Chobi Mela VI
Welcoming a New Generation
of Deshi Photographers
By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya
Photo: KM Asad & Sabhanaz Rashid Diya
There is a common understanding amidst the nonprofessional and sometimes professional photographers' circle that when one goes to Pathshala - possibly one of the finest photography learning centres in the world - one comes out black-and-white and high on high contrast. The photographs carry so much of the institution within them that they lose their personal voice and when randomly placed, one cannot distinguish who produced what.
However, walking into Pathshala during Chobi Mela VI this year, that impression seemed far into the past. There is a new energy unfolding and the works speak volumes about the photographer behind the scenes or their unique entities. Suddenly, everything that seemed so characteristic of this place, are dissolving to create a new breed of photo artists, who each have their own loud voices. They have gone beyond the more vividly acknowledged portrayal of photojournalists creating social documentations and have brought forth a sense of intimacy and personal connection with their respective stories.
An exemplary work from this lot would be Sayed Asif Mahmud's “My City of Unheard Prayers”. Mahmud is a second year student from Pathshala exhibiting at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy during Chobi Mela VI. His work is a series of images that represent his perspective on a metro life and over time, has developed into a personal account of his becoming in the chaos of an urban jungle. Although he has spent most of his life outside Dhaka, his work focuses on Dhaka and the journey he feels entangled in with his friends, thoughts and emotions.
On the other hand, Mohammad Anisul Hoque also a student from Pathshala tells a very different story. His work was selected for a digital exhibition at Goethe-Institut Auditorium during the festival, titled “High Life”. Hoque holds a degree in botany and enjoys taking family pictures. His work is a selection of photographs that reflects the comfortable urban lifestyle of an affluent family in Dhaka and he portrays the various shades of colour and glamour in that lifestyle.
Tushikur Rahman joined Pathshala during Chobi Mela V. In two years, he feels tremendously humbled and thrilled to have picked up so much from the institution. His work “Fatalistic Tendency” portrays an amalgamated state of mind engulfed with depression, suicidal tendencies and the death of dreams, and will also be digitally exhibited at Goethe-Institut Auditorium at Chobi Mela VI.
While more current and ex-students from Pathshala are exhibiting digitally and in print at Chobi Mela VI than previous Chobi Melas, what is most remarkable is how the students and the quality of work have evolved over time. Chobi Mela VI represents a tremendous journey - not only in terms of the festival, its exhibitions and the visiting artists, but also the students of the institution and the art of photography. As Dick Doughty, the Managing Editor of Saudi Aramco World Magazine and a visiting artist slash workshop tutor in Chobi Mela VI phrases it, “When I came in 2004, students' photographs were good. Now that I have returned, their photographs are excellent. I felt inspired on coming to Pathshala this year. The institution is shaping to be an important and remarkable center for photography, and instead of bringing ideas from elsewhere, it has begun producing its own unique ideas.”
They say no matter what emotion you might be feeling, someone somewhere has written a song about it. Honestly though, nearly all the songs we can hear today are about broken hearts or unkept promises. The rest of them are about the futile attempts at winning some pretty girl's heart. And then some songs are by Akon or Miley Cyrus, about whom any comment will be rendered completely useless. What is hard to find are those songs that can light up your mood anytime and just make you feel great. We know everyone has songs like that, but we have some more to add to your playlist.
Don't stop me now- Queen
This song manages to top our list by the sheer awesomeness of it. Top Gear voted this to be the greatest driving song of all time. Not only is it an awesome driving song, but this always manages to put a smile on your face no matter what.
Walking on Sunshine- Katrina and the Waves
Released in 1983, this is the song nearly all of us have heard once or twice in movies. An extremely fun song to listen to and makes you want to sing along every time. Very 80's and very fun.
Here comes the sun- The Beatles
Here comes the sun is from their album Abbey Road and written at a time when George Harrison was going through a very tough time. Numerous artists have covered this song, but the original's the best.
What a wonderful world- Louis Armstrong
The greatest thing about this song is everyone has heard it a million times, and it's on nearly everyone's feel good tune list, but it can still make you feel happy just for being alive. That's why, even after 40 years of its recording, it still is an incredibly amazing song. The Joe Ramone version is better than the original in this writer's humble opinion.
5 years time- Noah and the Whales
5 years time was released in 2008 by the British folk rock band Noah and the whales and it turned out to be a brilliant feel good song. You would start to wonder how you lived without ukulele music after you heard this one.
Les Champs Élysées- Joe Dassin
If you have seen the Wes Anderson movie 'The Darjeeling Limited', you probably know this song. For others, you don't need to know French to like this song, if you listen to it once, you'll get why it's here.
Don't Worry, Be Happy- Bobby McFerrin
This is a true ode to happiness and joy. Bobby McFerrin went from an unknown artist to a household name with this song. And even twenty three years after its release, this is the go-to song for a cheer up.
The Day I died- Just Jack
The day I died was the best day of my life. This is how this amazing song starts. And stays the same till the very end.
Nothing Wrong with you- Finn Brothers
This song can be called the ultimate feel good song. This is a song by the brilliant but underrated band called Finn Brothers and can lift your mood every time you listen to it.
So there you go, you have some tunes that can make you feel all warm in this freakishly cold weather.
By Le Chupacabra
The sleepy old village of Sotoba is as banal as it gets with its boring residents, relaxed way of life and indifferent attitude towards anything new or exciting. Megumi Shimizu has just about had it: Sotoba laughs at her eccentric sartorial sense and cheerily dismisses her dreams of big cities and modern living.
One day, a mysterious family of foreigners move into the old abandoned Kanemasa mansion at the top of the hill and Megumi sees this as an opportunity to breathe some new life into this stagnating community.
I'll be honest: I was pretty sure as to how I wanted to start this review but now I feel that I'll have to step a bit more carefully to avoid spoiling one of the tautest anime thrillers in a while.
So first off, Shiki is a horror series - one that does away with the suspense of mystery and yet remains wonderfully frustrating because you want to scream at the hapless (and not-so-hapless) characters. It's a refreshing take on an oft abused concept of late, bringing all elements back to genesis.
Okay, it's about vampires. Having lost their bite (yes, I went there) with the spate of novels expectorated by She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, it's nice to see them take on their old roost of terror, trauma and... erm, teeth.
A theme oft associated with these denizens of darkness is lust and it's given an interesting spin, delving into various interpretations - few, if any, have sexual connotations. So it's not only the vampires who are getting their thirst quenched here, then. In the same way I spoiled the surprise that this story is about vampires, the anime will do the same and rather quickly at that. There are no hints: only a tiny bit of foreshadowing and you're off jumping between an ensemble cast of characters and watching the fray unravel from both sides. The vampires' individual stories are strangely intoxicating, whereas the villagers' refusal to entertain the possibility of these creatures of the night living amongst them is masterfully disconcerting albeit logical.
While this anime juggles a rather large group of characters quite well, a few of them truly get to shine and their development matches the verve of the show. Performances are equally strong on either side of the debate (Blood or Water?) and are only possibly let down by some silly, silly character designs. I mean, one of the vampires is rather difficult to take seriously because of this although his actions eventually speak louder than his looks.
Shiki's reverently clever use of its source material mixed with tension pressure-cooked in a hermetically sealed container means that when you take off the lid, it explodes in your face in the best possible way. Oh yeah, and so do the last few episodes.