John Wick 3: A better sequel with a bigger kill count

Baba Yaga is back. Keanu Reeve’s third time playing John Wick pays off with ultimate fan service to the lovers of action movies. ‘John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum’ dazzles with fewer dialogues and a bazillion of action setpieces. It seems like the franchise is more interested in worldbuilding rather than a decent script and honestly, we don’t complain.

People don’t go to theatres expecting a John Wick movie to be a storytelling spectacle. If you can ignore some necessary aspects, this film will get your approval as the ‘Edge of the seat’ action mayhem we have not seen since the likes of Mission Impossible: Fallout. Rest assured that you will walk out of the theatre with a vertiginous head. The film is unquestionably violent and mostly, all caps LARGER THAN LIFE.

Run Wick, run!

Director Chad Stahelski’s third entry in the R-rated franchise has got lots of guns, knives and even books as weapons. Parabellum picks up from where the second movie ended. Out soft-spoken antihero, John Wick is declared ‘excommunicado’ by the ruling assassin council ‘The High Table’. With a $14 million bounty on his head, Wick races throughout New York City and eventually, to Casablanca to mitigate his enmity with the high table.

Meanwhile, a mysterious woman called ‘The adjudicator’ pays a visit to the Continental hotel. She warns Winston (Ian McShane)- the manager of Continental to step down from his position. The adjudicator stated it is only because of Winston that John Wick could spill blood in Continental grounds and the high table can’t spare this. The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) also gets a visit from her. Just like Winston, he is guilty of helping John Wick (he gave Wick a gun). He laughs it off when The adjudicator tells him to leave town.

Wick meets Sophia (Halle Berry) who happens to be an old colleague. Sophia is in no mood to assist him but ends up joining his quest for old times sake. To make amends, Wick tries to find a man called ‘The Elder’, who sits above the high table. But he’s untraceable, can John find him for redemption?

The good, the bad and the bullets

The first act is arguably the best part of the movie. John Wick movies are not known so much for stories as for brilliantly crafted action sequences. The franchise ups its ante with a uniquely presented fight and chase sequences. If there was an Oscar for stuntwork, this move would have won every one of them. Action is the heart of this movie and the only reason we’d recommend you to watch it in theatres.

They say, ‘Your heroes are only as good as your villains’.

What’s an action movie without a terrific villain? Apparently, it’s the area where Parabellum falls short. Zero (Mark Dacascos) the knife-wielding ninja is the baddie of this film. Despite his martial arts masterworks and unwarranted wit, we were not overly fond of him.

John Wick 3 is rightfully a neo-noir bloodbath which ends on a dramatic note but teases for more sequel.

We’ll probably see Halle Berry in a meaningful role next time. Her cameo sets up the backdrop of what she might be up to in the next film.

So go to Star Cineplex if you love the puppy loving hit-man John Wick. Get your tickets from here.

Bonus: This time, there’s a lot of horses as well, and they kick major ass!

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Recently, I came across an article stating, “People stop discovering music after 30”. This is a rather downlifting study for many of us. There will never be a shortage of great music. But most often they are unnoticed and dominated by substandard crap. Bangladeshi millennials can boast of the band music scene they have grown up listening since the 2000s. Speaking of, have we given due attention to the bands who rightfully deserved it?

Read more: Not just a clone: the Imagine Radio Story

Making a career as a band musician is hard in Bangladesh. Many promising bands have shown their potential but eventually gravitated towards other professions. Apparently making music can barely pay your bills. So this article is a homage to the bands who have shown tremendous musicianship but faded out of the scene. Some of them went abroad, others are inactive…or subject to typical rockstar feud.

Icons

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Icons is an alternative rock band who released their debut album Ishshoronio in 2005. Before landing a studio album deal with G-series, Icons made quite a name through various mixed albums. Yours truly still fantasizes about their reunion show…maybe in the distant future.

