Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 21, Tuesday December 27, 2005


rearview reflections

Another year passes by. Another year of ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, ads, fads, and so much more. This week, Lifestyle looks back at the movers and shakers of the past year. We've picked out the people highlighted here, not necessarily because they were the 'best' or 'most stylish' or anything like that, but because we feel that they have created an impact in their respective fields, and deserve mention, positive or no. So hop aboard our roller-coaster and join us on a rocking reverie.

Much Ado about the SAARC Summit
For some, it was an additional three days of reprieve following the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays. For many, it meant unnecessary hassles, as several main roads were blocked, and the constant ID checks were nothing if not annoying. For some of the very young, it meant three days of bright lights, loud music, and a party atmosphere; as one slappably cheeky little brat announced into a news camera “I wish we'd have a Saarc Summit every day!” Yes, the three-day Saarc Summit definitely stirred up a lot of controversy.

The biggest debate was over the mega-expensive makeover that certain parts of the city got. From the road dividers that got decked with everything from palm trees to an artificial mountain spring, to the bright lights adorning the local landmarks, to the thousands of fresh flowers imported daily, the Saarc beautification was one lavish affair. Whether you approved of the changes or not, you have to admit, Dhaka was literally sparkling from the attention. Yet a scant two months after the big event (which felt like an anticlimax for us mere citizens who played no part in it), the pretty decorations are going to seed, and no one seems bothered. Take a ride under the Mohakhali flyover, or the Airport road and you'll know what we mean. Was it really worth all that expenditure if it has to fall to ruins again? What were we trying to prove?

One laudable thing was the security, though. Sure, it inconvenienced a lot of people. The cordoning off of the roads, the car checks, and even the rather laughable request for cars to switch off their headlights during this one episode where the Saarc guests were passing through a road; so that they would not realise that they were holding up a lot of traffic. However, the fact remains that in spite of the pesky militant problem we're facing right now, we managed to host a summit and entertain our foreign guests without any untoward incident happening, and the security forces really receive commendation for that.

Whatever the outcome of the much-talked about Saarc summit, it's definitely been one of the glittery highlights of the year.

Amra Bangladesh
Teens are extremely fickle when it comes to fads. What's in today may very well be out tomorrow, and they might at any moment decide that denim cut-offs are the new baggy, whatever that means. Just so, this year has seen many fads come and go. Some where quickly forgotten, and the others left an indelible mark.

The green and red Amra Bangladesh bands were one fad that no one's going to forget anytime soon. Inspired by the Livestrong band, the fundraising campaign for cancer, these bands helped raise money for acid burn victims, flood victims, and other causes.

It so happened that the Amra Bangladesh campaign was more than just about buying a cute wristband to help the less fortunate. The clever use of the red and green, our flag colours, made it about a national identity, one we could wear proudly. Heavily promoted by sports icons and rockstars, the trend spread like wildfire, and owning an Amra Bangladesh band became a matter of pride and prestige. It united wearers like nothing else could, and many a chance conversation began with “Oh, you got one [band] too?”

The arrival of coloured fake Livestrong bands and even fake Amra Bangladesh bands (we spotted a roadside vendor near New Market, selling the cheap knock-offs for Tk 50, whereas the authentic bands cost somewhere around Tk 150) brought the trend fever to an ebb. You don't see as many people sporting their colours as you used to at the height of the fad. Nevertheless, this has been a shining example of how people could be brought together for a worthy cause, and we at Lifestyle recognise it as one of the finer moments of the past year.

Products with panache
This year the fashion enthusiasts saw two very trendy new products. One of them is the Gamchha sari and the other one is Thami sari. Here is a little detail about the new creation.

Gamchha sari
Gamchha has never been the centre of much attention amongst the average Bangali people, yet this piece of cloth finally managed to create great fashion statement for many this year especially the Gamchha sari.

The flamboyant and fabulous Gamchha sari is our pick this year. Bibi Russel was the first person to experiment with the gamchha sari. She rocked the fashion scene all the way in Europe with her bold gamchha line up.

However, the credit for introducing Gamchha sari as the hot new item to average Bengalis goes to Prabartana. They are associated with the handloom industry since the beginning. They have their own taat. From this year they've started making Gamchha sari. They've used the leftover yarns of their taat and produced the wonder. At Prabartana their racks are adorned with vibrant Gamchh saris priced at Tk.375. They have followed the traditional patterns of the Gamchha tatis in different areas.

Our Hero
The right to proper food constitutes a basic human right. Actually it represents something much more vital it symbolizes a basic human need. Therefore not being able to entertain this basic human need amounts to a heinous violation. For the people of Dhaka, especially for the ones who make the food, such heinous violation had become the norm rather than the exception. Enter the much vaunted mobile courts.

