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     Volume 7 Issue 3 | January 18, 2008 |

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End of an Era
It was the end of another era in Bangla drama literature, according to Rahmat Ali, the associate professor of Theatre and Music Department at Dhaka University, as iconic playwright Selim Al Deen breathed his last at around 2:00 pm on January 14, at the Labaid Cardiac Hospital in the capital.

Selim Al Deen

Following a cardiac arrest last Friday, 58-year-old Selim Al Deen was admitted to the Hospital. He was on artificial life support. Plans had also been made to fly him off to Bangkok for better treatment, when the medical authorities declared him dead.
Selim Al Deen, third of seven children, was born in Shenerkhil village of Shonagazi upazila of Feni on 18 August 1949. Because of his father's frequent transfers in government service, the family was always on the move. Selim along with his siblings grew up all over the country. From a very young age, he loved to read and discuss the various literary works. In 1966, Selim took admission at the Dhaka University, where eventually he got involved with drama.
His professor at DU, the famous playwright Munier Chowdhury encouraged him to focus on theatre and Bangla literature. Al Deen received his master's degree from the Bangla Department of Dhaka University. In 1995 he earned his PhD from Jahangirnagar University on 'Medieval Bengali Drama'.
In 1968, Selim wrote his first drama while still in university. Most of his plays in the earlier years reflected the close study of the European culture that he used to study. Later on, Selim's works began to focus on the rural farmers and the poor and marginalised.
Selim Al Deen's work redefined modern Bangla literature and drama in Bangladesh. In the late 70s, Selim Al Deen's study of the Jatra led him to write Kittonkhola, which marked the beginning of his success. His other works include Bashon, Atotai, Badiuzzaman, Keramat Mangal, Hat Hodai, Chaka, and Bono Pangshul, just to mention a few. Selim also popularised the folklore tradition of Kathya-natya in his plays like Joiboti Koinnar Mon. He has been known for his unusual scripts that take from the most ancient folklore and literature.
One of the founding members of Dhaka Theatre, Selim Al Deen is a pioneer in the field of experimental theatre and drama in Bangladesh, enhancing the progressive drama movement since the 1980s. He has also been one of the key organisers of Bangladesh's village theatre movement. Selim helped to build the Department of Drama and Dramatics at Jahangirnagar University where he was a professor, researcher and an organiser for the last 30 years.
Selim Al-Deen's work is studied at many universities across the world. Several of his plays have also been translated into other languages. They have been staged outside Bangladesh as well. He also achieved mass popularity when his plays were broadcast on television. Some of his TV serials like Granthikgan Kahey, Chhaya Shikari and others became extremely popular with the TV audience. One of his very recent television successes was the play Ronger Manush, which he co-wrote with Masum Reza. Set in rural Bangladesh, this 111-episode TV play was produced and broadcast by NTV.
The legendary playwright was honoured with several prestigious awards both nationally and internationally, including the Bangla Academy Literature Award, National Film Award, Ekushey Padak and Olokto Shahitya Puroshkar.
As news of his death spread, the hospital where he died was thronged by grief-stricken friends, co members of his theatre group, fans and relatives. While his family and friends may mourn the loss of a loved one, his death will leave an enormous void in the world of theatre and literature.

Sheesha Showdown

If you're one of those who have caught on to the new Dhakaite leisure pursuit of smoking sheesha in one of the many lounges, you might want to think twice before going for your next visit. The Drug Administration raided two restaurants (Decagon Thai Chinese Restaurant and B1 51 Leisure Lounge) in Dhanmondi Sunday night and recovered what they called five kilograms of illegal drugs used in the sheesha. According to the drug officials these drugs have been imported from countries in the Middle East and is a new kind of drug introduced in the country. There is still not enough information available on the drug. Sheesha is a single or multi-stemmed (often glass-based) water pipe device for smoking; originating in India, it has gained popularity, especially in the Arab World. A hookah operates by water filtration and indirect heat. It can be used for smoking herbal fruits. Sheesha has gained wide popularity among Dhaka's youth in the last couple of years.

The Plight of a Child
A nine-year-old girl child, a victim of rape, is kept in prison, even though law does not allow keeping a nine-year-old in prison, it has been violated, we presume, not for the first time. The girl has gone through immense shock and trauma, and it is a shame on our legal system, which has confined her in prison in the name of safe custody. Not only that, her mother's plea to take her home has been refused by the court. What is not understandable is why this little girl will suffer in confinement with 32 women inmates. The girl's father, as a Prothom Alo report says, is disabled and her mother is the only bread earner in the family. There is no doubt that there are more children like her languishing in prison, the number of whom remains unknown.
We, even 36 years after getting independence, have not been able to build a childr friendly society. To begin with we want to see the child freed immediately, the government needs to make sure that such an incident does not repeat itself. We also want to live in a society where the rapists are imprisoned, not the victims.

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