Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bongo-Mohilar Japan Jatra: Hariprobha Takeda

Bongo-Mohilar Japan Jatra (1912)

A documentary film on my aunt, Hariprobha Takeda, a remarkable woman who was far ahead of her times, made by a Bangladeshi filmmaker, Tanvir Mokammel (The River Named Modhumati, Lalon, Quiet Flows The River Chitra, Lalsalu, etc.) premieres in Dhaka next month. Here is a news item from The Daily Star.

From a nondescript woman in Dhaka to Tokyo, where she read news in Bangla on radio for Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's Azad Hind Fauj, travelling in the dead of night every day risking her life through bomb-ravaged streets of Tokyo during the Second World War.

That is the exceptional story of Hariprobha Basu Mallik, who married a Japanese entrepreneur Wemon Takeda, and travelled to Tokyo in 1912, and whose life has been recreated on the celluloid by eminent Bangladeshi director Tanvir Mokammel in his latest documentary, “Japani Bodhu” (The Japanese Wife) set to be premiered in Dhaka next month.

Born in 1890, Hariprobha would have remained a largely forgotten figure but for her “Bongo Mohilar Japan Jatra”, a memoir of her journey to Japan in 1912, considered the first book on that country by any woman from the subcontinent. The book was first published from Dhaka in 1915, Mokammel told The Daily Star.

Hariprobha fell in love with and married Japanese entrepreneur Wemon Takeda who had set up a soap factory in Dhaka and she was 22 when she travelled with her husband to Japan in 1912.

It was an opportunity for Hariprobha to not only meet her in-laws but also see the socio-cultural life of Japan. She not only visited Japan but also wrote a memoir, a kind of travelogue about the then Japan. Japan, as portrayed in Hariprobha's book, is a different country altogether 100 years back, Mokammel said.

“Bongo Mohilar Japan Jatra” was published four years before Rabindranath Tagore's “Japan Jatri”.
Hariprobha Takeda (seated left of Netaji)

To read the full report, visit A Bengali Iron Lady by Pallab Bhattacharya in The Daily Star. Do look out for screenings of the documentary where you are.
For the DVD of Tanvir Mokammel's Film please contact :
Mohammed Manik

Kino-Eye Films
Flat-5C1, House-15, Road-10
Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka-1205
E-mail :
Phone : +88-02-8127638


Bangladesh Film Centre
160, Lake Circus, Kalabagan
Mirpur Road, Dhaka-1205
E-mail :
Phone : +8801712086102


  1. I never knew this - so very interesting to learn about this lady and her history - the travelogue would be interesting to read- could you post some extracts, please. Thank you.


  2. where i can find the books
    i want them
    mail me the details at


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