Notable tracks: Oporanho, Ishshoronio, Neon

Read more: Sodium Batir Gaan – changing the culture of open air music

Vibe

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

If I could resurrect one band from dormancy, it would be VIBE. This alternative/heavy metal band created a lot of buzz when their album ‘Chena Jogot’ hit the market in 2007. I remember my peers complimenting about Vibe by saying, “they could be the next Artcell!”. Let’s not go into comparison because Vibe have created a sound of their own. Please come back, we need you!

Notable tracks: Shesher opashe, Nostalgia, Shopnodeb

Read more: Bangladeshi graphic novels: 5 essential reads

The Watson Brothers

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Cryptic Fate and The Attempted Band, two bands that varied in genre, got together to form ‘The Watson Brothers’. Thankfully, the chemistry worked very well. In 2003, TWB released their album “Ohom”. The band may not be around anymore, but their songs are actively performed by Cryptic Fate (which is a relief).

Notable tracks: Rong, Akash, Ohom

Minerva

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Minerva came into limelight with their epic medley of 19 minutes (A tribute to Bangladeshi bands). It transcended every frontier of awesomeness that to call it a cover will be an understatement. But the groove metal band have cemented their position in the music scene with their debut album “Biday Shongbidhan” (2013). The band has been inactive for quite a while. We can only hope their comeback with this year’s Rocknation.

Notable tracks: Ashirbaad, Jaatra, Mrittur Shesh Choy

These artists attest to the fact “Quality matters, not quantity”.

The mentioned bands gave us priceless music. The only thing we demand from them is a reunion gig.

Remember, hope is a great thing!

Watch: Zamor, a Bangladeshi in the French Revolution

(Album artworks featured in this article are courtesy of banglacdcovers.blogspot.com. Head over to their blog to see hi-res scanned image of old, new and rare CD covers)

A love letter to MCU from a fan with no ticket

Dear MCU,

Hope this letter finds you in good spirit. I know you are too busy to respond, but I wanted to let you know what you mean to us.

The millennials needed a major pop culture boost. We were fatigued to drool over dated fandoms. We needed something of our own.

And we got one. The mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Read more: “Thank you, Marvel” – a fan looks back on 10 years of the MCU

The Messiah

Before MCU, comic book adaptations on the silver screen were always dissed by the producers. We sure had some darling flicks at the turn of the century such as Sam Raimi’s Spiderman and the X-Men trilogy, but they were deemed as nothing but potboilers. One 20th Century Fox executive even went on to say the genre ends with X-Men: The Last Stand, there is no future for this kind of rubbish. But tables were meant to turn. With the release of Batman Begins in 2005, superhero movies got a wholly new facelift. Chris Nolan aptly destigmatized Batman movies. But something was missing. We were half expecting some messiah would step in to make some superhero flicks featuring our larger than life heroes.

Finally, the messiah came and conquered.

His name is Kevin Feige.

The mastermind behind the monumental success of MCU. He pitched the idea of an inter connected movie franchise spanning decades. The major reason DC could not win in the theaters on par with Marvel because they couldn’t hire someone like Feige.

The big bang

It all started with Iron Man in 2008. The very idea of post-credit scenes in superhero films was entwined in this movie, and I missed it the first time. Nick Fury sneaking inside Stark mansion to approach Tony for a superhero team-up? It felt surreal. Who could have thought the possibility of one behemoth superhero movie like the Avenger (2012)? Four separate franchises were following a pathway to culminate into one historical motion picture.

The summer Avengers was released, I didn’t go to the theatre to have cinematic experience of some sort. I was just so happy to see four of my poster heroes fighting as a team. But the movie made our jaws drop, eyes bulge and hairs on our back raise in respect. It is arguably (one of the) greatest comic book adaptation till this day and years to come. A big hug for director Joss Whedon. I felt sad when he had to deal critically with Disney execs over creative issues. The man wanted Spiderman and other characters to appear in Age of Ultron. Instead, he got Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Can we blame him for his exasperation to direct the highly anticipated sequel?

