In 2004, Richard Layard, from the London School of Economics, led a research initiative that proved the people of Bangladesh are the happiest in the world.
As this seemed an antithesis to the hardships inherent to the abject poverty often used to describe life in the South Asian country, director, Golam Rabbany, was propelled to explore the possibilities of these findings.
In his debut feature, On the Wings of Dreams, Rabbany presents the story of a family from rural Bangladesh, using the country’s ‘hard economic facts’ as its leitmotif.
“I did not set out to showcase the level of poverty,” he told viewers, following the screening. “I wanted to show their strength of character and life philosophy,” he added.
On the Wings of Dreams, which premiered in the Contemporary World Cinema category at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last year, depicts the ways in which the average Bangladeshi routinely employs philosophy of this nature to guide his steps.
Rabbany, who is Secretary General of the International Federation of Film Societies, says while making the feature, he discovered money was not among the primary sources of contentment for the people with whom he conversed. In fact, he found a notable number of Bangladeshis developed their ‘own economy’ over time. In this version, currency, banks, and the fineprints attendant to financial landmarks are completely excluded.
“Brilliant…Incredible,” is how some members of the audience described Rabbany’s film.