Among the only two survivors in the family of Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation that was mercilessly wiped out, a fate they escaped by being abroad, and unable to return home for another six years, Sheikh Hasina faced plenty of vicissitudes in her life, including terrorist attacks, but never faltered in her dream of rebuilding and developing her motherland.
How Sheikh Hasina, the elder daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established herself as a saviour, turning her torrent of grief at losing her parents and almost all other family members into strength, has now been revealed on celluloid through untold stories, including like her first journey to Dhaka by boat or the first cooking lesson.
“Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale”, screened again on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of her homecoming in 1981, leaves a lasting impression on all its viewers as it portrays all the highs and lows of her life.
The 70-minute movie, based on the first-person narrative of Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana, directed by Piplu Khan and produced by Bangabandhu’s grandson Radwan Mujib Siddiq and state Minister Nasrul Hamid, both trustees of policy-based thinktank CRI, required five years of research, story building, shooting, and post-production, setting an example in the visual industry of Bangladesh.
Indian background scorer Debojyoti Mishra composed music for the docudrama that created the perfect melancholic background for the tragic events unfolding in her life.
The film has been screened across the world, including India’s Goa film festival and Kolkata’s Nandan-I, earning accolades for its thorough research, minute detailing, and fiction-like presentation. One has to just see how a young woman, pushed to the pit of pain and bereavement, fights back to reclaim her space and leads a nation back to its course of progress and prosperity.
Sheikh Hasina didn’t just stop grieving but fought back to return to power and punish the war criminals who committed genocide, as the auxiliary force of the brutal Pakistan army, unleashing death and humiliation on millions of Bengalis in 1971 – not only those who massacred her family!
“Imagine you, on a brief tour of an unknown territory, on another part of the planet from your hometown, wake up to a phone call, ominously ringing early in the morning, and come to know that your entire family has been gunned down by a group of disgruntled army officers…..! “
This exactly happened to Sheikh Hasina in 1975 when she was in Belgium. As she turned on the television, all the global news channels were broadcasting the same news, the assassination of the Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the very man who had led all the struggles of a nation towards its freedom. That’s where the daughter’s tale begins.
Through this movie, that the luxury and comfort that she had been allowed as a daughter of a Prime Minister, was snatched away outright the moment her father was assassinated.
The foreign diplomat, who had so ornately welcomed Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana in his house, changed his mind in a moment, even refusing to offer his car to take them to the airport. “Her story of moving on to relentlessly pursue her goal even outshines Hollywood movie plots or Charles Dickens storylines. It’s an inspiration for women unwilling to give up,” said Rafa, an undergraduate student of political science after watching the docudrama.
Sheikh Hasina had to undergo six agonising years before she could set her foot back in the country, whose voice for freedom is now celebrated by the world. As the country was virtually terrorised by military dictators, she was not even allowed to enter the Dhanmondi 32 residence of her father, the historic site from where Bangabandhu had declared independence from the repressive regime of Pakistan.
The military dictators, capitalising on the void created by the death of the father of the nation, left no stone unturned to wipe out the name of Bangabandhu and obliterate the spirit of the Liberation War. They even passed an indemnity ordinance to legally protect his killers. War criminals were celebrated while war heroes were persecuted.
As Sheikh Hasina flew back to the country in 1981, a glimmer of hope flashed through the nation with more than a million people gathering near the airport to receive their leader.
Hoever, it took nine long years of leading a mass protest against a military dictator before things changed.
Overwhelmed by the stranger-than-fiction struggle in real-life Sheikh Hasina’s story, journalism student Hritika said: “Today, we shudder at the thought of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, which is plugging all avenues of freedom for women. But, the same could happen in Bangladesh if Sheikh Hasina didn’t show zero tolerance against religious radicals and brought war criminals to book.
“As a woman, I take pride in the fact that a lady set the precedence of guiding a nation fighting religious fanatics who had spread their roots so deep in post-1975 Bangladesh. Watching ‘..The Daughter’s Tale, I was stupified to observe that extremists tried to kill Hasina the same way their predecessors murdered her father.
“Fortunately, this time Sheikh Hasina narrowly escaped a massive grenade attack. So many tragedies can hardly happen in one life. But, still, she is carrying on the legacy of her father, gifting Bangladesh with a war criminal-free territory, an inclusive and cultural society, a sustainable infrastructure, and a middle-income status. What more inspiring can be a woman’s story?”
–By Sumi Khan