ToonBangla: Success in Motion

Naimul Karim

What started off as an experiment, went on to become the leading company in the animation industry of Bangladesh, a fact that brings to light Zahin Hasan's talent beyond just being another Economics graduate. He is also the Managing Director of ToonBangla. The only Bangladeshi animation company to have won international awards was inspired by Kamal Quadir, founder of Globe Kids, another animation company. “Although I studied Economics in school, I always loved reading comic books and watching cartoons,” says Hasan. While anybody else would have dismissed their affinity towards cartoons as a childhood fervour, Hasan followed his passion and went on to create a company that currently spearheads the animation industry in Bangladesh.

ToonBangla's first venture, Murgi Keno Mutant, which managed to entertain thousands of people in the United States, went on to win awards in festivals organised in Arkansas and Texas in America. The tale of the 'killer mutant ninjas' terrorising Bangladesh and the kung-fu chef's attempt to neutralise the threat received critical acclaim abroad. More importantly, it provided recognition to ToonBangla and the entire Bangladeshi animation industry. “Winning these awards was a necessary step to establish our presence in the animation business,” says Hasan.

Hasan, who spends most of his time managing Kazi Farms Limited, the company that funds ToonBangla, believes that with due time, American animation companies can outsource their work to Bangladeshi animators. “Right now we can do 2D animation, meaning animation drawn on a flat surface. But we are training our artists in 3D animation as well. This will allow us to offer a much wider range of services,” he says. However receiving animation projects from abroad isn't as easy as it may sound. “You have to build up a reputation in the animation business by producing high-quality short films and submitting them to international festivals. We have made a good start with Murgi Keno Mutant,” says Hasan.

As of now, ToonBangla is trying to enter the television business and plans to make several short films every year. “We are working towards mastering newer animation processes which will make our work more convenient,” says Hasan.

By choosing a path that not many businessmen in the country would prefer to travel by, Zahin Hasan has not only managed to stick by his passion but has also created a platform for the thousands of budding animators in the country. One hopes that the achievements of ToonBangla will inspire other companies to follow suit.

Nayeem Mahbub
on Working with ToonBangla on Murgi Keno Mutant:


Toon Bangla was looking for a short animation script and I got in touch. We were trying an idea out, but I just couldn't get the script to work. I went over to Zahin's office to tell him we needed to find a new story. I was completely stumped. What could we make a film about?

Then Zahin said: "how about a man-eating chicken?" The avian influenza epidemic was in full swing then.

I thought: that just might work.

As I got to work on the script, it became clear to me that I wanted it to have a uniquely local flavour. I wanted it to be in the spirit of Dhaliwood. Although disreputable to some, I think those films are completely legitimate artistic expressions. They're wildly inventive, bristling with energy like man's barely-contained primordial rage. It seemed like the right approach for a sci-fi action comedy about killer chickens in post-apocalyptic Dhaka.


I remember how excited I was the first time I saw rough drawings for characters and backgrounds. Here was this script I'd written, and now it was coming to life! Nothing would be possible without the amazing animation team at Toon Bangla. They showed me the ropes of how the process works. They took ideas I'd written about and improved on them ten-fold.

The artists put a lot of work into getting the look of the film right. It took a while to design appealing deshi characters and figure out how a ruined Dhaka might look.

I treated the cast like actors in a play - we rehearsed for a couple of weeks, sharpening the dialogue together, finding the right lines, working on comic timing. It was loads of fun. I think you can tell in the chemistry they have in the final film.

I have to add a little anecdote about Farhan Samad (aka Farhan Bhai), who did the sound and music. When we first met and he heard I was working on a "killer chicken movie" he said "who's doing your sound?" I quickly said: "you." When we met to discuss the sound, we really clicked on which direction. We went for something over the top and had a lot of fun it.

And when I got the first glimpses of shots moving, first in black and white, then in was magical, I tell you. I feel privileged being surrounded by all that talent.

Hasibur Rahman
Creator of Bangladesh's First Amphibious Car


Hasibur Rahman has built Bangladesh's first amphibious vehicle, which is able to haul up to 15 passengers on both land and water. The 35-year-old inventor hails from Komorpur village situated in the outskirts of Faridpur town, where he has set up a workshop on his own initiative. The inventor spends most of his day in his 'workspace', coming up with very eccentric yet very useful devices for everyday use.

It is unusual to see a person employ such inquisitive and intuitive talents, despite being a primary school dropout. Due to serious financial constraints, Rahman was forced to discontinue schooling after class 5. He had few alternatives, and so worked as an apprentice to one of the local carpenters in his village. He now owns a very small poultry operation in his backyard the means of his 'dry bread and onions' (butter poses to be too expensive for his living standards).

Even with such a small income, Rahman the innovator still succeeded in building the nation's first amphibious car The 'Shoukhion Paribahan'. Faster on water with a top speed of 30 kilometres per hour, this human hauler cost him a total of Tk 218,000 to build from scratch. It comes complete with a homing device to be pinpointed if it were to ever sink.

Rahman is a father of two and lives with his wife with a very nonchalant attitude towards peoples' opinion of him and his 'crazy' inventions. He says, “A lot of people have called me eccentric, mad, and even insane. I don't really care what opinions they have of me. It was, and always will be a dream to do something for my country before my time expires. And I want to do something of that sort through inventing at least one device useful enough to grab that attention. Inventing new gadgets has always inspired me and made me feel good about myself.”

by Rezaul Karim

Golam Kibria Tareq and S.M. Sadrul Islam Arif
Creator of Crazy Personal Digital Assistant

Imagine if you could verbally order your computer to carry out its functions - ask it to take notes, switch on your favourite song or download Youtube videos! Now, thanks to two innovative young minds, Golam Kibria Tareq and S.M. Sadrul Islam Arif, you can actually do that!

Crazy Personal Digital Assistant is a multi-purpose software that includes features needed by any computer user after installing the Operating System. The software has all the basic programmes one needs, including multimedia players, video downloader and converter and also a test editor with all the perks of Microsoft Word. The most eye-catching feature of the software, however, is the voice command. The menu is fully voice operated. More interesting still, with the software's text editor, typing is now obsolete one can just dictate what needs to written. The software is compatible with most Operating Systems including windows 7. The downloader is a handy tool to download Youtube videos and the converter can be used to convert most media file types.

Tareq and Arif are 4th year students, studying engineering in Rajshahi University. Their brilliant innovation has won them a number of awards.

With not many innovations in the field of technology from Bangladesh, the Crazy Personal Digital Assistant is a good example of the potential of the youth in the field. This should pave the way for further innovations in software development in the country.

by Moyukh Mahtab