It was 9 o’clock after dark. Everyone was in a trance-like state. The music was palpable throughout the air. Madol was playing on stage, while some were dancing on the front- all the other pairs of eyes were glued to them.
This is a scene from “Concert for Diversity” (Boichitrer Oikotan) organized by the Partnership for a Tolerant, Inclusive Bangladesh Project of UNDP under the Bokultola, Institute of Fine Arts. It was a true celebration of diversity. Not only the concert had bands from a lot of Bangladeshi ethnicities, but it also had two all-female bands owning up the stage.
The event started off with Rho Sangskritik Dol’s performance. Then came up the all-female minor ethnic band F-minor, who covered a wide range of songs, and got the audience up on their feet. By the time F-minor got down, the bokultola started to fill up, even the last seats were being taken up. Five thorn wings took the stage following F-minor. They started by explaining their songs which were all written in Khasia language. Their rock-sound filled up the air, all the while they were crooning to us about the struggle of their existence. They left with a deafening round of applause from the audience.
During the breaks between performances, people went to the side of the stage to fiddle with the folk music instruments that came from all corners of the country to be put on display, along with other handicrafts which were on sale for the event. The city- dwellers, especially the kids, were overwhelmed by them.
After Five Thorn Wings came the Bangla Band named Bangla 5 which already has its own fan-followers who also kept the slightly chilled weather warm with their support. They were followed by the second and final all-female band of the event, Kremlin. They geared the audience up again with their upbeat, funky music- their rendition of 4 non-blondes “what’s up” got people moving in and out of their chairs. Sacrament blew the whole crowd away with their very own diverse playlist full of Bengali, English, Garo and other songs and their charismatic persona.
One of the most vivid examples of diverse performance was from the Santal band called Sengel. All the members dressed up to the occasion in their traditional dresses, headdresses and flower arrangements while having a mixed set-up of desi and modern musical instruments. They sang and danced about their folklore, their traditions and, also their struggles. By then, the dancing crowd in the front of the stage grew even larger and the whole place turned into one big, heart-warming party where the diversity was not dividing, rather it bound them all together in celebration.
the whirlwind of Sengel, Meghdol took the stage and calmed the hyped audience
down with Shibu and Shoaib’s engulfing voice and the band’s kaleidoscopic tune.
night ended with the headlining performer, the indigenous band Madol ruling the
stage unanimously. Their strong words and trance-like music played the whole
audience like puppets. The crowd was as engrossed with the indigenous band
Madol as they were for the Dhaka-centric band Meghdol.
The aura of the whole scenario was something else. Even in the regular setting to celebrate “diversity”, there’s always a very significant and specific bubble of “woke” people present. But the case was completely different in Charukola as people from all sphere of life stopped to appreciate the music. Rickshaw-wala mama parked his rickshaw and sat down, bobbling his head with the familiar rhythm woven into pahari words. Mom with freshly bought books from Boi Mela on one hand, her kid on the other, took up chairs. It seemed like people from every ethnic background came together without a care for the culture of intolerance and violence currently existing in Bangladesh.
one night, with the ticket paid by tolerance and peaceful co-existence, the
love of music made all the people gather in celebration of all the ethnicities
under one country, one nationality. Is that not the dream?
Bollywood stars are revered in India. Ask David Letterman who in his Netflix show was left in disbelief about the popularity of Shahrukh Khan, one of the biggest Indian celebrities. The celebrities are usually vocal about political matters including the Pulwama attack which claimed the lives of at least 37 personnel. However, they have mostly remained silent except few celebrities surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the more recent acts of violence and riot in Delhi.
India, the largest democracy in the world is bleeding. This year, the Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has revoked Article 370 from Kashmir stripping it’s only majority Muslim state of its autonomy and published the National Register of Citizens in Assam (NRC) which has led to police brutality towards illegal immigrants. In December, it passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a law that provides citizenship to only non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This has led to protests in different parts of the country, Critics have been calling it out for being unconstitutional and another attack of the government on its Muslim population.
The silence from Bollywood might come as a surprise. But for a movie industry whose most bankable celebrities are three Muslim male superstars, it has a history of making movies which are Islamophobic and portrays Muslims as terrorists and Muslim countries as regressive and one-dimensional. In 1997, a war drama Border became an all-time blockbuster. It depicts a fictional narration of the period during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. The Indian soldiers are portrayed humanely with their families, the sacrifices they make for the country and their heroics. However, the Pakistani soldiers are shown as Muslim caricatures and the cause of destruction.
