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    Volume 9 Issue 13| March 26, 2010|

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Sepia Images Bathed in Bangladesh's Sun

Fayza Haq

Photos: Yask Desai

If one thinks that over 35 film and photography enthusiasts touch only on the lyrical and romantic aspects of Bangladesh one has to think twice. Yask Desai, coming to Dhaka, has taken innumerable shots of the Narayangang coastal people. His aim was to present child labour, overworked and underpaid women, poor labourers and small traders on the coast.

Today the impoverished country, "Golden Bengal" has its euphoria of a free country slowly running out with the sands of time. Desai spending time on boats, resting on the Buriganga banks, tries to capture in his warm, mellow, sepia prints the faces of the driven and dedicated honest labourers of Bangladesh. For Desai, these images are much more meaningful than the places and people that his lens has captured in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh (India), where the pace of living is much more mechanised; and where industrialisation has ruined nature with much more dramatic impact.

Staying many times in Dhaka -- and visiting the hinterlands of the metropolis -- to examine and record at will, tasting the spicy food and enjoying the repartee and camaraderie from all walks of life, he learns of the better aspects of Muslim culture -- where a visitor is considered a blessing. For an Aussie this is something new -- when 9/11 has created a cloud of misconception of eastern cultures.

Few pause to reexamine the Renaissance and the Romantic imagination of Europe. It is the documentaries and photo exhibitions -- along with dedicated focus of the media -- which will, in future, promise hope to fast fading earth inhabitants. Preservation of habitat, could never be boring or blasé. Desai's sepia photos, over thirty in all, at Drik Gallery -- sponsored by the Australian High Commission -- is an exhibition with a purpose. Beginning on March 18 and ending on March 24, 'The Dockyard' was no doubt, a feast for photography buffs.


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