Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 4, Tuesday January 30, 2007


madhouse known as charukola

Lawyers legally lie, journalists accidentally lie and politicians do not know anything else but to lie. Thus, stereotypes are built often on slivers of truth. So what would you say about the denizens of Charukala, the centre of excellence for the artistically inclined? They are crazy, sometimes cut their own ears, sit under trees all day painting and become famous after death. Well, all this was true for Van Gogh but for the current generation of artists, the stereotypical image cannot be further from the truth.

It is true that an artist's life is a difficult one. But that age old notion of sitting under a tree painting till you die is just that. The current generations of artists understand that money does not only talk, it screams. Thus they branch out in every possible angle. Students of our famed graphics institute often use their talents to answer the demands that are rapidly growing in every sector of business.

Creative juice
Artists ooze with creativity and that is one commodity that is in huge demand. Students of Charukola generally look for extra cash in the form of side jobs that often lead to a career. Advertising agencies are constantly on the prowl for qualified graphics designers who can churn out layouts from a bizarre perspective. Unfortunately the clients of ad agencies are usually too boring to be creative.

Animation and comics book creation is a big industry worldwide. Scores of studios outsource their work to Bangladesh knowing that talent, although limited, is available cheaply. Take for example Sabya Sachi Mistry who for a long time had a wild affinity for comics and animation. His immense talent is now being thoroughly used in the field of comics including such projects as the popular Meena.

Inside stuff
Many shift to interior designing because the old days of painting a room pink and plunking down a few pieces of furniture are gone. People want their homes to look like the set design of all the fashionable Hindi soap operas. Speaking of sets, building stages, sets and backdrops for TV programs and different events can rake in a sizeable chunk of cash. Take for example the stalls or pavilions that are set up at the Dhaka International Trade Fair. Many of these are designed and setup by free lancers who charge quite a hefty amount for such projects.

Open plan classes
What's most interesting is the way classes are held. If someone is bored and feels drowsy then that person can go to sleep right on the spot without facing serious rebuke. Imagine doing that in a BBA class. Of course, the classrooms themselves are often anywhere but a classroom. It could easily be out on the streets or even someplace far out of the city. A typical class could be a week spent in Sadarghaat watching people go about their business and simply painting. The classes take the students on a multitude of field trips all over the place.

Party through the night
Even their dorms present a surreal sight. There is activity going on round the clock. Somewhere someone is working at something be it a class project or a side job.

Over the years, art students have somehow managed to accumulate an unflattering image of being unkempt, amoral, unsocial, and sloppy dressers. At least that's how they're portrayed in most television dramas, and somehow the labels got stuck. And while it would be too much to say that you won't find the odd character that falls in this category, every tree has its bad apples, and you can't judge the whole bunch on the basis of one rotten fruit. In other words, while it's not unlikely that you will encounter a disheveled, drug-abusing, alcohol guzzling, antisocial individual who lacks societal values and leads an objectionable lifestyle, she/he is not representative of art students as a whole.

Stereotypical images of artists are bust in this current generation. Some are fastidious about their appearance while others change their clothes once a week. Some worry about weight, others worry about relationships (and weight). A typical student's arsenal contains all the paint supplies and an MP3 player. They are like everyone else but just like to see and portray things differently. It is just a matter of tastes that appeals or repels.

Anyone who tries to think differently can be seen as crazy. Elvis, The Beatles, James Watt, Thomas Edison and their ilk were crazy to think differently because without them life would be quite boring.

So parents, if your son or daughter announces that she/he wants to pursue a career in art and study at the Charukola Institute, don't throw a fit and change your will; it is a demanding path to take, but not an unsound one, and if your child has what it takes to make it in this field, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Who knows, you may have a Rembrandt in your family just waiting to be discovered!

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny and Sabrina F Ahmad
Photo: Amirul Rajiv


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