On the darker side

The MCU has its fair share of haters too. Loki is the only grade A villain in the whole universe. I am intentionally excluding Winter Soldier, he doesn’t really count as a foe, does he? Thanos should not be compared with other names whatsoever. So where does it put MCU in the radar?

Cool action movies on steroids with unimpressive baddies? Maybe.

The directors who have worked relentlessly for phase 1-3 deserve a round of applause. The Russo brothers deserve something more, like a gigantic bouquet the size of a hulkbuster suit.

The people who made it happen

MCU succeeded with flying colors. One key reason is the casting. The people who played their respective characters in the movies, were meant to play those parts. Can you imagine Tom Cruise as Tony Stark? He almost bagged the role of this fancy billionaire if former cocaine junkie Downey Jr didn’t show his relentless passion to make a comeback in Hollywood. He gets 50 million per movie now for playing Iron Man.

And last but not least, we want to gleefully remember the masters who drew and wrote about the characters and universe. You guys rock! Stan Lee was fateful to see his creations on the silver screen. I wish other artists were as lucky as Stan the man. Jack Kirby (and many more) creators never got the due money or respect they should have gotten.

Before I manage to survive the adrenaline rush Avengers: Endgame has to offer, this is my token of love for the movies I will re-watch for the rest of my life.

Read more: A roadmap to Endgame: Everything you need to know

Yours truly

A fan with no ticket

Hellboy reboot is a stinker, but David Harbour shines bright

Clearly, the world was not anticipating a R-rated Hellboy reboot weeks before the release of Avengers: Endgame. Based on Mike Mignola’s terrific comics, Hellboy (2019) is the third attempt of the series. Despite its Deadpoolesque (or lack thereof) wit and gore, the David Harbour starrer bombed at the box office upon its release last week. We haven’t seen a comic book movie fail in this proportion for a long time. Seriously, what went wrong?

The 2019 version of Hellboy is starkly different from the previous two instalments directed by Guillermo Del Toro

Neil Marshall steps into the shoes of Del Toro and crafts a shamelessly violent yet wisecracking version of Hellboy. Marshall is known for horror and action movies and he orchestrated two Game of Thrones battles. His GoT connections justify the gorefest in Hellboy.

A brief (and digestible) origin story

At the height of world war 2, the Nazi’s initiated project Ragnarok, which brought the demon Hellboy on earth from the depths of hell. Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane), the chief of B.P.R.D adopts and raises him to fight against the dark forces.

A below average villain

Mila Jovovich plays the role of a 5th-century sorceress (Nimue-the blood queen). She was defeated and dismembered by King Arthur in the ancient time. In a wicked turn of events, her disjointed body parts are retrieved from different corners of Britain in order to resurrect her in current time. Nimue and her pig giant henchman bring wrath upon the earth and she also has a crush on our main man Hellboy.

Nimue miserably fails to impress as a villain. She might have a similar agenda that of Thanos’, but her character lacks any kind of persona a baddie should possess.

Forgettable cast

This movie has an ensemble of forgettable supporting characters. There’s M11 special agent Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) who can evolve into a wolf by injecting a super serum. Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), a medium who can foresee the future teams up with Hellboy but for us she was a sidekick reject.

Only acting that warrants respect in this film is Ian McShane’s Bruttenholm. David Harbour is unquestionably the heart of this film. He delicately portrays a funny yet ruthless demon beneath the layers of his brilliant makeup.

The worst comic book movie of the decade (probably)

Ron Perlman and Del Toro’s Hellboy was not something we will root for in the future. Both Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy: The Golden Army (2008) were average flicks and earned passable box office money. But at least they were miles ahead in comparison with the reboot version. Lionsgate is going to lose a lot of money as the film fell flat at the theatres.

Another great comic book character wasted on the silver screen.


Watch Hellboy if you love the comics. There is an MCU style post credit scene which hints a sequel (which we don’t want for God’s sake). The soundtracks are cool. Check out the Smoke on the water cover by 2WEI.

Hellboy is now running in STAR Cineplex. Get your tickets from here.

