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



Digital documentation of Kantajee Temple
This year UNESCO published a book on Kantajee temple, which is an outstanding example of Bengal Hindu art and architecture in our country. The book documents and illustrates the importance of this monument.

“The purpose was to tell the full story of the temple, provide a detailed account of the iconography of the 15 000 terracotta, and also place the history of the temple in the political context of its time, early 18 century”, says Wolfgang Vollman country representative of UNESCO.

The book or rather a digital archive is titled 'Kantajee Temple An Outstanding Monument of Late Medieval Bengal'. Published in June, the book awe inspired many minds. What makes this book a marvellous piece is the photographs and the credit goes to photographer Muntasir Rahman Gora and his team.

The beginning was absolutely personal interest. He chose Kantajee temple because “It is a site which is not very old, which is not a dead structure and still deeply rooted with people's culture”. The appealing work of art on the temple amazed the photographer.

Eventually all his photographs grew in to a huge collection. He even held an exhibition at the Alliance Francaise. And then UNESCO became interested to publish a book. “The main idea was to build a digital archive of the monuments of Bangladesh”, says Muntasir Rahman Gora. “It was very difficult to imagine a project like this in the context of Bangladesh in the beginning”, he adds.

Each of the 15, 000 terracotta plaques of the temple describes different story of that time.

In total 250,000 pictures have been taken to cover these terracotta plaques. On an average, 10 pictures of each terracotta is now in his collection. Only a handful photos were used for this digital document on the temple. Gora and his friends spent three years to finish the collection. Details of every nooks and corners, even the earrings are depicted with care.

Besides the outstanding quality of the photographs, the book is of high academic value and content. The historian and archaeologist Dr M M Haque and Seema Haque, both teachers of Jahangirnagar University set down to write an academically sound text. It took them two years to finish the work. Wonderful graphics work by Rezaur Rahman and his team of designers from Drik simply elevated the book to a different level. The book however is not for sale. It is available in the all the major library in the city. The book brought the glory of the temple to the limelight.

A laudable venture
On last Thursday night, the nation was glued to the television screens to the grand finale of the immensely popular talent-hunt show Close-up 1 as Nolok Babu, an extraordinary folk singer who is also adept at singing any other genres, who won the hearts and minds of the countrymen and was crowned as the Close-up 1. Never before has any TV show gained such popularity nationwide or capture the hearts of the people, in Bangladesh and in abroad. Although this was not an original concept – talent hunts searching for gifted singers such as the American Idol and Indian Idol are not uncommon -- but Close-up 1 was loved by everyone… everyone from rickshaw-pullers to CEOs, from street-urchins to students in New York… of the country. And they had every reason to do so.

In the seven months it was aired, Close-up 1 went through over forty thousand contestants for finding the one singer who would represent the culturally rich and vibrant Bangla music. It was quite a hard task.

Close-up 1 gave the country 11 extremely talented artists who the country now knows by one name. Along with the two finalists Razib and Beauty, these exceptionally talented singers will surely lead the Bangla music scene.

As Kumar Bishwajit, one of the judges of the contest said, “What Close-up 1 actually did, apart from finding these great talents from pure obscurity, is that it showed the new generation exactly why our songs and music are so cherished.” And that’s something truly remarkable. Musically, ours is one of the richest cultures in the world. Now this generation knows why.

Annoyingly Infectious
It stormed into Bangladesh and blazed a trail through the local youth. No other promotional campaign could capture the hearts and minds of the Deshi adolescents the way the 'Djuice Duniya' did.

With their infectious Banglish slogans and catch-phrases, concerts and fairs, they definitely left an impact. Even the non-subscribers, those few who managed to withstand the temptation of the attractive rates and the “Xtra Khatir” afforded by the Xtra cards, couldn't help being caught up in the fever, and words like “Kothin Pochano”, “Ajaira Pechal” could be heard on everyone's lips.

Djuice succeeded where other youth-based marketing campaigns lucked out because it promoted more than a cell-phone connection package. Djuice is more than just a connection with great discounts and special features; it is a lifestyle, not that we all like it.

The typical Djuice teen/tween speaks a combination of English and Bangla, wears jeans and fatuas, gobbles down fast food, frequents rock concerts, and of course, has a load of friends with whom s/he is constantly in touch through SMS and phone calls. This is an image most young people here can identify with, and viola! We have a market.

Of course, there are criticisms. There are plenty that don't advocate this lifestyle promoted by the campaign. The pet peeve was with the slogans. There are teens who insist that the terms being used by the campaign aren't representative of their own vernacular.

Many, but not all teens engage in 'Ajaira Pechal', and those that don't are extremely vocal about how the Djuice image is NOT representative of the youth. Then there are the culturally concerned adults who complain of the corruption of the Bangla language…which might be the reason behind the controversy regarding the billboards. Then there are some who complain that it's all icing and no cake. Just as there were plenty who were wowed by the Djuice events, there were an equal number of disgruntled people who said they were a waste of time.

Mohammed Ashraful our sweet heart
Long regarded as perhaps the most talented Bangladeshi batsman in the team, Ashraful has more often than not disappointed his peers and fans alike with poor showings. Although his talent is undeniable many doubted his temperament and other attributes. However this year he finally put to rest his many detractors with performances that proved him to be the match-winner that he really is.

His hundred against Australia lifted Bangladesh to its greatest victory of all time but what many remember more was the way he took the England bowlers to the cleaners not two days later. The audacity with which he played his strokes; one a breathtaking hook for six off big man Andrew Flintoff; showed glimpses of what the precociously talented man had the makings of.

Ashraful's play has about it a certain panache and flair that brings even his most hated critic to the field to watch him play. He has not yet come even close to realizing half the potential that he possesses and with proper nurturing who is to say that he cannot become the Bangladeshi Tendulkar?

Ashraful is all of twenty one years old but his efforts in putting the Bangladesh cricket team on the map and putting to rest the many vocal critics of our team mean that he is deserving of the Lifestyle award for outstanding achievement in sport.

By Shahnaz Parveen, Sabrina F Ahmad, Quazi Zulquarnain Islam, Ahmed Ashiful Hoque
Photo: Sk. Enamul Huq, Zahedul .I. Khan
Photo Courtesy: Nayantara Communications
Amitav Reza


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