In 2001, Gadar- Ek Prem Katha became another all-time blockbuster. The movie narrates the traumas which families experienced because of the partition of India and Pakistan. While it remains mostly a neutral narrative and shows the losses on both sides, it makes its Sikh hero the saviour from whom the Muslims ultimately learn. During the 2001-2010 period, films such as Indian (2001), 16 December (2002), The Hero: Love Story of a Spy (2003), Veer-Zaara (2004), Dus (2005), Mission Istaanbul (2008) and many others which showed Muslims as terrorists, barbaric and threats to society. To not offend its Muslim minority audience, sometimes moviemakers would add a “good” Muslim character in the team who would fight “bad” Muslims. They would also show Muslim families who are victims of the radical Islamic country they live in.
In the majority of these movies, Pakistan or Pakistani terrorists would be the main villains. This could be attributed to India’s difficult relationship with Pakistan over the years including the Partition in 1947, the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Kashmir conflict and other military conflicts over the years. This along with the global islamophobia after the 9/11 attacks provided the perfect villain to Bollywood filmmakers. They used the raw sentiments of the Indian population from the Kargil War to create good v/s evil narratives to sell the movies.
However, in the last couple of years, Bollywood movies have started to include Muslim characters from history and different countries as villains. In 2018, a big-budget period fantasy piece Padmaavat by one of Indian’s biggest filmmakers turned Alauddin Khalji, the most powerful Muslim emperor of the Khalji Dynasty and his entire clan into “murderous, manipulative, cheating barbarians.” The Hindu ruler and community in the movie are shown to embody nobility, valour and patriotism.
Another movie, Uri-the Surgical Strike, based on Indian soldiers’ surgical strike on terrorist locations in Pakistan glorified the Indian Army. One of the characters ‘modelled on National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Govind Sir forcefully declares that India is now a ‘Naya Hindustan’, ye ghar main ghusega bhi aur marega bhi’ (“New Hindustan”, which enters houses and also kills in it). When patriotism takes the disguise of nationalism and is blanketed in a well-made movie, it becomes an extremely powerful propaganda tool to attack minority communities.
A movie titled, War adds to the stereotypes of what constitutes a “good” Muslim and the factors which make “bad” Muslims. The good Muslim women cover their head and go to the dargah, the good Muslim men do not touch alcohol. The bad Muslims stone women, indulge in multiple sexual activities and ask Allah for luck before committing crimes.
Recently, Priyanka Chopra one of the biggest Bollywood transplants to Hollywood was called out for endorsing nuclear war. The endorsement of war in Bollywood movies and by celebrities have a huge impact on the nation where celebrities are literally worshipped. It creates “the other” which puts further pressure on Indian Muslim communities who are already facing the wrath of a Hindu Nationalist Government.
Bollywood celebrities need to speak up against
the unconstitutional nature of the CAA. As the country continues to protest
against the Muslim exclusionary law, millions of Bollywood fans around the
world await on their beloved stars to take a stand in unity with the
It was a memorable night for millions of cinema fanatics as the Academy Awards celebrated its 92nd edition by honouring the best films of 2019.
Rising stars were thrown
into the limelight for the indelible mark they left on the big screen while the
veteran players of Hollywood made their presence felt by constantly reinventing
South Korean film Parasite
won the Academy Award for Best Picture, becoming the first non-English
language to achieve this feat. It also received nominations and wins in 3 other
Bong Joon-ho made
history by becoming the first South Korean filmmaker to be nominated and win
the Academy Award for Best Director for Parasite. He is also the 4th
Asian filmmaker to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the
second to win.
silenced his critics by stepping out of his Joker persona and into the
spotlight as the winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor. He’s also the
second actor to win the award for portraying the iconic comic book character,
following the late Heath Ledger.
Renee Zellweger took
home the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland in
the biographical film Judy.
Best Supporting Actor
Brad Pitt won the
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Hollywood stunt-man
Cliff Booth in the Quentin Tarantino-directed movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This
is Pitt’s first Oscar win in the acting category.