Interested in creative writing? Check out these two books

Books are a uniquely portable magic. The wordsmiths who write magical books are not entirely God gifted individuals. Their writing prowess is in fact, result of intense work ethic and some rule of thumb. Writing may be about craftsmanship and imagination, but it can be learned if you closely follow specific guidelines, courtesy of veterans of this field. Obviously, no one can train you to become the next Shakespeare or Tagore, but have firm belief that writing skill can be mastered. Who knows, you could be a bestselling author someday!

Let us introduce you to writing pro tips by Stephen King and Syed Shamsul Haque. The following books can teach you to write better in English and Bangla.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Stephen King is revered as an astonishing horror writer across the world. His books have spawned films like ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘Stand by Me’.  This one time, Stephen King’s publicist told him to write a book for aspiring writers. King took this opportunity and wrote his autobiography “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”. This book is a Bible for people who want to start writing but clueless about where to start from. As a religious Stephen King fanatic, I had to lay my hands on this masterpiece. Little did I know this will change my perception about writing forever.

“On Writing” was published in 1994 and immediately met with critical and popular acclaim. Part biography, part writing masterclass, this book consists of 2 parts, one tells about his life from the early sixties, the other part is his way of interpreting the art of writing. The writer himself is very confident that with the appropriate orientation and tools, it is possible anyone can be a successful writer. Not of Shakespearean or Dickensian stature, but at least s/he will be able to make a living out of writing. Stephen states some writers are God gifted and their talent is way beyond our understanding. But like any other skills, writing too can be learned and mastered, given the person gets the right dictation at the right time.

Marjine Montobbyo (মার্জিনে মন্তব্য) by Syed Shamsul Haque

Syed Shamsul Haque, the eminent poet, playwright and novelist- decodes the art of writing  in his book ‘Marjine Montobbyo’. Originally published as newspaper columns, this book is a holy grail for any aspirant to excel in Bangla creative writing. Haque cracks the technique of writing poetry and fiction.Nevertheless, he is reluctant to call this book a manual of some sort. “Writing has some prerequisites attached to it, if someone gets a mentor and exposure to the tools earlier in their life, it’s easy for them to nurture those habits and apply it to their writing. This book nonchalantly approaches the dos and donts of creative writing”, states Haque. The author not only reveals his manta but also analyzes work by other literary giants. Marjine Montobbyo is so inspirational that even bestselling writer Anisul Haque recommends this to novice writers.

If you want to start writing, these books might be your north star. Just don’t stop reading as much as you can. And never let anyone undermine your writing.

Good luck!

That ’70s Show: The criminally underrated sitcom you need to binge.

“Hello, Wisconsin!”

If those words do not ring any bell to you, chances are you have never watched “That ’70s Show”. For those who are unfamiliar with this sitcom, here is a piece of television history for you. That ’70s Show is an American period sitcom that aired between 1998 and 2006. It ran for 200 episodes, spanning 8 seasons.

If you are a patsy for comedy, now might not be the best of times for you.

The Big Bang Theory is closing its curtain with its twelfth and final season this year. Modern Family will return for its final season in 2020. And I know you have already binged Friends a bazillion times (for some people, HIMYM applies as well). In case you feel void of a great sitcom in your life, here is a cue for you. Go watch That ’70s Show. You will be hooked. By hooked I mean you will not rest easy until you finish all of the 8 seasons. Oh, you are not convinced yet? Fine, let me take the lead then.

The resurgence of retroelements in pop culture is an indication that audiences, mostly millennials are obsessed with nostalgia. We love living in the past. This is why you will fall in love with That ’70s Show. It is set in the bell-bottom era of th mid-’70s, chronicles the lives of 6 high schoolers and interprets the cultural aspects of that period that few shows ever could. Keep in mind that this is a show about living in the ’70s and it was produced in the ’90s.

