Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 6, Issue 03, Tuesday, January 18, 2011



Portrait of an artiste

During the war in 1971, Meher falls in love with a soldier from the enemy side. When her love is discovered, she is shamed and silenced by her family and society. Today 38 years after the war, Meher has a visitor she cannot turn down. Sarah a war child, Meher's cousin Neela's daughter, who was given away for adoption, has come back to piece together her past.

Together, these two women must re-tell history through stories in order to cut through the stigmas and walk into light.

This is the poignant tale of the film, Meherjaan, scheduled to be released on 21 January, 2011. Although the film begins with two central characters, as the story unfolds, the audience is captivated with the introduction of two protagonists Neela, a birangana and Meher's grandfather, Nanajan, a soul torn between his political ideals and stark reality. Through these four characters, the story of the liberation war of Bangladesh opens up with a humane perspective, shying away from nationalistic zeal.

Reetu A Sattar plays Neela, victim of the atrocities of war. In the portrayal of this role, artiste Reetu came full circle and began a journey of self-discovery. “From a happy-go-lucky girl, Neela takes a plunge into darkness as she falls prey to the lust of the raiding armed forces. But despite all she fights back, never bowing down to the pressures of society” says Reetu.

Her role in Meherjaan gave Reetu A Sattar a chance to re-evaluate her own individuality as a woman. “We women have multiple identities and it is in moments of vulnerability that we find our strength.”

Rubaiyat Hossain as writer and director, sketches a heart rendering perspective on the effects of war, its carnage. Time, they say, is the biggest healer but some wounds never really heal.

“Working with Jaya Bachchan and Victor Banerjee was a mindboggling experience. It was a humbling opportunity to be working with them as co-artistes. Their humility and down-to-earth attitude created a comfort zone for the new artistes and helped bring out the best in us.”

“It takes courage to approach the stalwarts, but whoever does so, backed with a good story, has always succeeded. From the very beginning, the story of Meherjaan intrigued both Victor Banerjee and Jaya Bachchan who play central characters.

“Rubaiyat succeeded in bringing stalwarts of alternative Indian cinema and collected a lot of fresh faces from the local scene. Yet the eclectic mix yielded fabulous results. There was good teamwork between the co-actors, director and the total unit of the film, irrespective of age and stature”, reiterated Reetu.

Meherjaan as the project will forever be remembered as a milestone of film production in Bangladesh. It was the melting pot of new, youthful ideas -- from the cast to the technical aspects. Shot over a period of one year and entirely in Bangladesh, Meherjaan is sure to make a mark because of powerful acting and perfect behind the scene technical aspects.

“Everyone enjoyed the healthy rivalry, our sheer determination of outshining the other. It was more like a workshop production for us working alongside big names of the industry and a bunch of young minds”.

Despite her vast experience in the theatre scene, Reetu was taken aback by the production. The number of short films she acted in before were all in digital media and Meherjaan being captured on 35mm was an enticing opportunity.

“'Action' and the film started to roll. We took cue, but every shot was like a new beginning; the sound of the rolling film created a sense of apprehension.”

Azad Abul Kalam is her leading man in the film. But she has a long-standing relationship with this powerful actor through their work on stage. Reetu started acting in 1999, when she joined Prachyanat. Her first role was that of Margarette Moore in “The Man For All Seasons,” a play by Robert Bolt. She now pursues acting as a profession.

Women artistes on stage or in front of the camera can be a glorious example of the struggle women face in our society. Their struggle goes beyond their onscreen personas and blends with life itself. This makes them strong human beings. With a commanding performance in the film Meherjaan, Reetu has proved beyond doubt that she is an emerging talent, to be taken notice of. This, is only her beginning.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif
Photo: Iqbal Ahmed
Makeup and styling: Farzana Shakil

Fashion driven

Iqbal Ahmed is one of the biggest names in Bangladesh when it comes to photography. He has done numerous assignments for a wide range of clients; Coca Cola, Nestle, Kay Kraft, HSBC and Brac Bank are just some of the many brands he has worked with.