Best Supporting Actress
Laura Dern won the
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the Noah Baumbach drama film Marriage
Best Original Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay
Taika Waititi took home
the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and his first Oscar win for Jojo
Best Animated Feature Film
Best International Feature Film:
Best Documentary Feature
Best Documentary Short Subject
to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Best Live Action Short Film
Neighbors’ Window directed by Marshall Curry
Best Animated Short Film
Love directed by Matthew A. Cherry
Best Original Score
– Hildur Guðnadóttir
Best Original Song
Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
Best Sound Editing
Ferrari – Donald Sylvester
Best Sound Mixing
Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson
Best Production Design
Upon a Time in Hollywood – Production Design: Barbara Ling; Set Decoration:
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
– Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan, and Vivian Baker
Best Costume Design
Women – Jacqueline Durran
Best Film Editing
Ferrari – Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker
Best Visual Effects
Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler, and Dominic Tuohy
Heads up if the word Sex and anything related to it makes you giddy. Because if so, Netflix’s Sex Education is probably not for you. The show first premiered in 2019, then returned with a second season in 2020. And people just can’t stop talking about it.
The story begins with a socially awkward teenager Otis. His mother Jean is a sex therapist. Although sex is not a taboo at Otis’s house, it doesn’t stop him from hiding his own problems.
At Moordale High school the sex frenzy is on a spree and the hormonal teenagers continue to find troubles hidden within it. And Otis realizes that he knows a thing or two about Sex and sets up a secret sex therapy clinic with Maeve, a troubled girl behind her salty exterior.
A closer look
At first glance, you may think Netflix’s Sex Education is a bit offensive and too crude. But at its core, it’s extremely heartfelt and genuine. Most of all, it keeps the audience tied with delightful humour.
The best aspect of the show is the accurate depiction of teenage problems. And the lack of social structures to help them out; starting from questions about female masturbation, fetishes etc. Although the first season can be criticized for giving less scope for the supporting characters to develop; season two completely makes up for it. The show subtly touches on issues such as homophobia through Eric’s experiences; abortion stigma through Maeve, and single parenting through the Jean-Otis dynamic.
The character dynamics
By the end of season 1, you’ll be confused whether to root for Ola and Otis or to be craving more of Maeve and Otis’s chemistry. The beginning of season 2 might remind you of your teenage years; Otis and his excessive masturbation. The outbreak of Chlamydia makes all the tables turn in their teen lives as the blame game goes rampant.
The show continues to address key issues throughout season 2. Aimee’s sexual assault and the effect it has on her is perfectly portrayed while balancing the grave situation with light comedy. While Otis continues to experience the drama of teenage relationships, the introduction of new characters adds a new dynamic to the show.
If you are one of those people who laugh at your woke friends when they talk about asexuality because you think they are lying, well this season might be enlightening for you as it delves deeper into various sexual orientations bisexuality, pansexuality and asexuality. “Sex doesn’t make us whole”. While all the teenagers struggle with their romantic choices, a clear distinction is drawn between love and sex through a play of words.
Parenting and other issues
Toxic parenting is a featured issue in the show. Sometimes it is Jackson’s performance anxiety from keeping up with expectations; Jean’s inability to communicate with Otis or Maeve’s mother never being there to encourage her child. The show brushes over the sensitivity surrounding religion and homosexuality. As Otis and Maeve decide to continue the sex clinic, his mother makes it difficult for them to stay in business.
The show bashes toxic masculinity through the character of Otis’ father Remi. Otis realizes how he is a reflection of his father. Jean and Jakob’s relationship takes a turn as well. Jean experiences perimenopausal symptoms and decides to consult a health professional. Freedom for married women and acceptance of sexuality are developed perfectly through the character of Maureen Groff.
The show does focus on ramntic pairings too much at times on season 2. But it also feels like a friend to you. A friend you just click with and everyone confuses you to be a couple, a friend who is there to help you talk to your crush or a friend who helps you remember lines of Romeo and Juliet. Yes, Viv and Jackson have an uncanny resemblance with your “friend”, platonic relationships are indeed beautiful. The season ends with Otis losing his virginity and Ola finds her identity as it ends with a scene of mutual masturbation between Lily and Ola; a blooming relationship.
Although there are some inaccuracies in the specificity regarding information about sexual health; given the impeccable blend of humour, drama and societal taboos, Netflix’s Sex Education is definitely a show worth watching. A word of warning it might take you back to your teenage days making you feel warm and fuzzy or it or can remind you of awful decisions you made just like Otis. Well, this show might as well unravel the mystery of one of your weird fetishes.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Stellan Skarsgård (Chernobyl)
This year’s Golden Globes did not go as it was mostly predicted. The critics’ favourites surely were held on higher standards than the mass people’s hyped choices, except for in a couple of categories.
