Student Nusrat’s story: Family says ‘No’ to celluloid

Feni, May 18 (UNB) – The family of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, whose last days formed one of the most cruellest and ultimately heartbreaking episodes the nation witnessed in recent memory, has categorically rejected any notion of a film or other such dramatisation depicting the chain of events that led to her finally, after a heroic battle, succumbing to her injuries – burns upto 80 percent- at the DMCH Burn Unit on April 10. She was only 19. 

Some five days earlier, on April 6, miscreants hiding behind burqas had lured her to the roof of her school, rather the Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasah in Feni, and set her on fire after pouring kerosene on the poor girl. Some of them were her fellow students at the madrasah. 

They had been turned against Nusrat by the unlikely figure of the madrasah’s principal, Shiraj-ud-Dowla –  a pervert and sexual predator who was in jail at the time, on charges of sexual harassment filed by Nusrat shortly after she rejected an indecent proposal he made calling her into his room on March 27. 

Used to getting his way in most matters around the madrasah, Shiraj could hardly countenance the tenacity and courage Nusrat showed in not just going to the police, something many women find themselves incapable of in our conservative society, but then also refusing to budge under all kinds of pressure to withdraw her complaint. 

In the midst of the global #metoo movement, whereby women have been supporting and encouraging each other in defying the chains placed on them by patriarchy to call time on despicable characters like Shiraj, Nusrat’s story – buttressed by subtle nuances such as the backdrop of the highly conservative setting in which it occurred – immediately captured the entire nation’s imagination, and across borders as well. It ended of course in tears all around, yet the impact was such that it’s fair to assume it will occupy a place in the national consciousness for a long time to come. 

Now it has come to light that a film was proposed by notable director Delwar Jahan Jhantu based on the tragic tale of ‘Nusrat’, which was even set to be the name of the movie. However, Nusrat’s family expressed their unhappiness and disapproval of the entire idea as soon as they came to know of it.

Nusrat’s elder brother Mahmudul Hasan Noman told UNB that some interested film and drama directors have contacted the family to acquire permission regarding their proposed projects on Nusrat, but the family rejected the offers based on their strong religious convictions. Most members of the family such as their father, uncles, grandfather, siblings and cousins are all part of the ‘Alem’ community, so it is impossible for them to approve such a proposal.

Nusrat’s mother Shirin Akter said “My daughter had become a ‘Shahid’ in the name of Allah. Recently we have been hearing that some are planning to make drama and films based on my daughter. Please, do not make any drama or movie based on her. Some have already made a few ghazals and waaz programs – we don’t reject those and they can even make more if they want- but please, do not hurt my daughter’s soul by making dramas and films on the incident.”

She added, “Nusrat had made an impact on billions around the world through her death. She is now resting in eternal peace in her grave. We would not be able to answer her in the Akhiraat (Afterlife) if people hurt her soul by making drama or films on her. My daughter is an innocent flower, please do not harm her. Although she suffered a miserable ending to her life in this world- we believe she will get martyr’s respect in the Akhiraat.”

The filmmakers thus miss out on an epic story, yet it is also doubtful that any of them working in Bangladesh even possess the skills and wherewithal to do it justice on screen in the first place. For now though, the grieving family’s wishes must override all other considerations.