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Tareque Masud, 1956 - 2011

The Bangladeshi director's life has been cut short by a head-on collision. His wife and producer remains in critical condition.

Bangladeshi filmmaker Tareque Masud died yesterday in a head-on collision with a bus outside Dhaka, report Syed Zain al-Mahmood and Saad Hammadi in the Guardian. Also in the car were his wife, the American-born producer Catherine Masud and painter Dhali Al Mamun (both now in the hospital in critical condition); and Ashfaque Munier Mishuk, CEO of ATN News, who died in the crash.

The Guardian: "Masud, 55, rose to prominence with the films Muktir Gaan [Song of Freedom] in 1995 and Matir Moina [The Clay Bird] in 2002, the latter based on his experiences as a madrassa student during Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971. The film won a Fipresci prize at the 2002 Cannes film festival and was the first Bangladeshi film to compete for the best foreign-language film award at the Oscars…. Thousands of people gathered at the Central Shaheed Minar monument in Dhaka on Sunday to pay their respects. The education minister, Nurul Islam Nahid, said: 'It is a very unfortunate incident for us. Masud through his movies had given a new dimension to liberation war.'"

"Tareque Masud was every inch a modern man," writes Syed Badrul Ahsan in the Daily Star. "That is something you can say about few people around you. His blend of patriotism and pragmatism was what constituted the individuality in him. Having been a student of history, having educated himself in the wider cosmopolitan study of the world he was part of, he found it eminently convenient to pass on the knowledge he had come by to all of us. In Muktir Gaan, he let the theme speak for itself. For those among us who saw the War of Liberation as history that was swiftly slipping out of our grasp, Tareque Masud, through Muktir Gaan, helped us claim it back in our collective life. More to the point, it was to the young, to those born after the war, that he offered history on a platter. Tareque Masud did for us what political propaganda could never do. He kept history on the heights."

In 2003, the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw reviewed The Clay Bird, "a first feature from documentarist Tareque Masud, autobiographical, but refreshingly without egotism or conceit. It's a vision of childhood with its own beguiling simplicity and gentleness, alternating an intense family chamber drama with breathtaking crowd scenes and giant setpieces. It is quietly superb filmmaking, and Masud makes it look as easy as breathing. The affecting story he has to tell is positioned alongside both the political trauma of Bangladesh's emergence as an independent state from the wreckage of East Pakistan and, perhaps most remarkably, a critique of Islam, offered without rancor or sensation, but enough to get the movie banned until relatively recently in Bangladesh."

Update, 8/15: "Masud's first film, Adam Surat (The Inner Strength), a documentary about the Bangladeshi painter Sheikh Mohammed Sultan, was begun in 1982 and only completed seven years later," writes Ronald Bergan in the Guardian. "By that time, he had met and married the Chicago-born Catherine Shapere, with whom he formed a close working relationship. She produced, co-wrote and edited The Clay Bird, and they directed a number of documentaries together, made by their own production firm Audiovision, based in Dhaka…. At the time of Masud's death, the couple had been working on The Paper Flower, which deals with the problems of the partition of the Indian subcontinent, a sort of prequel to The Clay Bird."

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