Anonno Mamun, the Bangladeshi director, was arrested on Friday along with actor Mohammed Shaheen Mridha for allegedly depicting the country’s police in a poor light in his film Nabab LLB.
According to Dhaka Metropolitan Police News (DMP), the online portal of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, a clip of the film went viral depicting a sexual assault survivor trying to file a complaint at a police station. According to the news portal, the scene depicted a police officer (played by Mridha) using vulgar gestures and offensive language while interrogating the sexual assault survivor (played by Orchita Sporshia).
Shakib Khan, a popular actor in Bangladesh, plays a lawyer in the film.
A clip depicting the interrogation scene went viral on Facebook last week after the film’s release on a local streaming platform on December 16. As per the DMP report, the police force found the clip “vulgar and offensive”. “The film with its content is not only unsuitable to be watched by families, but will also create negative perceptions about police in the public,” the report added.
The two were produced in court on Friday and were charged with “making a film with pornographic content” over a scene depicting the sexual assault.
DMP Commissioner Mohammed Shariful Islam said that the actors fashioned police uniforms without the consent of the police and portrayed them in a bad light.
A senior police officer told AFP Saturday that the film “insulted the entire force”.
“The plot is completely fabricated and unpleasant. It is based on total falsehood,” the officer said, requesting anonymity.
If found guilty, Mamun and Mridha can face up to seven years in jail.
Films are usually vetted by the country’s censorship board but regulations to include streaming service content are yet to be finalised.
The arrests were denounced by rights activists, who said the film accurately depicted the struggles that sexual assault survivors face in Bangladesh.
“These arrests are nothing new but the continuation of attacks on artistic freedom,” activist Rezaur Rahman Lenin told AFP.
On October 12, Bangladesh amended its rape law, that changed the maximum punishment from life in prison to death.