now the company is going to make it public after aborting those controversial dialogues. Does it make any sense?
Uday Bangali: Dialogue alone does not become content. So just changing a few dialogues will not change the theme of the content. The key is what information content is giving. There is no problem if the director or the producer revises/ re-broadcasts the content. However, the bad experience that people with disabilities have experienced around this content may come back to haunt them.
Blitz: When the government is working for the autistic people and Prime Minister’s daughter Saima Wazed has been tirelessly working for them. Under such circumstances, why did a production company, which is owned by a leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, produce this controversial drama?
Uday Bangali: I don’t seem to find any political involvement here, but I’m not sure. If art is used as a political tool, it is really annoying. Lack of adequate research, lack of interest, syndicate violence, unequal budgets, and the whims of television channels have gradually engulfed our content.
Blitz: By bullying autistic people, CMV and the entire team of the drama has hurt the autistic people, their parents and family members. How can a simple apology heal the pain in this regard?
Uday Bangali: It’s stupid if someone believes a simple apology can heal the pain. As a filmmaker, as a conscious citizen, I am ashamed of all the special children. We don’t really have a face to apologize for. I just want to remind you, Autism isn’t a curse, it’s a blessing.
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