Writer, director, and New York Film Academy graduate Rubaiyat Hossain has travelled with her short films to international festivals since her graduation in 2002. She is currently promoting her first feature film, Meherjaan, which has proven to be quite controversial, and has been unofficially banned in Bangladesh. Despite this, the film has been shown at over 30 film festivals, garnering accolades and winning over audiences across the nation and around the world.
The Hindustan Times sang her praises, saying, “Kudos to Rubaiyat Hossain who had the courage to showcase such a wonderful and inspiring love story, standing at a time when we are facing cross border terrorism.”
Set in 1971 during Bangladesh’s war of independence, Meherjaan tells the story of a a young woman who falls in love with a soldier from the enemy’s side. When her affair is discovered, she is shamed and silenced by her family. Thirty-eight years later, a young stranger forces her to face the truth about her past.
Rubaiyat Hossain works as a researcher and lecturer in her native Bangladesh, exploring issues of women’s rights, sexuality, Sufism, and Bengali nationalism, and how these issues intersect.
In a statement on Meherjaan’s website, Rubaiyat explains, “A war is always made into a glorious narrative with certain male [heroes] and villains. Women mostly appear as sacrificing creatures, [mothers] and sisters who bravely let go of their men for the cause of the nation. Women also appear synonymous to the landscape – ready to be raped, plundered, and give their lives and… chastity for the cause of the nation. The purpose of ‘Meherjaan’ is to break the glorious narrative of national history, and open up a modest avenue to explore… multiple narratives of war.”
Meherjaan screens in New York City as part of the SoHo International Film Festival on Tuesday, April 17 at 9 p.m. at the Sunshine Cinema at 143 E. Houston.