The plot

Without further ado, let’s delve into the cast and settings. The pilot episode opens in a basement of a middle-class house. 6 teenagers are orchestrating their plan to steal beer cans from Eric Forman’s dad. They are all in Eric’s house so Eric is coerced to go upstairs and scavenge the cans for them. We just met our lead cast of the show and most of them are very recognizable actors. Eric (Topher Grace) is a boy desperate to become a man, oftentimes get lectured by his funnily rude dad. Eric has a love interest, named Donna (Laura Prepon) who is not your typical retro chick. Her independent and strong nature is a hint of the burgeoning gender equality of that era.

Jacky and Kelso are an ever quarrelling couple played by real-life sweethearts Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. Jacky does not fit into the group yet sticks with them whereas Kelso is a stupid good looking guy whose greatest challenge in life is to break up with Jacky. Hyde (Danny Masterson) is a nihilist and rebel. He is easily my most favorite character in this show. His Zeppelin t-shirts and love for good old rock and roll makes me like him even more. And last but not least, we have Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), a foreign exchange student who is still recovering from cultural shock. Fez is the heart of this series and he will do anything to steal your girl.

What makes this show an underrated gem

One of the prime focus of this show is the chemistry between Eric and Donna. Their “More than friends but not really in love” affair is something to die for. Kelso-Jackie, the other two lovebirds put on quite a show as well. Ashton Kutcher does a phenomenal job playing Michael Kelso. Mila Kunis who was 14 while filming the pilot, is equally impressive. That ’70s show hilariously showcases the practice of smoking pot which gained notoriety in the ’70s. 4 teens lock themselves up in a basement, smoke pot and trash talk until their shenanigans get hindered by Eric’s dad. One of the most memorable scenes of this show, I can vouch for that.

I have met with mixed responses when I argued this is a gem of a show and quite underrated. Some people disagreed. The reason some people may not enjoy the jokes and sentiments of this show is because not all of us can relate to the references that entwines the music, norms and relationships of that time. Nevertheless, it rests with a special place in my fandomverse.

You will love the theme song. Rock, disco and pop reigns throughout the show. The soundtracks are unmissable, do check ‘em out!

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed

Komola Rocket, the Bangladeshi drama film entirely shot in a vintage steamer, has landed on Netflix earlier this year. As a ferry vessel enthusiast, the film was a long overdue one for me. Here’s my two cents about this 112 minute feature film that have made its way to international film festivals and earned accolades as well.

The brilliant minds behind

Based on short stories (‘Moulik’ and ‘Cyprus’) by esteemed writer Shahaduzzaman, Komola Rocket is the debut directorial venture of Noor Imran Mithu. Mithu previously worked with Mostofa Sarwar Farooki as an assistant director and was the lead actor in ‘Pipra Bidya’. Mithun merged two stories of his favourite writer and turned it into a script for Komola rocket. As interesting as it may sound, the film was shot in a century-old steamer and locations range from Sadarghat to the river beds of Khulna.

The plot

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed 3

Rocket, a very old steamer where queen Elizabeth once onboarded (not kidding), starts its journey from Sadarghat towards Khulna. With a crazy mix of passengers, rocket moves toward Meghna river. We see a packed vessel where every passenger has a story worth listening.

From circus freaks to corrupt business magnate, the stark contrast in social class is the heart of Komola rocket.

Atik, an idiosyncratic man is going to Khulna on a hideout to spare himself from an arson conspiracy. He meets a dysfunctional family he would rather not involve with. The family consists a couple with a child and a young woman. Atik, ever so edgy, also stumbles upon a weirdo called Mofizul. Camouflaging as a poet and kabiraj, Mofizul runs a prostitution ring in the steamer. Atik is bewildered when Mofizul mistakes him for a client, but he gets used to his fawning.

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed 7

We see a narcissist young girl who secretly mates with her boyfriend, not knowing Atik is right beside her room. Atik seems uninterested. His only concern is to withdraw insurance money for fire attack at his factory. It is clearly implied that Atik is the mastermind behind this sabotage. Fatefully enough, a distraught man named Monsur also onboarded rocket with a corpse. His wife was burnt alive at a factory fire tragedy and he’s going to bury her at their native village. Monsur meets Atik, not knowing he’s the owner of the very factory where his wife died.