Dhaka watched in horror as the mobile court team sent out to stop food adulteration and contamination in eateries and processed-food factories around town revealed their findings. The success owes no small measure of gratitude to the men who have led it.

M Rokonuddoulah, magistrate of the CMM Court and Magistrate ABM Abdul Fattah have led the mobile courts with an iron hand and exposed the nefarious schemes of even the most respected eateries in the city.

The mobile teams included an official from the Bangladesh Standards Testing Institute, a department of public health official, a DCC official as well as members of the police and BDR and was led by the two magistrates.

For their devoted work to stop the contamination of all food and drink items and bring the offenders to justice and hence work towards the ultimate benefit of the citizens of this city Star Lifestyle nominates them as their people of the year for outstanding achievement in quality control of food…

The Ad Dad
“…amar desher shonar cholera ache nah?” These lines have become a part of advertisement folklore over the course of the past year or so. Oft repeated both in zest and through force of habit what is undeniable is the fact that the Lab-Aid ad affected all who saw it. The protagonist of that eye-catching composition is none other than Amitav Reza.

An Economics graduate from Pune, Amitav Reza has set the Dhaka advertisement scene alight with a number of dazzling efforts. Aside the aforementioned Lab-Aid advertisement, another very popular effort of Amitav's was the Grameen “ Ore Nil Doria” which had some outstanding picture quality coupled with creative camera work. Also, Amitav pioneered the Djuice adverts and a number some City-Cell ones.

The key feature that sets Amitav Reza apart from his peers is that he shoots with a 35mm video camera. Although the miscellaneous cost entailed is much higher, the end result is a far more visually pleasing experience. He has also encouraged the use of animation in his advertisements, which is a trait not very common in Bangladeshi advertisements.

Amitav Reza is but thirty years old and the perfectionist has the better part of his life ahead of him. The Bangladeshi people eagerly await his next project and from previous evidence Amitav will not disappoint.

For his efforts in lifting the Bangladeshi advertisement sector from its doldrums we believe that Amitav Reza is worthy of the Lifestyle awards.

Hanging with the muppets
Meet the Muppets, Halum the friendly vegetarian tiger, Shiku the clever golden jackal, and two inquisitive little girls Tuktuki and Ikri-Mikri. They live in Sisimpur, the fairyland of the Muppets that was discovered by the children of Bangladesh this April.

Man and puppet were coined together to make the word Muppet. The Muppets first conquered the children's heart 35 years ago in USA. The Sesame street was their home. Many countries giving each production a local flavour adapted the show, and Sisimpur, named after a fictitious countryside place in Bangladesh, is our version. The show talks about love and harmony, teaches children how to respect everything around them, the joy of sharing and of course everyday matters like brushing teeth, combing their hair and many other things the children are usually reluctant to do. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, it was created with the same commitment to provide fun and learning for preschool children.

The Muppets of Sisimpur are not just all cuddly and bubbly; they share a caring environment with humans and other creatures to help children learn about scores of wonderful stuff. They're the same engaging and lovable characters in spirit and appearance as the Muppets that many American kids grew up with, but with a local twist that highlight our tradition.

We've selected Sisimpur as the most impressive production of the year 2005. Nayantara Communications, a sister concern of Asiatic Marketing Communication Limited is the producer of Bangladesh segment. They have different sections for every function. Sara Zaker is the Project Head of the show. Fuad Chowdhury is the executive producer, four directors, a team of script writers, musicians headed by Farhan Samad, Sabina Bari Lucky the studio producer, a group of Muppeteers, Haider Ali in live action shooting, a research team for curriculum, and the team of animation experts work closely to create the show. For animation they've created a new set up named Talent Factory. Sarker Helal Uddin is the head of animation. Famous artist Mustafa Monwar provides all the creative ideas. The Sesame workshop in New York reviews all the segment of the show.

We've met the production team very recently. Almost the entire line up comprising a bunch of young energetic people was there. It was an hour of behind the scene fun stories.

In the beginning there was this discord about the last part of the name. Should it be Sisimganj or Pur, they wondered. Later on they took a vote and Sisimpur won the majority. At first they decided to call Halum the friendly tiger as Baagh mama, then changed it to Halum. We think the name suits the fellow perfectly. They've made Halum a vegetarian tiger to get rid of the carnivorous image.

“The programme is aimed at helping young children to learn fundamental literacy, all about numbers the easy way and critical thinking skills. The show portrays everyday life through humour, music, and fantasy”, says Fuad Chowdhury, the executive producer of the show.

“The content has been researched and designed by local educators and experts to appeal to preschool children in a culturally appropriate manner and address both academic and social issues relevant to Bangladesh” Chowdhury adds.

“It is a fun show for children all around the nation. And here we have learned a lot about Muppets. I think it is a huge achievement as well as success”, says Sara Zaker in the end.

More on page 4



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