“As a Muslim, I believe in the concept of heaven & hell. But the film is not about that. It is more about feeling unsatisfied or discontent & fighting for another chance to live those unfulfilled dreams, before the imminent ending of life itself”
Director Chowdhury Asif Jahangir Arko confessess to Cult Critic about his beliefs on life after death. His latest film “Last wish” is about a mother-son relationship and all about fulfilling dreams. The film is made on a sensitive topic, yet it will give you a warm smile at the end. It is a soft, warm and heart-touching film, which tells us if we have will-power and determination, nothing can defeat us. To quench our inquisitive side, we have concocted a bunch of questions for him to whet our curiosity.
Cult Critic : The film has a very unique opening, how did you come up with such an idea?
Chowdhury Asif Jahangir Arko : As the story of the film swings between two different kinds of settings – one is life & the other is afterlife, those had to be distinctly differentiable in both look & feel. I wanted to start the film with the weirder, abnormal & unrecognisable one, which is the afterlife. So I had to play with the colours, camera shots, camera angles, framing & movement, to create an unusual environment from the very beginning.
Cult Critic : Working on such a sensitive topic so smoothly, how did you do this? How was all this planned?
Arko : I think I was sure & confident about what I wanted to say through the film from the beginning. The rest fell into place on the way eventually. The story was very close to my heart & the characters were created from real life people I know very well. I just thought of some incidents & repercussions & imagined how the characters would react to those situations.
Cult Critic : Who or what inspired you to make this film?
Arko : The film is dedicated to my mother Dr. Zebunnessa Parvin, who is a single mother, raising two sons. So, the inspiration obviously came from her & it was made for all mothers everywhere.
Cult Critic : Do you believe in life after death or in the concept of hell and heaven yourself?
Arko : As a Muslim, I believe in the concept of heaven & hell. But the film is not about that. It is more about feeling unsatisfied or discontent & fighting for another chance to live those unfulfilled dreams, before the imminent ending of life itself.
Cult Critic : The ending is very different than expected, how was the ending of the film decided?
Arko : I myself was a little unsure about the ending at first. Though I knew what I wanted, I still thought of keeping an open ending, so viewers can interpret it in their own way. But the one thing I was always sure about, was a hopeful ending that can bring a smile on everyone’s face in the end.
Cult Critic : You are an architect, cartoonist, dancer and filmmaker. How do you manage to juggle between everything?
Arko : I consider myself both equally an architect & a filmmaker. I love practicing architecture. Filmmaking was something new I just wanted to try out & in the process fell in love with. Dance & cartoons are just my hobby. I find architecture & filmmaking very similar. Both have similar disciplines, ways of execution, need functional ideas & require same kind of commitment. So I always use my knowledge & experience gained from architecture in filmmaking. As I love doing both & both comes from my passion of creative work, I don’t feel the extra pressure & find ways to make things work.
Cult Critic : Have you ever had any such experience as shown in the film?
Arko : Obviously I haven’t died & came back to life ever, yet. Also didn’t have a near death accident, but being an architect & an architecture student before that, the constant fear of not meeting deadlines & failing to submit projects haunts me still.
Cult Critic : How difficult was it for you to go for outdoor shoots during this pandemic?
Arko : Shooting during the pandemic was a totally new & different experience for us. We had to delay the production several times. Team members were not available at times. Having permission to shoot outside was an issue. Keeping everyone in the team safe & protected was more important than getting a perfect shot sometimes. But all those complications made us stronger as a team. Everyone gave their best effort in such conditions & we are very proud of the way the film turned out in the end.
Cult Critic : Tell us something about your upcoming projects and when can we see them?
Arko : Working on two new film scripts, which should be ready for production at the end of this year. ARK FILMS BD has organised a story contest named ‘GOLPO CHAI’, during the lockdowns this year, for aspiring writers, who want to see their stories made into films. We also plan to work on comic books & animated films in the near future.
Cult Critic : Lastly , any piece of advice for young filmmakers?
Arko : I don’t consider myself as someone, who actually is worthy enough to give advice. But there are a few quotes I can share, which I really believe in & try to follow myself, like –
“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.” – Dave Willis
“Strive for progress, not perfection.” – David Perlmutter
“When you talk, you’re only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama
“You can’t show everything. If you do, it’s no longer art.” – Robert Bresson.
“I failed my way to success.” – Thomas Edison
An interview by Diyashi Sharma