After earning a diploma in professional photography from Dawson College in Canada and a few years of working there, he eventually returned to Bangladesh and got into the photography industry here. But that was not the start. “I first started taking photographs since the third grade when my father handed me a camera.”

Iqbal thus found his passion and eventually began taking photographs at weddings and events of relatives and friends without any remuneration. Even when he went to Canada, photography was just his hobby while he had a different job. But he has been a professional for many years now. So how does the industry look?

Although the number and the quality of fashion houses and businesses have increased, the number of photographers has increased even more. Competition is severe; therefore, many photographers are willing to charge a lot less for an assignment, engaging in a price war.

“Surviving solely on fashion photography is not a viable option; the market scope is still narrow”, says Iqbal. But considering photography in general, the market is “not bad”. Still, the photographer who has been successful may have been better off financially if he had achieved that same level of success in a different profession. But of course, actually liking your profession is very important.

And photography is a creative job, therefore it has its own perks. However, sadly a fashion photographer does not actually get the chance to always explore and use his/her creativity. A fashion photographer usually works for clients, and the art director of that organisation has the upper hand, thus highly curbing the freedom of the photographer.

On a different note, Iqbal says he is quite satisfied with the modeling industry. “Ramp models are the fashion models we work with, and I'm happy with their performance. In fashion, a lot of young people are becoming models, but the problem arises when we need to shoot, say for example, a middle-aged mother for an advertisement. These segments of people willing to shoot are in scarcity; and neither is working with them easy, since they are typically not professional models”, he says.

But what does it take to be an ideal model? “Primarily, height and their physiques should be good. The rest can be developed through training and grooming.”

On the other hand, a fashion photographer must be attentive to the latest trends. Iqbal shares a piece of advice given to him by a fellow student senior to him during his time at Dawson College, “Every week, you must buy every fashion magazine available in the store.” Like fashion, the approach, style and trends of fashion photography itself change often, and it is important to keep up.

Other than that, being disciplined, punctual and committed are vital factors for a photographer's (or for any professional's for that matter) success. “Never delay or miss deadlines”, he urges. Patience and controlling your rage when working with different kinds of people are also vital. Another important quality of a fashion photographer is honesty and ethics when dealing with the models.

If you do aspire to be a photographer be it in fashion or in other fields start publicising your work. “A great way to do so is through Facebook. If you also want to shoot photos for advertisements, then you can make a portfolio and approach advertisement firms.” advised Iqbal.

Taking photography courses will of course help too. And it goes without saying that, if you want to be a photographer, well, you need to take photographs! And make sure you do a lot of that. This will help you learn, enjoy and shape your own unique style in the process. Indeed, practice does make a photographer perfect!

By M H Haider
For more info, contact: iqbalphotography.com


Winter care

SADIA MOYEEN Beautician, La Belle
13/A /2 Kemal Ataturk Avenue ,
( 3rd/ 4th fl ) Gulshan -2

Winter has taken its own sweet time to show up this year but it's here with a bang, and has sent us scrambling into our storerooms looking for the warmest of warm woollies. Mine came out moth eaten while some have this obnoxious smell that all the sunning and dry cleaning has not gotten rid of. Heaters have sold out in the market, skin is like dry parchment paper, hair is statically charged but through it all I enjoy the winter; my skin and hair will disagree but I'm afraid I like winter.

The quest each winter is to avoid the drying effect the weather has on our skin. It's imperative to replace the lost moisture so that it does not lead to premature wrinkling and chaffing. Chances of breaking out into pimples and acne related issues seem to be less in the cold but other issues like lines and wrinkles can make an unexpected and unwelcome appearance.

Skin care products that we use in summer and which perhaps suit us perfectly for the season may not be suitable during winter. Cleansing creams instead of face washes, creams instead of lotions and richer night creams at night are viable options to improve and nourish our skin.

