Interview: Ria Mahtab - Co-Director of Bangla Movie Simanaheen (2013) Chats with Gurjeet Singh on WBRi

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Ria Mahtab - Director, Bengali movie SIMANAHEENChicago, March 3, 2013 (Washington Bangla Radio): Ria Mahtab was born and grew up in Bangladesh and moved to the United States to attend college in the mid 1990s. As is usual in Bengali households, Ria grew up in an environment of music and dance. She took lessons in dancing and performed in shows. Also in high school, Ria got together with some other girls and they formed a music group - a band - which she enjoyed very much. After a few years of performing with the band, the members started to drift away to different countries in pursuit of higher education, and Ria came here to the US.

Ria continued to be deeply involved with Bengali cultural activities in the United States and quickly became a regular dance performer in events in the Chicago  area.

As Ria moved out of academics and started working, her involvement with cultural activities went on a decline. She was missing that part of herself and looking for opportunities when Kevin Dalvi and the Simanaheen team asked her if she would help direct the feature film. Though lacking experience in film-making, Ria took the opportunity to come back to the creative world.

Describing Simanaheen from the unique perspective of a director, Ria describes the Bangla film as a love story from two different eras, but to the story of the love story they have brought a much deeper story about society. In the old days, when two people from different religious communities fell in love, they were not accepted by either community. You would think in this day and age the differences we create as human beings with religion would not matter any more. But in reality they do exist and that is what Simanaheen tries to show. But, the broader story is we are all human beings and there is not much different between us based on religious affiliation. The message of the film is religion should not be a divider for the people.

The film has released in Bangladesh. Though controversial in nature, the audience has received it well, concentrating more on the entertaining love story portrayed on the screen and not giving too much importance to the inter-religion issues that may have drawn the irk of some fundementalists.

Simanaheen has had two special screenings in Chicago and Detroit. Ria is pleased to reveal that in those special screenings, or even during the making of the film, there has been no negativity or negative comments received by the film's unit, which is very encouraging.

Talking about her next film, Ria tantalizes us with hints of a story that she is writing with goal of making it into a film.


Watch Simanaheen Official Theatrical Trailer (Bengali Film)

Drawing inspiration from the romantic classics of yesteryear, Simanaheen is the tale of an eternal search for love told through two relationships in two different eras.

Hindu-Muslim relationships don't only experience difficulty during times of partition and terrorism. They exist even today, all around us.

Such is the experience of Raiyan and Kavita. Though they live today, Raiyan and Kavita find the same societal pressures around them.

Simanaheen is the story of this modern love, the modern barriers to it, and how little has changed since the time of Amar and Suraiya, Simanaheen's pre-partition lovers. It is the story of how we face society and the often-difficult path that stands between us and our love.

Release Date Feb 14 2013
Genre Romance/Drama
Studio NEQUA Studios
Star Cast Rahsaan Islam, Ismat Alamgir
Directed By Kevin Dalvi, Ria Mahtab
Produced By Sunny Verma

Guest: Ria Mahtab, Chicago, Illinois
Host: Gurjeet Singh, Washington, DC
Recording, Editing, Article: Supratim Sanyal, Washington, DC