A group of volunteer researchers are collecting information on famous personalities of Bangladesh. These are collected on the computer at the bilingual website www.gunijan.org. To illustrate the work is the exhibition of portraits of some of the personalities, to be seen at Drik Gallery.
In one of the pictures we see Jewel Aich taking a walk in a park with its cluster of leafy trees. We see him along with nature as we normally have not seen him before. Hamida Hossain is seen with her cat in her garden, as she is going about her interest in touching up the garden. This is also a close, personal focus. Suhashini Das, who has been managing orphans for decades is seen relaxing and reading a book at leisure in a dark room. Angela Gomes is seen outside her office at Jessore. Mustafa Monwar is seen watching clouds, standing on his terrace. Murtaja Baseer is seen looking through his staircase and this is an unusual angle. Rabeya Khatoon, a writer, is seen relaxing near a window in her house, with a book in hand.
Professor Anisuzzaman is seen contemplating on what to write next. Ferdousi Priyobhashini is seen among her driftwood creation.
Asked to comment on the exhibition on the whole, taking into consideration the new web site, Murtaja Baseer said, "People don't usually bother all that much about the gunijan (revered personalities). This is an adventurous step that makes us aware of so many personalities. This brings together facts about our famous people and I think this way of paying homage is remarkable.”
Dr Shahidul Alam of Drik Gallery said, "I'm reminded of Norwegian photographer Martin Krogvold who commented on what a civilised nation meant and he talked about how in the past culture was gauged on the basis of people's strength or their wealth. Today when civilisation is gauged on how people valued their gunijan this makes one happy.
Din Mohammed Shibly, the young photographer who had captured the gunijans through the lens said," I wanted to bring the best products of our soil, whether they be scientists or litterateurs or social or political personalities. This was so that the new generation would learn of their contributions. Their lives, their work and their portraits will all be in the web site www.gunijan.org. This would inspire the average individual to struggle ahead in their own lines."
When asked about details of the photographs, Shibly said that at first he took pictures of 100 personalities from which he selected 25 for the exhibition. They had no priority basis but were selected randomly. Some were out of the country, some ailing and old, but they were generally enthusiastic and gave their time. He tried to avoid the beaten track and he tried to include the portraits in wide angles. It's like seeing a portrait on a big canvas. Shibly tried to make them as artistic as possible.
Shibly studied Mass Communication from Rajshahi. Meanwhile he was fascinated by photojournalism for a long time and studied at Pathshala. He began work in Prothom Alo in 1994. He then worked in Ice Today, Charbela Char Din, Kali Kolom and Jamini. With the gunijan project he is working as a freelancer. His favourite photographers are Sebastio Salgado, Raghu Rai and Dr Shahidul Alam.
Srimati Suhashini Das leisurely reading a book (Right), noted chess player Rani Hamid in a pensive mood