Two souls in distress discover the only bridge left between them is an imaginary language and they can seal off their love only if they keep it exclusive.
Caught up in a financial scam, Monsur must leave the country. In order to get a job in Türkiye he needs to learn the Turkish language quickly. A long hunt brings him to a shady language center, where an equally weird instructor, named Bashar, follows an unconventional style of teaching. On the first day in class, Monsur discovers Suraiya to be his only other classmate. For the first few days Suraiya remains aloof but as they begin conversing in their newly learned vocabulary, they begin to get closer. Suraiya is desperate to get into Türkiye, following the trail of her lover, who left without a word on a mission to sneak into northern Syria. As they enter the maze of complex grammar and vocabulary of the language, Monsur begins to develop an obsessive attraction to Suraiya, assuming it is mutely reciprocated. Mid-way through the course, their teacher disappears without a trace and, even worse, Monsur and Suraiya discover that the language they have already half-learned is not Turkish at all. It is a language invented by their lunatic instructor. Monsur misses the job offer in Türkiye. Suraiya finally manages to get a visa. The only thing that remains exclusive to them is the language, a mode of communication that bridges them secretly. Suraiya convinces Monsur of the exclusivity of the language they have learnt and their responsibility to make it a proper one. Suraiya leaves the country, promising to meet Monsur by the Aegean Sea.
The unusual way the original story deals with love and language intrigued me. These are the themes I always wanted to explore in my films. To me, the invented language that the plot revolves around mirrors a city - a city that stands as a port of transit for both the protagonists. I intend to deal with migration as a guiding theme - migration as a physical and psychological condition which strips away meaning not only from language, but from every established system of reference.
A language without meaning, a city without permanence, and a love affair that holds uncertainty at its core - this is my film in a nutshell.
Suraiya deals with the dreams, crises, struggles and yearnings of contemporary Bangladeshi characters, where the socio-political reality encapsulates the lives of individuals. The film addresses the issues of finding new belonging in life, through the veneer of despair, corruption, hope, forced and voluntary migration. I am passionate about marking such issues through cinematic translations.
Robiul Alam Robi is among the few filmmakers I have worked with who can illustrate the struggles and hopes of individuals, with the lives of the everyday characters given a poetic depiction through their dreams which exceed their usual realities.
Suraiya is intended to link a wide-range of audiences, on a local and global-scale, interested in this complex, contemporary account of human beings from a developing country.
Robiul Alam Robi’s directorial and writing credits span a period of over ten years, with various fictional shorts, series, and a feature film which have screened on various platforms and at film festivals.
His directorial credits include the short films Eki Pothe (2017) and Aquarium (2017); Maghfirat, which featured in the anthology film Sincerely Yours, Dhaka (Nuhash Humayun, Syed Ahmed Shawki, Rahat Rahman, Robiul Alam Robi, Golam Kibria Farooki, Mir Mukarram Hossain, Tanvir Ahsan, Mahmudul Islam, Abdullah Al Noor, Krishnendu Chattopadhyay, Syed Saleh Ahmed Sobhan, 2018), and premiered at Busan International Film Festival 2018; and feature film Café Desire (2022). His films depict the unique human condition through formal cinematic expression. Apart from filmmaking, Robi teaches screenplay writing and direction at the Bangladesh Cinema and Television Institute.
A producer-director-curator in his early thirties, Fazle Hasan Shishir started his career as a cinematographer and editor. He is keen on cinematic projects which transcend the boundaries of real and unreal, and thrives on experimentation with new cinematic languages. Hailing from a Dhaka-based production company and creative hub, called Ratherhood Initiatives, he nurtures a group of young Bangladeshi filmmakers to foster a new Bangladeshi Cinema.
His credits as producer include films such as Mukuler Jadur Ghora (Debashis Das, 2021) and Café Desire (Robiul Alam Robi, 2022). Upcoming Jhiripoth Periye (2023) is his short film work-in-progress.
Suraiya and Tulshimala are his feature-length fiction projects, and An Imaginary Interview is his feature-length documentary project as producer, currently in-development.