The subtle messages

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed 4

There are other supporting characters who appear once in a while, aptly reflecting our social conscience.

Unemployment, cheating husband, rotting dead bodies- Komola rocket explores it all.

In the final act of the film, the steamer gets stuck in a ridge and it stands still in the middle of the river. Food supplies in the rocket shrinks soon. people from VIP cabin to freeloaders- all stand in line with a hungry stomach to eat overpriced dinner. The movie ends on a depressing note. We don’t see where the characters end up; we only see their misery, lust and greed.

What works and what doesn’t

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed 2

Komola rocket sees Tauqir Ahmed and Mosharraf Karim sharing the silver screen for the second time. Atik and Mofizul are played by Tauqir and Mosharraf respectively. Samia Syed, a Lux-Channel I superstar contestant appears as the narcissistic girl. Other acting credits include Joyraaj, Sheoti, Dominic Gomez etc. One thing I have to highlight about this film is the pristine cinematography. There are several drone shots of the rocket which I significantly liked. Noor Imran Mithu gets a pass for his first direction. If I have to nitpick anything about Komola rocket, then it should be the dialogue. I think the dialogues could have been a bit relevant and matured with the context. Overall, Komola rocket should be on your watchlist as one of the few decent Bengali language movies out there.

Check out other Bangladeshi films streaming on Netflix. ‘Television’ and ‘Pipra bidya’ are some of the popular titles you will currently find on this website.

5 Bangladeshi platforms where you can pitch your startup

There is an imminent need for entrepreneurs who are willing to change Bangladesh, home to 160 million people, for the better . Professionals are being encouraged to defy convention and pursue entrepreneurship over traditional career paths like doctors and engineers, now more than ever. However, entrepreneurs need the know-hows and the resources which are hard to get, especially at the beginning. With a growing local start-up ecosystem, we can only hope that more industry experts will pave the way for young bloods to build sustainable businesses.

A number of Bangladeshi startup incubators have been working closely with local talents to scale up businesses, especially tech ventures.

Our country abounds with go-getters who can shape our economic landscape for the better. And these platforms can be a breeding ground of startups that can have commercial success in Bangladesh, possibly across the world. Here are 5 deshi incubators where you can pitch your dream startup.

Grameenphone Accelerator 

The GP Accelerator is an incubator that accelerates 5 startups every year.
35 teams are called in to participate in a two-day long boot camp, from which 15 startups were selected for further rounds of assessment, face-to-face interviews and pitch presentations. Finally, after fierce competition, five companies are selected. This way, from over a thousand applications, 5 standout companies are selected on the basis of the team’s ability to execute and the strength of the business.

GPA provides a 4-month bootcamp at GPhouse. Office space, structured curricula, investor access and mentorship are offered to the top 5 teams in this program.

Teams get the opportunity to learn from local and foreign mentors, industry experts and professionals on critical development elements like term sheet, valuation, financial modeling, branding, etc. Starting from 2014, 5 batches of startups have graduated from this program. Winners receive seed funding of 12+ lakh taka and Grameenphone may take up to 8-10% equity. Some of the notable alumni include Sheba, CMED, Doctorkoi etc.

More about Grameenphone Accelerator

Toru Impactors

The Toru Institute of Inclusive Innovation has launched the ‘Impactor’ program for early stage startups. Saif Kamal, founder of Toru said in an interview, “We have always had accelerator programs or competitions, but ideas need extensive and long-term support in order to become impactful enterprises.” Impactor program is a 8-month long business incubation program for entrepreneurs who want to transform their idea, early form of a product or an early stage business into a successful business enterprise with a social impact.

