In conversation with Ganga-Jamuna Cultural Festival convener Ghulam Kuddus
Amid the ongoing pandemic, the Ganga-Jamuna Cultural Festival enthralled audiences for the last 12 days at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA). The festival, which returned after a year on October 1, concludes today.
With 140 theatre groups and over 3,500 artistes as participants, this year brought a diverse programme to the forefront.
The ninth installment of the festival is dedicated to the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, marking 50 years of independence of Bangladesh at the same time.
The Daily Star caught up with the convener of the Ganga Jamuna Theatre and Cultural Festival Organising Committee, author Ghulam Kuddus, on the closing day.
"Although we couldn't arrange the festival last year, we were eager for the event this time around," says Ghulam. "Considering everything, I would say it has been a successful event amid the pandemic."
Ghulam is also the President of Sommilito Sanskritik Jote. He shares that the pandemic had greatly affected artistes from different walks of life.
"The biggest challenge for this year was that in just three months, we arranged everything," he shares.
"When the pandemic hit, artistes were bound to leave the city, and for a long time, they were away from stage and rehearsals," says Ghulam.
"It was challenging because all the materials and props for the festival were discarded. We had to rearrange everything in a short time, including the rehearsals. The artistes were quite enthusiastic," he adds.
Although foreign groups could not join the festival due to visa restrictions, the convener informed that this year had the highest number of groups participating till date in the Ganga Jamuna Cultural Festival.
"We have tried to bring a wide range of performances this time, compared to previous years," he says. " For instance the 'Dhamail' song from Haor, the dance recital "Battle of Bangladesh'' which was first staged in 1972 on the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's 'Joliot-Curie Peace Award' event, 'Gombira' and the regional song from Chapainawabganj were new. A troupe from Rangamati also performed in their local language."
According to Ghulam, the festival boosted the mental strength of the masses, which was affected by the pandemic.
"I am also glad that the audience have maintained the health protocols well, and cooperated with us," he asserts.
"The festival enhanced happiness for people, emphasizing the fact that Bangladesh was built with liberal values, free from all kinds of exploitation. To some extent, such cultural awakening helps instigate the idea to the masses," he concludes.