Tokon Thaakoor’s arrest and the state of government granted films

Noted filmmaker Tokon Thaakoor was arrested on October 25, following a case made by the Ministry of Information alleging that he misappropriated government funds.

Thaakoor was taken to Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Abu Sufian MD Noman's court in the morning yesterday, where he received bail after lawyers from the state and his side argued the case. The bail was made in exchange of a BDT 2000 muchleka (bond).

The case, made in 2016, accuses Tokon Thaakoor of misappropriating money from the government granted film Kaata, which he was supposed to direct. The film was supposed to be based on the story written by late novelist Shahidul Zahir. Even though Thakoor allegedly picked up BDT 13 Lakh out of the allotted BDT 35 Lakh, he was unable to finish the film.

In a previous interview with The Daily Star, Tokon Thaakoor had commented that even though he had finished the shooting, he dubbing, background score and publication costs were a concern. "The government grant simply did not provide enough to complete the film," he had said.

Many in the film industry have speculated possible reasons behind the incident. "It has been heard that Tokon Thaakoor has spent around BDT 16 lakh just to get done with the shooting," said director and producer Josim Ahmed in an article published in The Daily Star yesterday. "He also lacked previous experience in this genre. That might explain why it took him almost 7 years to finish shooting for the film, as he was often seen fighting financial inadequacy."

Since 1976, the government has been funding several films each year. However, from 1997-98 to 1999-2000, the government postponed the grants. From 2008-2018, a staggering 22 full-length films were funded, but are yet to be released. From 2007-2015, 41 films received grants, among which only 15 of the films were released.

"The government funds come from the people's pockets, and so directors should at least finish the production of these films," shares noted filmmaker Nasiruddin Yousuff Bachchu. The noted director expressed concern over how many directors fail to finish the production while many of them fail to even start the production of these films.

"Previously, the given amount was not enough for films, but at present, I believe with the increased amount, it is more than enough to finish a film production," expresses Nasiruddin Yousuff Bachchu. "It is a disgrace to arrest a director on such claims as these issues could have been solved in another manner. Arresting a director on these claims will not solve this problem."

Actor- director Animesh Aich, who plays a role in "Kaata", feels that the funds should have been better managed. "Directors should allot their production budget in accordance with the received funds to avoid such problems in the future," he says.

The arrest warrant was made on October 3, and Tokon Thaakoor was arrested from his residence in Katabon at 8:30 pm on October 25. Even though the accused was granted bail, a much deeper problem lies in many filmmakers' management of government film grants over the years.

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