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A Bangladeshi’s story of romanticizing the rain

People have been romanticizing the rain since the beginning of time. There are poems and stories written that revolve around the beauty of this season. There are paintings of the scenic beauty of rainy days in Dhaka, and as time goes by, we seem to come up with more reasons to romanticize rainy days.

Most importantly, because the weather in Bangladesh rarely changes, the rain is something people look forward to. And even if it disrupts us going to class/work on time or floods the roads of Dhaka, the rain is an absolute delight, right? Because the rainy season is always glorified so much, I tried looking for a few things we can always get out of a rainy day.

The only time everything looks aesthetic

The best part about rain is that every place in Dhaka looks picture-worthy. Hell, the sky’s the main attraction so does it really matter what else there is in the background? No matter where you live, and where you are, the dull sky and lightning make every single place in Dhaka aesthetic. Even if your home is next to a local slum, the rain will have some way of making it look good. And why would you NOT make a video of this blessing of a season?

Finally becoming a photographer

Whether you have a flip phone or a DSLR, today is the day you finally become a photographer. Even if it’s of the trees and signboards breaking down and blocking the street, you need to take a picture. There’s beauty in destruction too, after all. Taking a breath-taking picture on a rainy day will definitely be the stepping stone of your photography career. But since it’s important you make it look professional, get yourself some photography gadgets. Save up to buy the best DSLR in the market, with lenses and a tripod. Or better yet, buy an iPhone! We all know every iPhone user is a pro photographer by heart.

Getting in touch with Bangla literature

This is the time of the year a lot of people get in touch with Bangla literature. At least, that’s what I got from the pictures. During rainy days, people read almost as much Bangla literature as they do during the month of February. And jokes apart, this is probably the most beautiful thing the rain brings to Bangladesh. You’ll find many people reading Bangla poetry and novels, even if it is for that one day. And even they don’t, they’ll definitely take it out of the bookshelf just to take a picture, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Whatever the reason is, don’t stop yourself from reading a few lines of Bangla poetry just because some writer said it’s mainstream in a humorous piece about the rain.  

Unleashing the writer in you

Now, you’ve taken a lot of pictures of the rain, the sky, and everything else around you. But you definitely need something deep to caption it. Since you took advantage of this day to turn yourself into a professional photographer, why not become a writer too? Today, you can write whatever you want (as long as it’s so deep people don’t understand a word of it and avoid reading) and use it to enhance the aesthetic vibe of your photography. However, if you don’t think you’re capable of writing yourself something amazing, there are always lyrics from Oniket Prantor or Shei je Boshe Ache that can save the day!

Love, Death, and Robots: A more perfect anthology never existed

Only a few works can be compared to the new release of Netflix titled as Love, Death, and Robots. It was expected that a series produced by David Fincher and created by Tim Miller would be pretty good. But no one expected that it would be this amazing.

This anthology series has crossed boundaries among genres like Comedy, Animation, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction etc.

Love, Death, and Robots: A more perfect anthology never existed

If you are still wondering whether to try out this gift or not, then here is your spoiler-free review.

Different people seek different things in a series. Some, care for the story while some carefully scrutinize the animation. We’ll cover it from different angles.

Ratings

There are people who think the series quality is solely tied to its ratings. If you’re one of those people, then here are some of the fresh ratings for you.

IMDB: 9.1/10 –

There is a high chance that you might not take this rating seriously. This much distrust is legit I believe. So, let’s move onto the next rating.

Rotten Tomatoes: Average Tomatometer: 75% –

Although it is a bit early to rely on the Rotten Tomatoes ratings still 75% on the average Tomatometer is pretty decent. Moreover, 94% of the users have rated it over 3.5 out of 5.

Metacritic: 8.6/10 –

Based on 61 ratings Metacritic gave it an 8.6 out of 10. Only two critic reviews have landed till now. Of these two one is positive, and one is mixed.

Heaven of Horror: 4/5 –

Heaven of horror covers horror, thriller and sci-fi movies & TV shows. They are more like an expert in reviewing the creations of these genres. So, when they give it a 4/5, you should consider watching it.

Animation is outstanding

Each of the 18 shorts from this series has its signature animation style. While watching the first episode you will discover yourself watching gameplay. On the episode titled as Beyond the Aquila Rift it is easy to get confused. In fact, the super realistic animation of this episode will easily bewilder you.

