Mystery Captured Through Lenses
Promiti Prova Chowdhury
courtesy: Ananta Yusuf
The Department of Media Studies and Journalism (MSJ) of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) in collaboration with Goethe Institute Dhaka, presented a visual art exhibition entitled “Halda: River of Mystery” on July 20. Around 32 photographs and a 15-minute video were featured at the exhibition, all depicting the lifestyle, culture, and tradition revolving around the Halda River in Chittagong.
This exhibition was an outcome of the tremendous efforts of 11 selected students who belonged to the ULAB Photography and Film Apprenticeship programme. The special guest at the event was Monjurul Kibria, Associate Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Chittagong. At the inauguration he said Halda River is like a mysterious woman, with a lot of dimensions unexplored. He also mentioned that the river is under threat due to pollution, natural calamities, etc. He hoped that through this initiative people will get to know the actual scenery and concerned authority will take move.
Halda has been the only source of livelihood for ages to the people living on its shore. The students had captured how the people use indigenous techniques to hatch eggs of the carps. They have also portrayed the cultural value of Halda, for example, the traditional shampan boats. Each portrait had some quotes of famous personalities that best described it. Salahuddin Muhammad, coordinator of Film Apprenticeship and director of the video said that through the video they depicted the story of Halda River, what is it, how people's life encircle it, its flora and fauna, the community and it's problems, and the underwater life as well.
While sharing his experience, another coordinator Ananta Yusuf said that this whole programme was educative as well as extremely adventurous. Having spent time with the locals they got to know that every year during the month of February, March and April different species of brood fish like Ruhi, Katla, Mrigel, Kalibaush come to the river from different channels to release eggs. The fisher folks stay prepared to hatch the eggs at that time otherwise the eggs might be washed away in the tide. Taking the pictures at that time was really a challenge.
He also talked about the miseries of the fishermen. He said that instead of teaching them scientific fishing techniques, the Government has banned fishing in Halda because of the increasing rate of annihilating mother fishes. The unplanned sluice gates have also hampered the natural flow of Halda, impact the community's life.
Dr Jude William Genilo, Head of MSJ, ULAB stated that learning photography and videography inside classroom is not enough. Photography is not isolated from the world and human eye can see many imperfections which lenses may not. Keeping all these in mind ULAB took the project and chose Halda as their subject as it is a vital part of Bangladesh's ecosystem.
Ananta Yusuf, Ananta Gourab, Md Rezwanul Islam, Tasnima Akhter, Nawsher Ali Khan, Md Mahidul Islam, Sk Shafiqul Islam, Md Adnan Rahman, Md Naim Khan, Khaled Hossain Ayon and Salahuddin Muhammad were the lucky learners. The faculty advisers of this programme were Razibul Hossain and Marium Akther, senior lecturer of MSJ-ULAB.
Overall, the exhibit showcased the mystery related to Halda River, to its nature, and to its people. There was no direct message given in any of the items. It is up to the viewer who will perceive the mystery in his or her own way. The exhibition will continue till August 4, 2011 at the Goethe Institute Dhaka, and it's worth a visit.