These results bring more hype for the Oscars. Let’s see what happens in the 92nd Academy Awards in February 2020.
The performance of U2 at the National Stadium in Singapore on December 1 has been by far one of the most anticipated topics on the internet and for the right reasons! Photos of the concert showed the band paying tribute to Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain and other legendary women of all generations.
As a part of The Joshua Tree tour, this is their first visit to South East Asia. In an article by Dhaka Tribune, drummer of Nemesis and Indalo, Dio Haque mentions how the ecstatic moment really moved him,
“While performing Ultraviolet they paid tribute to all trailblazing women of the world and Begum Rokeya was one of them. It was a great experience, a goosebumps moment.”
Dio Haque, Nemesis
Born on December 9th, 1880, Begum Rokeya Shakhawat Hossain, commonly known as Begum Rokeya was a progressive feminist thinker. She was ahead of her time who paved ways for many generations of women to come. Life as a woman is a constant battle, but trailblazing feminists like Begum Rokeya have made us realize that despite the struggles, there is always an end goal. Victories whether small or big, are celebratory.
Despite being brought up in an orthodox family and male-dominated environment, Begum Rokeya opened up to many options and let herself grow with education and seized every opportunity she could get. She founded the first school for Bengali Muslim women in Kolkata. She created the Muslim Women’s Association in order to support women education and create opportunities for them to build up a career through sustainable employment.
“Why do you allow yourselves to shut up?’
‘Because it cannot be helped as they are stronger than women.’
‘A lion is stronger than a man, but it does not enable him to dominate the human race. You have neglected the duty you owe to yourselves and you have lost your natural rights by shutting your eyes to your own interests.”
Rokeya Rokeya in Sultana’s Dream
In a harsh world full of hate and flickering flames of feud, let us unite with the hopes of a better future. Let us fight for the right kind of reasons. Let us pick each other up instead of competing to see who we can put down.
Watching Max perform his 1-hour comedy special You Can’t Joke About That felt like eating dessert before dinner. The 500tk ticket to his show at Urbiruhu got you entry along with dinner provided by Amader Tong with the comedian himself. Which a member of the audience, Ishan A. Alavi described as “one of the best home-cooked meals of his life.”
What’s so special about Max?
But, of course, his audience generally has a penchant for hyperboles. The whole premise of his comedy is a crass exaggeration. With that said, his performance is no ordinary dessert, but some form of British, Bangla, Indian fusion Roshogolla-kulfi-custard-pie. It is a true slice of the traveller he has been all his life, spending almost a decade as a street performer in London, a few months in India after winning an open mic, overlaying his strict Bengali-Muslim ex-pat upbringing in Saudi.
Here’s what’s interesting about Max – if his jokes flop he doesn’t just sit there and take it. He comments on the floppiness of his jokes, improvs a self-deprecating meta-narrative about why it didn’t work, so it’s no wonder his 1-hour ran overtime by 20 minutes. That and the fact that his audience kept pushing for more; the turnout was humble.
The space was quite intimately small, which is exactly what made his special, special.
In the age of Netflix, we see recorded specials brimmed with a theatre full of people cordoned away from the stage, and that lack of distance in Max’s special, purely from setting and venue, encouraged us to ask for more. It is rare to find a comic who can hold your focus for over an hour, but it is even rarer to find one a few feet away from you. The host and feature act for his show were Atiq Sohail and Eftekhar Alam, respectively, themselves burgeoning their own following.
What’s next for Max?
Max is currently challenging himself to work on his second 1-hour act, to finish off the year, called Acquired Down Syndrome. Rumour has it that it might be hosted at 3rd Space and filmed. From a cinematic standpoint, it would be interesting to see something like this find its landing somewhere on the screen. Paving the way for recorded live-action comedy is an important step for Max Mystel because he has a niche following in a place like Dhaka, whilst performing his comedy in English, peppered with earnest and stark moments of Bangla and Hindi. While his comedy tastes like dessert, it is admittedly dark and not for everyone. The bitter taste of his third culture jokes belong to an audience as adventurously global as he is, and it is my hope that he someday finds it.