Love, Death, and Robots: A more perfect anthology never existed

In one subreddit post, one animator cleared out the mystery behind this hyper-realistic animation. Everything on this episode is motion captured. All the body and facial motions were first captured form the actors and then transformed into CGI. In fact, the performers had to wear helmets and other gears that could capture their motions.

Besides this episode, there are other notable animations in other episodes. On the third episode, the animation is more like comics strips. Remember the animation from Into the Spiderverse? Well, here you will see something close to that. In other words, frame rates are manipulated to show speed in this episode.

Love, Death, and Robots: A more perfect anthology never existed

Like me, many people have agreed on the fact that the best animation of this season was on the episode ‘The Secret War’.

Moreover, there will be times when you won’t be able to differentiate between motion captured animation and VFX. Even the hand-drawn episodes are pretty stunning. In truth, no matter which episode you start watching, it is inevitable that you’ll be in for a surprise.

Story quality varies a bit

The creators have rounded up some great flash fictions. These stories have explored the sci-fi as well as supernatural genre. In some episodes, characters are well built in spite of the short duration. Even though the stories are sci-fi, you will be able to relate to the characters.

John Scalzi, Joe Lansdale, Ken Liu, Claudine Griggs, and Alastair Reynolds. These names belong to some of the most prominent writers all around the world. These writers were the source of some of the best episodes of this series.

John Scalzi is the former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Joe R. Lansdale has won the British Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award, and several other awards. Ken Liu has won in the World Fantasy Awards. Alastair Reynolds is a former space scientist who has now published over sixty short Sci-fi stories.

Love, Death, and Robots: A more perfect anthology never existed

The adapted screenplays from the flash fictions of these writers have generated something really ‘Cool’. Furthermore, many episodes have given tribute to other great movies and tv shows. With one episode you will find the resemblance of 127 Hours. Similarly, In one episode you’ll find easter eggs from Dr. Manhattan. Also, the name of Rear Window (1954) has come up in the discussions. Many have reviewed that this season is a mini version of Black Mirror, but we think this goes more with The Animatrix

In fact, the episodes are well organized throughout the season. If one episode gives you dread, the next one will lighten up the mood with absurd humor.

Ranking the best episodes

Just like any other Tv shows this too had great and average episodes. Here are our ratings for 5 of the best episodes out of 18 shorts.

  • Beyond the Aquila Rift – 9.7/10
  • Good Hunting – 9.4/10
  • The Witness – 9.3/10
  • The Secret War – 9.1/10
  • When the Yogurt Took Over – 9/10

Verdict

In short ‘Love, Death, and Robots’ is an out of the world experience, thanks to its awesome storyline and animation.

David Fincher and Tim Miller’s latest masterpiece easily gets 4/5 from us.

If you are still confused about watching it, please don’t be. Take a leap of faith and experience what both modern technology and creative mind have accomplished by working together.

Woman and wit go hand in hand – Raba Khan addresses critics at Dhaka Lit Fest

Photos: Christina Joyeeta

Raba Khan – a well-known video blogger, YouTuber and comedian – made her mark at the 2018 Dhaka Lit Fest as a panellist, alongside a number of famous writers and poets. Known for her satirical videos, she was invited to the panel “Women and Wit”, with Fariha Panni. The session began by addressing struggles in the relationship between women and wit all over the world, touching on how women are not expected to be funny in our patriarchal society. People always appreciate a man for being funny but when it comes to a woman, she is termed a “goofball”. “Women are not desirable when they are funny,” says the 19-year-old Raba, who has her own cult following on Bangladeshi social media and is a rising star among the youth of Dhaka’s varied urban culture. On the other hand, there is an immense pressure on men and their need to be humorous or entertaining.

Questions were raised on social media about her place in such an event when it was clear that Raba would be attending DLF as a panellist. She commented on the lack of women all around the world in the comedy entertainment industry.  She said that there isn’t anyone she knows or could look up to with a career in comedy, whereas there are many male comedians like Hanif Sanket, Naveed Mahbub and Mosharof Karim, just to name a few. Since she hasn’t come across any woman who pursued this line of work, it was twice as challenging for her. There will always be people who won’t take her work as having any importance. She also questioned who else they should have brought on this panel to talk about this specific topic.

Dhaka Lit Fest: Women and Wit

Later the session diverted to the ever going clash between humour and seriousness. Fariha Panni asked the audience – “Why can’t someone be serious and funny at the same time?” –  which the audience countered by saying how people who use sarcasm in their remarks are hardly ever taken seriously. What people fail to realize is that through a sarcastic tone one can easily take on issues that are difficult to address otherwise. It’s a way of telling the truth in a much lighter manner, without coming off as confrontational.

