Bringing Tintin to Bangladesh
Popularly known as RJ Apu, Zahidul Haque Apu recently stirred social media with his concept fan art series, "Tintin in Bangladesh", inspired by "The Adventures of Tintin", a series of 24 comic books created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé.
Apu has been in the radio industry for more than 15 years. Known for his shows "Dhaka Calling" and "Hello Dhaka" on Radio Foorti, he is currently the head of programmes at Radio Dhol.
Apart from working on radio, Apu was involved with acting for quite some time. His notable works include celebrated director Ashfaque Nipun's series "Mukim Brothers" and tele-fiction "Landphoner Dingulite Prem", among others. A former creative group head at Ogilvy, a multinational advertising and brand communications agency, Apu is also the co-founder of Action Figure Collectors Association of Bangladesh – AFCAB.
"Three months ago, I was infected with Covid-19. I had to isolate myself from everyone for 21 days," shares Apu. "I was always into drawing, but somehow never took it seriously. During the isolated days, I finally thought about investing my time into it."
Apu has been a massive fan of Tintin since his childhood. While reading the comics, he used to wonder why Tintin never came to Bangladesh, or never had a Bengali version. Encouraged by his childhood curiosity, Apu decided to create his version of Tintin, by bringing the popular character to Bangladesh.
"I wanted to visualise what it would be like if Tintin actually came to Bangladesh, along with the rest of the characters," expresses Apu. "The idea was to take him in a few districts in Bangladesh, but seeing the positive response and the huge number of requests, I now plan to take him to all the major districts".
Apu also has plans to create another Tintin series, "Tintin in Dhaka", with only special and historic places in the capital. The 8th installment of the series also introduces Tintin to popular character Baker Bhai of Humayun Ahmed's "Kothao Keu Nei."
According to Apu, the main objective behind his artworks are to introduce the next generation of Bangladeshi kids to pop culture references in the 90s. In addition to Tintin, he created several drawings of other popular characters such as Macgyver, Knight Rider, Nonte Fonte, Batul the Great, and Himu, among others.
Apu is also inspired by Satyajit Ray. When the world of Ray was first introduced to Apu, he was astonished by the maestro's multi-faceted creativity. "Ray's masterful work motivated me to work in several aspects," asserts Apu. "I wanted to work on multiple areas of the entertainment industry."
"I realised I needed to do something to introduce the young generation to these timeless characters," says Apu "I wish to promote my country and the 90s era to the next generation through my work. We learned a lot from these characters in our childhood, as I am now teaching my six-year-old daughter through these recreations, I want to promote my artworks as a great way to learn from pop culture."
"I am constantly learning from my daughter about the kind of things we should be passing down to the next generations, or which aspects of pop-culture they might accept," he adds.
Apu showcases his artworks on his Facebook page, Arts by Apu. According to him, drawing is a mode of relaxation and stress relief, and he plans to do more through this medium in the future.