Private Project

Barren Waters

‘Nona Pani- Barren Waters’ is a story of people who do not have a tale worth telling—at least by themselves. Affected by the impact of climate change such as Cyclone Aila, the trauma of internal migration and dislocation, change of profession, silent cries for self-identity, and the film tells the story of some rural but universal characters. They have a life to live but no command of their own destiny.
Romba, Doshpai, and Krishna represent life in the small village of Botkhali, near the Sundarbans, Southwestern Bangladesh.
Romba, 28, a victim of Aila, the cyclonic outburst of climate change in the country, migrated to Botkhali like many others in hopes of a better livelihood but Botkhali proved to be as barren as the land she left behind. The emergence of shrimp culture had separated them from their traditional agro-based livelihoods. Water and land are so saline that no crops can be grown there. The collection of shrimp eggs from River Vadra has become their only mean to survive. They also have to do it at night bearing all sorts of risks. Romba is traumatized by the loss of her neighbor’s seven-month-old daughter to a wild cat while at work and the low prospects of a future in the village means she needs to find something for her son, Sohag, who is 8 but growing fast. She has developed a physical relationship with a boatman who seasonally visits Botkhali in hopes that someday the boatman will appoint her son as an assistant to him.
Doshpai, 40, is believed to be the biological son of the Head of a local Hindu temple. However, many people think that Doshpai does not qualify as a ‘son’ because he is a eunuch. Doshpai is a mysterious character who lives in an abandoned room next to the temple but does not have any access to the temple. His only window to the external world is a radio. His dancing skills are unknown to all and sundry. His connection with villagers, particularly with women is through his expertise in piercing the ear and nose.
Krishna, 25, is a junior artist in a troupe of Jatra-- traditional rural theatre form in Bangladesh. She has got a melodious voice but an unattractive body with small breasts. This has become a barrier for her to be the lead actress in her troupe. She has to face a lot of humiliation regularly from the audience and from her co-actors as well. In order to take center stage she uses a push-up bra to feel attractive but this artificial arrangement cannot help her for long.
All three protagonists are intertwined with each other through the village, loneliness, desperation, and their fight for their rights. They want an identity; a future in the village but the lack of support renders them unable to challenge authority.
The narrative is non-linear in structure. Like netting the eggs of shrimps from the river, the film also collates numbers of fractions of their lives. The film tries to collect the inner and external split of the personality of the protagonists without drawing any conclusion. The performance of Jatra in the film gives the film a ‘film within a film’ characteristic. But life is not a Jatra (theatre), the film shows us - it is more than that.

  • Syeda Neegar Banu
  • Syeda Neegar Banu
  • Abul Khair
  • Bilkis Banu Jaba
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Nona Pani নোনা পানি
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    2 hours 5 minutes 49 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 13, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    74,340 USD
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
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Director Biography - Syeda Neegar Banu

I am a female filmmaker & an independent consultant in the field of film making including fiction, experimental & documentary, concept development, production, script writing, camera, editing & directing with over 17 years. I have an MA in Video Production and Film Studies from the University of West London, United Kingdom.

Since 2014, I am working as the Director of Parallel Cine Movement (PCM), Khulna, which is the leading organization in the initiative to foster a Gono-Cinema film institute in Bangladesh.

Nona Pani (Barren Waters) debuted in the feature film which is released in 2013. Apart from this, I made more than 20 films as the director & scriptwriter. One of my co-direction films titled `The Trap’ won the Singer Best Independent Shorts Award and my films participate in many film festivals. I am also working as a supervisor & producer of young filmmakers’ film projects since 2018 to date. A total number of 22 short films and more than 150 videos are produced under my supervision.

With more than 17 years of experience in both TV & film media, I have worked for a number of national and international agencies like Bengal Foundation, Dhaka, CSS Khulna, AFA, South Korea, Berlinale & Delhi Talent Campus, Bangla TV, London, etc. I conducted several film-related workshops.

My unique research is Gono-Cinema, a concept of a community-based filmmaking process in rural areas.
The philosophy of my work is making independent films in rural areas with the people & for the people. I believe in community participation in the filmmaking process, marketing, distribution, screening, and training. I always use the spirit and forms of traditional indigenous & local popular cultural tools in my film activities. I don’t believe in the propaganda of film and screen politics and have faith in media.

Contact: 0088 01793598881

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