Despite the uninviting, gloomy weather, an air of festivity and grandeur surrounded the capital's International Convention Hall Bashundhara yesterday for the award ceremony of The Daily Star-Standard Chartered Celebrating Life's 11th edition.
This year's theme, “Architecture of Bangladesh”, celebrated the literal pillars that the country stands upon -- its architectural heritage and beauty.
The competition brought in thousands of entries in the film-making, photography and lyric writing segments, among which the best were recognised and awarded in the lavish gala.
Portraits of this year's lifetime achievement winners -- singer Runa Laila, actor and cultural activist Syed Hasan Imam and actor, director and thespian Aly Zaker -- were elegantly decorated on the red carpet entrance of Nabaratri Hall, alongside those of the jury and past winners.
An impressive display of the photographic entries of this year's competition inside the venue further brightened the atmosphere already lit up by Shadhona's mesmerising dance performance as the audience filled up the hall.
Minister of Cultural Affairs, Asaduzzaman Noor, chief guest at the event, commended The Daily Star for promoting and rewarding young talent from even the remote areas of the country.
“Economic development can never be the only yardstick of a nation,” he said, adding, “It has to be accompanied by cultural enlightenment.”
He went on to thank the lifetime achievement awardees for their contributions to the nation.
Md Abu Rasel Rony, Salma Aktar and Ram Krishna Shaha emerged as the winners of the photography, lyrics and film (debut documentary) segments while Chowdhury Asif Jahangir Arko was announced the winner of the Best Film (Fiction) award.
Speaking at the programme, Naser Ezaz Bijoy, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, Bangladesh, said, “Even though the last 11 years of Celebrating Life has given us a lot of memorable moments, being able to discover talented individuals from the remotest parts of Bangladesh will always be the highlight for me.”
In his welcome address, Editor and Publisher of The Daily Star Mahfuz Anam mentioned that the institution itself feels privileged to be able to felicitate awards to luminaries of such stature. “Journalism is an all-absorbing profession. However, events as such also fall into a broader world of journalism, as no nation is truly complete without the practice of liberal arts and creativity.”
Throughout the event, musicians of the highest pedigree entertained the audience. Shahjahan Munshi, a popular Baul artiste, stunned the crowd with his soulful performance of “Ekti Premer Protidaan”. Promising singers Oyshee and Barna came up with a fantastic rendition of the winning entry of Celebrating Life's lyric competition, “Bangladesh Priyo Bangladesh”.
One of the highlights of the evening was a stellar performance from National Award winning singer Mitali Mukherjee. The noted singer paid tribute to the lifetime achievement award winners with soulful renditions of her blockbuster songs, as well as Rabindra Sangeet “Purano Shei Diner Kotha”.
The event ended with an energetic performance from Band Lalon, one of Bangladesh's most sought after bands.
Celebrating Life began its journey as a national-level contest in 2008. Many established names of the film, music and photography sectors today found their footing with this unique competition, which looks to encourage and reward aspiring talents who have the potential to be staples of the industry. The competition introduces a new theme every year, which the contestants must base their work accordingly. The theme of last year's Celebrating Life was “Celebrating Diversity in Bangladesh”.
The likes of Mustafa Monwar, Babita, Ferdausi Majumdar, Abdur Razzak, Firoza Begum, among many other cultural luminaries, have received the lifetime achievement award.