Facials cannot be missed, in fact the monthly summer facial now has to be a bi- monthly affair. Deep moisturising facials with rich penetrating creams are a better option. Fruit facials should be avoided in winter.

A good face, hair and body massage with olive oil before a hot shower will make your skin soft and healthy. Evening Primrose oil is also a great moisturiser and has moisture-retaining properties, particularly useful for very dry and sensitive skin types.

Hot oil treatments can be a real treat for the scalp and hair. Henna users should avoid using henna packs on their hair in winter as it will dry out the hair and strip it of moisture and you will get a good dose of a cold because of its cooling properties too. Try deep conditioning protein packs instead to make the hair soft, manageable and silky. Jojoba oil is also an excellent, easily absorbed oil that is great for the condition of the scalp and hair.

Avoid the sun even though the temptation to bask in the warmth of the sun is going to be great. Ultraviolet rays of the sun can damage your skin. UVB rays will burn your skin if you sunbathe too long. UVA rays are strong the year round and cause ageing and wrinkling of the skin. Guard against this with a broad spectrum sun cream which contains UVA and UVB filters incase you cannot resist roasting yourself.


Operation Smilee

M.B.B.S, D.L.O ENT, Head-Neck
& Cosmetic Surgeon,
Phone: 01199845531

A healthy child is the greatest gift from God to any parent. When a child is born and the parents see the child for the first time, it is the most beautiful and memorable moment for them. But when that face is deformed it is a heartbreaking experience for those parents.

Every year 30,000 children are born with defects like cleft lips and palates. The cause of these deformities is not that clear but malnutrition seems to play a big part in it. These children are mostly born into poor families and are neglected, as parents cannot afford proper treatment.

Cleft lips and palates are conditions when the lip or palate or both do not unite during intrauterine life and there is a gap either on the lip or palate. This can happen as only a lip defect, or palate alone, or both deformities can be present in the same baby.

These babies have difficulty in feeding as they cannot suck properly and those with palate defects cannot swallow properly. So they need to be spoon-fed, and the mother needs to be taught how to take care of these babies.

The unfortunate thing is that in a poor country like Bangladesh, we do not have many resources to take special care of these babies and mostly they remain neglected. Due to their ill-nourished state these children have low immunity and suffer from different kinds of infections.

When they start growing they are usually underweight and their speech is not clear because they cannot form words properly. As these babies have deformed faces it is hard for them to make friends and they are teased once they start going to school. They are hesitant to go to school, become friendless and develop a sense of inferiority. The sad thing is that although these conditions can be treated easily, due to the lack of information and finance, these children remain untreated.

An operation to repair the lip and palate defect is all that is needed to treat these babies. These surgeries are done by plastic, paediatric and ENT, and general surgeons. The ideal age for surgery for a cleft lip is 3-6 months and cleft palate is 9-18 months. But if not done at this age, they can be done later.

Nowadays many camps are held all over Bangladesh to perform surgeries for these babies. Surgeons join these camps for 2-3 days and do the surgeries free of cost.

Operation Smile is a US based organisation running such camps worldwide. They have volunteers working from all over the world, travelling to different countries and treating these patients free of cost.

Starting from very experienced medical teams to social workers doing administrative work, everyone works on a voluntary basis. Operation Smile started operating in Bangladesh since last year. The main headquarters for Asia is in Singapore. They sponsor volunteers from all over the world including Bangladesh and operate on children with cleft lips and palate defects. Last year about 87 operations were done and this will be their second, consecutive year in Bangladesh.

Patients from all over Dhaka and surrounding areas are screened in the first stage. BRAC through their field workers screen their areas and these children are then seen by surgeons. A final screening is done when the camp starts. About 6-7 surgeries are done in one day. Usually the team stays for 6 days.

Operation Smile performs these surgeries free of cost, which includes medication during and after surgery and meals for the patients and their parents while staying in the hospital are also provided. We thank Operation Smile for coming to Bangladesh and helping so many children and hope they will continue with this noble work in the future.


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