Under the Banyan Tree
Sabhanaz Rashid Diya
Students performing at the 12th Anniversary of Pathshala. Photo Credit: K M Asad
It all began with a thought. There needs to be a school where media is taught and untaught, ideas are challenged and reformed, bars are raised and prejudices dropped. In 1998, the Pathshala South Asian Media Academy came into existence with exactly this vision. Twelve years since its inception, it now stands as an independent media academy and the coolest school in South Asia.
What began as a photography school soon underwent a logical development, establishing itself as a full-fledged institution comprising of the Department of Photography and the Department of Broadcast and Multimedia Journalism. In time, it began to produce not only brilliant artists and individuals, but the likes of work that redefined the way photographs are shot, felt and read in the modern world.
On May 13, Pathshala celebrated its 12th anniversary, an occasion marked with colors, reminisces, festivals and promises. “It is a very significant day for me as I was a student of the first batch and now the vice principal,” said Abir Abdullah, the award winning photographer who served on the prestigious World Press jury panel this year. A commemorative book produced by the students, was launched in the presence of His Excellency Giorgio Guglielmino, Italian Ambassador, Professor Nazrul Islam, former Chairman, University Grants Commission and many other distinguished invitees. This was followed by a cultural programme by Prachyanat.
May 14 kick started with a portfolio review session. Esteemed photographers Abir Abdullah, Munem Wasif, Shehab Uddin and Paul David Barikdar set out to review the works of promising artists outside the spheres of Pathshala, and hoped it would inspire young talents to step up in the field of photography. The evening was marked with students' performances at Chayanat and moments of reminisces, anecdotes, laughter and joy.
The fact that Pathshala has made a strong impression on the lives of many people is undeniable. Anyone who has stepped inside its premises has been left transformed, and remained an integral part of the institution. A short excerpt from “Reflections on the Academy' by Saiful Huq Omi, acclaimed documentary photographer and Pathshala graduate, reads:
“I never knew just spending a year in Pathshala would change my entire perspective about life and the meaning of it. A new world started to unfold with the beginning of the classes. Successful photographers were often visiting the academy. I knew I had found a new language which powerful and captivating.”
Omi's feelings are echoed by every other individual who has experienced Pathshala, and continues to challenge life with its many dimensions. Photography over time has developed as a powerful and potent universal language. Pathshala not only celebrates many international awards, acclaimed artists and brilliant bodies of work but most importantly celebrates the evolution of photography in Bangladesh.
(Also reported by Maleeha Mazen)