30 Impactors learn through a series of workshops. From that cohort, 15 Impactors are selected to continue their engagement, building a business model canvas and growth strategy. The top 10 Impactors embark on a 6-month long journey of business incubation, taking their venture to grow and be investment ready. These Impactors are matched with experts from their respective sectors, receiving individually tailored support. The final 3 Impactors receive up to 10 lakh taka seed funding, and workspace from Startup Bangladesh.

Startups who have worked with Toru include Sheba.xyz, iFarmer, ShopUp and 10MS.

More about Impactors

Urban Innovation Challenge

“Our cities, our solutions”- with this motto, UIC embarked on the journey to find urban entrepreneurs to reshape our cities with a smart solution. UIC throws 5 challenges which are healthcare, wash, renewable energy, climate change and low-cost urban housing. 5 teams are selected for incubation and each of them receive 5+ lakh taka seed funding. Hands-on training, access to partnerships. further funding opportunities- UIC has it all. The best thing about UIC is that it empowers startups to make our urban lives better. Besides commercial success, startups should also demonstrate societal impact, which UIC strives to achieve. UIC is powered by BRAC.

More about the Urban Innovation Challenge

Tiger Cage  

Are you one of those people who binge ‘Shark Tank’ and wishfully think of a Bangladeshi reality show about seed funding? If yes, you’ve got it. ‘Tiger Cage’-an incubator in the form of a reality show where real investors meet real entrepreneurs. Startups with demonstrable prototypes pitch their idea to angel investors. The judges of this show are the ‘Tigers’; when they are convinced, they can choose to invest in the businesses. Participants can get funding of as much as 2 crore taka.

Intelligence Machines Limited, the first startup featured on the pilot episode, have raised 2 crore taka of funding in exchange for 45% of ownership. Sounds cool, huh? Tiger Cage is an initiative of Startup Dhaka.

More about Tiger Cage

iDEA Accelerator

iDEA Accelerator was founded by ICT ministry of Bangladesh to foster the culture of entrepreneurship among innovators. Startups that are in both ideation or seed stage are eligible to apply for enlistment. A big cohort of early tech companies have received funding from this platform. It is commendable to see that our govt. is taking part in the revolution of the startup era.

More about iDEA Accelerator

The startup culture may have been romanticized by movies and tv shows, but it’s quite challenging in real life, to say the least. It takes a lot of dedication, failure and passion to see a dream flourish. Do check out these prominent platforms to get that leg up. Who knows, you may be building the next Pathao or 10 Minute School.

The Beatles doesn’t exist…in the movie ‘Yesterday’

‘Yesterday’, the Danny Boyle movie due this June, is about a world where ‘The Beatles’ doesn’t exist. By the looks of its first trailer, the musical-comedy promises to rock.

Directed by Danny Boyle, from a screenplay by Richard Curtis and a story by Jack Barth, ‘Yesterday’ centres around a guy named Jack Malik. Jack is a run of the mill musician. He fails as a performer, but his girlfriend comforts him assuring ‘miracles’ do happen. One fateful night, a global power outage occurs. Following the worldwide load-shedding, Jack succumbs to a road accident. He survives but loses a pair of front teeth. As soon as he recovers and returns to normal life, he realizes nobody in this world recognizes ‘The Beatles’ anymore, except him. The Fab Four is completely erased from history, even from the internet. But Jack remembers all of their songs and can play them as well!

Jack is bewitched to see that John, Paul, Ringo and George are completely forgotten, but he also unleashes opportunity to reintroduce Beatlemania to the new generation. Willingly or not, Jack becomes a superstar by singing songs of ‘The Beatles’. His fans and critics commend his godsend songwriting ability (!) which Jack denies to be credited for. Meanwhile, he soars to stardom and eventually gets alienated from Ellie, his love interest.

What happens next can only be known when ‘Yesterday’ releases in June 28th. Jack Malik is played by Himesh Patel. Ed Sheeran makes a guest appearance as well.

Bangladeshi graphic novels: 5 essential reads

Graphic novel is a wonderful medium where art and literature interplays. Often deemed as a pulpy and lesser creative form, graphic novels have gained momentum in the past 20 years or so. Often mistakenly labelled as comics, graphic novels deal with deeper subject matter and perplexed illustrations. They are bigger in length as well.