Raba said that there isn’t anyone she knows or could look up to with a career in comedy, whereas there are many male comedians like Hanif Sanket, Naveed Mahbub and Mosharof Karim, just to name a few.

When asked about the stereotypes in our society that she addresses in her videos, Raba says, “I make these stereotypes to break them”. She wants to change these stereotypes that are present in our society by making people laugh. Some of her comparisons can seem a bit far-fetched, but purely for entertainment purposes. She asserts, “I try to make my videos entertaining and exaggerate things. Without hyperbole it’s hard to emphasize the message”.

In a country like ours, being a woman and going through daily activities can be a challenge in itself, let alone be a female comedian creating content for social media. Quoting from a person in the audience, “Women and wit go hand in hand”. It is certainly necessary to talk about this in a platform like DLF. This segment was slightly different from others at DLF – light, relaxed and much more interactive. By getting Raba Khan to the panel it was easier to catch the attention of the younger generation. Raba’s inclusion by the organisers was a way to connect with young people. It’s important in getting messages out that would otherwise have been dismissed as being juvenile. It served its purpose well, as evidenced by the lack of a single vacant seat in the auditorium. Hopefully, it’s a start in breaking stereotypes and inspiring more women to take up comedy.

Want to start reading again? Here are 7 bookstores in Dhaka

Every so often, I hear my friends say, ‘I really wish I read’ or ‘I want to start reading again’. Lament no more, a great place to start is a walk around these lovely bookstores. For seasoned readers,  tablets and e-readers will never suffice. We still prefer to read physical copies of books, flipping through the pages and taking in the scent of new (or old) books. Going to these bookstores has the plus of exploring reading with booksellers who are consummate bibliophiles who take joy in the matching reader to writer. And that human component is an important part of the literary experience. We may not have a Waterstones or a Barnes and Noble store in Bangladesh, but we have these lovely nooks to get lost in.

Here’s a list of places in Dhaka where you can buy your next novel or add the latest to your collection:

1. Book Gallery

7 bookstores in Dhaka-HiFi Public

This is a little shop in New Market where I’ve been going since I was 12. Back then, it used to be called Book Web. This little bookstore offers a decent collection of originals at a reasonable price and hence my frequent visits without burning draining every bit of my small childhood allowance. Their space is much larger and more organized now than it used to be. Their collection has largely improved as well and they also have a Facebook page where they post updates on their collection!

Address: Enter through Gate 1 of New Market and take a left down the row of bookstores. It is at the end of the cul de sac, next to ABC Stationery.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bookgallerydhaka/

2. Pathak Shamabesh

7 bookstores in Dhaka-HiFi Public

Our capital’s Shahbag can be considered as our very own book district because of the numerous independent bookstores in the area and a handful at Aziz Super Market. This is a must–visit for every bookworm in Dhaka. This 30+ year old bookstore houses a huge collection of both English and Bangla literature. What makes Pathak Shamabesh particularly stand out are their occasional book fair and festivals hosted in collaboration with publishers. Authors often visit and hold book signing events.

Address: Pathak Shamabesh Center  is situated in the annex building of the National Museum
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PscltdDhaka

3. Charcha

7 bookstores in Dhaka-HiFi Public

This is a relatively newfound gem. Though their classics collection is a bit disappointing, they boast by far the best collection of contemporaries I have found in Bangladesh. They have many new releases and many shortlisted books for the Man Booker Prize. They also have a rich collection of Bangla literature. I appreciated the detour from the mainstream Dan Brown and Lee Child collections that ususally populate Bangladeshi bookstores. My favourite part, you don’t have to buy the books to read. So, pick up a book, grab a seat, and read until the store closes (at 8pm).

Address: 107 Sher Shah Shuri Road, Mohammadpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh 1207
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/charchabooks/

4. Baatighar

7 bookstores in Dhaka-HiFi Public

This bookstore/library is originally from Chittagong. They have started their operations in Dhaka only last year. They have an exemplary collection of Bangla literature! Their most unique display is a little kids corner with many children’s books and comic books. You can comfortably release your inner Chacha Chowdhury fangirl! Baatighar is open from 10 am to 10 pm and they have a coffee corner. There is also a rooftop café on the Bishyo Shahittya Bhaban where you can get some snacks if you’re hungry after a long day of feeding your soul.

