Annual Memorial Speech for Hiralal Sen at Shilpakala Academy

Cultural Correspondent
Thursday, December 28th, 2017


The annual Hiralal Sen Memorial Speech was held on December 24. Filmmaker Tanvir Mokammel delivered this year’s speech at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Federation of Film Societies of Bangladesh (FFSB) organised the special session every year commemorating Hiralal Sen, the first filmmaker in the Indian sub-continent. This year’s focal point of discussion was Alternate cinemas in Bangladesh, the expenses and reserves.


Belayet Hossain Mamun the present, general secretary of FFSB delivered the welcome speech highlighting the life and works of Hiralal Sen before the main concern of the session regarding contemporary issues is elaborated. Lailun Nahar Shemi, chairman of FFSB presided over the session. Liaquat Ali Lucky, director general of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy was present as the special guest.


To highlight his contribution, discussants pointed out to the time when Sen worked. On December 28, 1895 the world’s first movie was shown in Paris. In India, the first show was held at Watson Hotel in Bombay on July 7, 1896. Hiralal Sen’s challenges were far more than merely those any medium faces in its nascent stages. He lived in a colony that was far removed from Europe and had no access to either technology or infrastructure. When he showed his films, the city had electric supply in only two areas, and he had to make elaborate arrangements to screen movies.


Hiralal Sen had to procure elaborate apparatus to produce lime light. He burnt lime in a bath with oxygen that was stored in a bladder. It produced a bright light that would light up the screen. The process was fraught with risks and could have involved minor explosions.


Sen was a pioneer who made movies – documentaries and product commercials – but has remained unknown to most even in his own country. Sen not only experimented with the new medium, but also made fundamental contributions to it.

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