Bangladesh too has a thriving graphic novel scene confined in a limited readership. It is great to see publishing houses like Panjeree and Dhaka Comics are catering to the local fans and publishing new graphic novels frequently. If you have never read a deshi graphic novel, here is an essential reading list to get you started with. These 5 titles are a testament that our local writers/artists are rivalling with their Western counterparts, with what limited time and resource they have.

#1 Ruhan Ruhan (রুহান রুহান)

Genre: Sci-fi

Publisher: Dhaka Comics

Credit: Muhammad Zafar Iqbal (story), Mehedi Haque (illustration)

Summary: Ruhan Ruhan is set in a nihilistic and dystopian planet where people have no sense of humanity whatsoever. Ruhan, was fatefully kidnapped and deported to the planet ‘Gruzan’. A gang of savage businessmen throws him two options- either engage in a win-or-die gladiator match or be a guinea pig of human anatomy replacement. Ruhan is no ordinary guy, he defies the corrupt system and reclaims humanity. This graphic novel is a 5 part series; the last issue is scheduled to hit bookstores this year.

#2 Laily (লাইলী)

Genre: Comedy/romance

Publisher: Panjeree

Credit: Shahrier Khan (Story and illustration)

Summary: Laily, the titular character, is a drop dead gorgeous girl of her neighbourhood. After a 10 year hiatus, she returns to the area where she grew up. In no time, a neighboring engineer, a gangster and a journalist fall for her. With a heavy dose of Dhallywood-ish humor, Laily tackles all the hopeless romantics come what may. This is by far the best comedy graphic novel by a Bangladeshi artist. Although I might be opinionated, you’ll thank me later for recommending Laily!

#3 Shurjer Din (সূর্যের দিন)

Genre: Liberation war

Publisher: Pragati

Credits: Humayun Ahmed (story), Ahsan Habib (illustration)

Summary: Shurjer din chronicles the life of a group of teens amidst the tension of the liberation war. The main characters go through a crisis as their regular life comes to a standstill following the events of 1971. I highly recommend this graphic novel to pre-teenagers. Adapted from a Humayun Ahmed novella, Ahsan Habib’s illustration breathes sentiments of our glorious liberation war in this gem. This is a suitable starter for young readers who find war stories complex.

#4 Poncho Romancho (পঞ্চ রোমাঞ্চ)

Genre: Anthology

Publisher: Dhaka Comics

Credits: Kazi Anwar Hossain (story), various artists (illustration)

Summary: Kazi Anwar Hossain is a name synonymous with thriller/adventure books in Bangla. Back in mid 70’s, the legendary ‘Kazi Da’ adapted 5 stories by foreign writers, giving them an appropriate local setting. The book came out titled ‘Poncho Romancho’ featuring stories named Onno konokhane, Jhamela, Cancer, Ostad and Porokiya. Almost four decades later, Dhaka Comics adapted this anthology collection as a graphic novel. If you are a Sheba Prokashani fan, this one will definitely send nostalgia down your bloodstream.

#5 Cube (কিউব)

Genre: Sci-fi

Publisher: Panjeree

Credit: Shahrier Khan (story and illustration)

Summary: Geologist Joy Ahmed is employed in the coastal city of Cox’s Bazaar. He was having an ordinary life but soon things escalade when he stumbles upon an alien race. Aliens come to earth to scout a mysteriously powerful thing called ‘cube’. Whoever possesses the cube gains super power. Joy finds a cube as well as his love interest. But he will have a hard time defending his city as the extraterrestrial threat looms large in picturesque places of Chittagong.

That’s all for now, folks. I insist you to read Bangladeshi graphic novels. Without our support, it’s very hard to be a professional in this medium. As the local comic readers grow, we can dream of a day when fan-favourite titles will become live action movies. We’ll have our own Avengers or Tintin, someday!