The world is changing. And so are our heroes. Meet Priya, a tiger-riding, evil vanquishing superheroine from India. No more of the cliched “knight in shining amour”. This comic crusader is someone girls from the subcontinent can look up to and feel empowered. The first launch of the series was in December of 2014, exactly 2 years after the gruesome gang-rape of a young woman in Delhi.
Priya: The Origin Story
The first edition, Priya’s Shakhti, shows the origin story of Priya. She is a humble girl from a quaint village in India. In a horrible turn of events, Priya gets raped by men of her village. When she informs her family of the ordeal, her family shuns and ostracizes her. Instead of serving justice, the village elders blame her for provoking the men. Scared and lost, Priya flees to the forest to end her life. The goddess Parvati sees her plight and offers her retribution. Together, they confront the rapists and put an end to sexual violence. Priya, with her newfound powers, goes on to stop sexual violence and battle the stigma around rape and rape victims.
Priya And The Lost Girls: The Plot
In the second edition, Priya’s Mirror, Priya
joins forces with acid-attack victims to combat acid attack on women. The third
edition picks off right after. Priya returns home and finds that there are no
girls left in her village. They have been trapped by the powerful
sex-trafficker Rahu, an evil demon who runs an underground brothel. Priya mounts
her flying tiger, Sahas, and approaches Rahu’s den. Like all superheroes, she
fights the evil demon and defeats him. All the women who were forced to work as
sex-workers were freed.
What is interesting is the fact the writer and creator, Ram Devineni, portrays the real challenge that most superhero comics do not; the societal scorn and stigma against sex-workers. He effectively shows how the current society makes it difficult for victims of sex-trafficking to integrate back into normal life.
Storytelling is a very powerful tool. A story can help to change people’s hearts and shape their minds. The Priya comic series effectively addresses how survivors of sexual assault and violence are treated in society, especially in the Indian subcontinent. The core message is, the shame belongs to the attacker and not the survivor.
Star Cineplex’s first venture into film production, “No Dorai”- a film based on the story of a local Bangladeshi girl from Cox’s Bazar and her passion for surfing, has been the talk of the town recently.
Ever since the poster of a young surfer girl, in a red saree whose fierceness meets the ones in her eyes, was released, moviegoers have been eagerly waiting to go and watch what promised to be a milestone for Bangladeshi cinema. As it premiered on November 28th in Star Cineplex, it offered the local audience a glimpse into what it could have been. Had it not messed up so badly.
Directed by Taneem Rahman Angshu, the film has the elements that make it an exuberant celebration of the ups and downs in Ayesha’s (Sunerah) life. You see the passion in her eyes as she shows commendable surfing skills and the helplessness in her eyes when she asks her father for help after getting married. Sunehra’s portrayal of the character is admirable.
The cinematography of the film is magnificent. Cinematographer Suman Sarker has memorialized the sheer beauty of Cox’s Bazaar, wrapped them in bows and delivered this beautiful ‘gift’ of such brilliant cinematography.
Be it the spell-bounding drone shots of the beach, the placement of the actors on screen in a particular landscape or using various angles to portray the scenes, he has envisioned it right and created a magic like trance on screen.
Despite being a movie in local Chittagonian dialect throughout, Ayesha’s vulnerability portrayed with heartbreaking precision is something we all understand and feel sorry for. The acting chops of Sariful Razz and the actor portraying Ayesha’s brother were also commendable.
What does not
The two and a half hours of beautiful cinematic shots offer little story besides what we already know from the trailers and the title tracks. The lack of subtitles in a movie made entirely in the local dialect does not help its case either.
All in all, sitting through the entire runtime of No Dorai requires quite the hard work.
As fans enter the theatre expecting a film that highlights surfing, a struggling story and most importantly, women’s emancipation, they will find many of these elements missing. Despite great performances by Sunerah, her character often is overshadowed by the multiple other aspects of the movie revolving around Sohel’s (Sariful Razz) story.
The involvement of the foreign cast seemed distracting, especially because they did not blend in as well as the other characters. Ensuring more screen-time for Ayesha’s character and story would have made a more valid point for the plot of the movie.
With a story that becomes somewhat predictable after a while and a plot that does not resonate the message of women empowerment as strongly as it promised in the poster and trailer, No Dorai fails to deliver on its promise.
Brilliant cinematography, beautiful choice of musical scores and unforgettable acting from the casts involved fails to uplift a movie brought down by lazy and sub-par story writing. With a rating of 2/5 from us, in the end, No Dorai is just another Bangladeshi film with a potential wasted.