Anwar Hossain believed that the love for a subject comes from within. Even though he was an Architecture graduate from BUET, it was his love for the visages of the common Bangladeshi that drove him to begin his career in photography.
For him, photography was the process of transferring not only the subject, but also the love he felt for it, from the camera onto the photograph.
It was a matter of great shock and sorrow as the country learned that national and international award-winning photographer Anwar Hossain was found dead in Dhaka's Panthapath area yesterday morning.
On information, police broke open the door of a room in hotel Olio Dream Haven around 11:30am and found his body on the bed, said GG Biswas, officer-in-charge of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station. There was no injury mark on his body, the OC said.
A Bangladeshi-born French citizen, Anwar was staying at the hotel as he was invited as a judge for a photography competition. The organisers of the competition had fixed hotel Olio Dream as his accommodation.
Shohel Haider Khan, general manager of the hotel, told The Daily Star that Anwar boarded the hotel on November 28. Hotel authorities called the police when the competition organisers had come to pick him up and he did not respond. Police sent the body to Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital morgue yesterday for autopsy.
Born in October 6, 1948, in old Dhaka, Anwar left his mark of brilliance since his school days. He earned a diploma in cinematography from the Film and Television Institute of Pune, India.
A freedom fighter, deeply connected to his roots, left for France in 1991 after the death of his first wife which had left him completely shattered. He once said, “At that time it seemed all hell had broken loose over me and just like in a jungle where all animals attack the bruised one, attacks ensued upon me from different sides. Both the photography and cinema circles let me down. So, I thought it would be apt to leave…”
Once in France, Anwar found a new direction in life. In 1993, he married a French woman and soon began a family there. He said it was when he held his first-born Akash in his hands that he once again found the love of his life. He realised there was no greater love for him than that of his son.
Anwar is survived by his two sons, aged 14 and 10, currently living in France.
He had won more than 60 international awards for photography. He had filmed 15 fictions and 30 documentaries and published eight major photo books.
He had been teaching for the last 40 years and some of our most prized filmmakers, including Tareque Masud, Tanveer Mokammel and Mishuk Munier, were his students at some point in time. He was the cinematographer of timeless films like “Surja Dighal Bari”, “Emiler Goenda Bahini', “Dahan”, “Lalsalu”, “Anya Jiban”, “Nadir Naam Madhumati”, “Chitra Nodir Pare”, “Shyamol Chhaya”, “Three Beauties” (Producer) and “Swapnabhumi: The Promised Land”. His work is said to have ushered in a new era in Bangladeshi cinema.
“Anwar Hossain's work, dynamic in their composition, provocative in their form, vocal in their expression, became the fault line in this comfortable space. Anwar's characters were not passive players fitting into a set piece, but individuals with a voice of their own. They were angry and passionate and reflective. A muse to the enfant terrible determined to shake up this self-congratulatory world. More widely read than the others, Anwar borrowed from the west. His need to experiment also led him into film, where he produced some of the most memorable imagery in our contemporary cinema,” said eminent photographer Shahidul Alam.
“Anwar Hossain's work became a turning point in Bangladeshi photography and an inspiration to an entire generation of younger photographers. Years back, we were able to put together a fine show for 'Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography'. The bulk of his work has not been archived and may well now be lost,” he added.
“I am deeply shocked at the demise of my friend Anwar Hossain, a pioneering photographer as well as a celebrated cinematographer of Bangladesh. It is a great loss for the nation,” expressed renowned artist Kalidas Karmakar.
Internationally renowned mime artiste Partha Pratim Majumder said, “Bangladesh has lost one of the brightest stars in the sky of photography and cinematography.”
Renowned filmmaker Jean-Nesar Osman said, “Anwar Hossain was very popular in the Film and Television Institute of Pune, India, for his sound knowledge in the technical aspects of the camera and his aesthetic judgment of photography. Many of his teachers, including film critic Satish Bahadur, adored him for his academic excellence.”
Anwar Hossain's body will be brought to the Central Shaheed Minar premises at 11:15am today for people from all walks of life to come and pay the final respects.