Address: Their Dhaka branch is situated in the already familiar Bishyo Shahittya Kendra building in Banglamotor. 17 Mymensingh Road, Bangla Motor (3.29 mi), Dhaka, Bangladesh 1000 .
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BaatigharDHK/

5. Bengal Boi

7 bookstores in Dhaka-HiFi Public

With the slogan of ‘Boiyer Majhe Doob’ (Dive into Books), Bengal Boi–an initiative of Bengal Foundation was opened in November 2017.  The ground floor has a rich collection of old books, which cannot be purchased, but each book can be exchanged with two old books. There is a stock of both English and Bangla books by local and international writers. There is a reading space, an open space on the ground floor and an indoor space to have coffee and snacks while indulging in the latest bestseller or art book.

Address: 1/3 Block D, Lalmatia, Dhaka, Bangladesh 1209
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bengalboidhaka/

6. Bookworm

7 bookstores in Dhaka-HiFi Public

Every bibliophile has that one bookstore they have a personal connection with. I remember going to Bookworm ever since I can remember. They were one of the very few bookstores that used to release Harry Potter books on their release day. Potterheads like me would flock to their then only outlet on Old Airport road on chilly winter mornings, just to get our hands on that fresh new and long awaited sequel. While other bookstores like Words and Pages have terminated their operations, Bookworm has only expanded. Now they have opened another outlet in Dhanmondi in collaboration with North End Coffee Roasters!

For a friendly, cosy reading and buying experience, head to this little corner. The English collection is extensive and the storekeepers are very helpful.

Address: Twin Peaks Complex, Old Airport Road, Tejgoan. Under the MIG 21 Fighter Jet & Eagle Statue. Or opposite Falcon Hall. (1.88 mi), Dhaka, Bangladesh 1215

3rd Floor, Kazi &Kazi Tower, Dhanmondi. Inside North End Coffee Roasters.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bookwormbangladesh/

7. Boi Bochitra

This is a household name in Bangladesh. In addition to original paperbacks and hardcovers, they also offer a splendid variety of stationery supplies such as notebooks, journals, washi tapes, sticky notes and model papers, meeting our arts and crafts needs while we were growing up. Boi Bichitra has an edge over other bookstores in Bangladesh because of their many branches. There is a store in almost every area in the capital. So if you are suddenly hankering to buy some new life to put on your bookshelves find out the one nearest to you and head over!

Address:  Some of the branches are:

at  ADC Empire Plaza 183, Satmasjid Road, Dhanmondi, Dhaka

House No. 40, Main Road No: 01, Section No-10, Mirpur, Dhaka-1212

Rupayan 141, Road No. 12, Block-E Banani, Dhaka-1209

 Golden Age, Shop# 19,25,26 (Ground floor) Plot No 6, Block# C.W.N.(C) 99, Road No. 37 Gulshan Avenue, Dhaka-1212

Enjoy the significantly lower prices and an exponentially greater book inventory that you can enjoy in Bangladesh. So let’s peruse the aisles, experience the scent of new books, feel the pages and support our local indie bookstores. Even if all else fails, you can always head over to Nilkhet!

Netflix announces new production of The Chronicles of Narnia

Between 1950 and 1956, a great mind wrote a novel series for children complete with magic, demons, angels, betrayals, and reconciliation. 60 years later, we’re still obsessed with it – The Chronicles of Narnia.

Dedicated fans of all seven books, were somewhat disappointed with the movie franchise. There were hints that the franchise will return with the adventures of Eustace – 8 years on, fans are still waiting. And since the book readers know how the story ends, they are genuinely curious to see how the movie geniuses of our time make it.

The wait has finally come to an end. Streaming giant Netflix just announced both a TV series and new movies based on this beloved series of children’s literature. What’s more, they aim at doing multiple productions – which means all of our questions will have a chance of getting answered.

Netflix announces Narnia series
Netflix announces Narnia series

The fact that Netflix is taking up projects to cover all of the books is not the only exciting thing about it. The proposed production crew is over the top. Producing legend Mark Gordon is supposed to be working on these projects. He is responsible for series’ like Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy, Quantico and Murder on the Orient Express. He is also responsible for movies like Saving Private Ryan, Source Code and 2012. The list of extraordinary artists goes on. Vincent Sieber, who worked on the original Narnia films, will be joining him – along with Douglas Gresham, who is directly related to C.S. Lewis, the creator of the fantasy world. If that is not an exciting production crew, then we don’t know what is.

Netflix has met expectations in adaptations of other series. But the question still remains – will they be able to live up to the hype? Fingers crossed, let’s see what happens.