Deaths of three cultural figures in December

Shihab Sarkar | Published: December 27, 2018 21:12:17 | Updated: December 27, 2018 21:14:21


Amjad Hossain, Anwar Hossain and Saidul Anam Tutul

The deaths of three brilliant figures in the country's field of the arts in a gap of little over a fortnight is hard to endure --- especially on the part of those who are engaged in the allied branches of creativity. The three geniuses whom the nation lost in last December were Amjad Hossain (1942- Dec 14, 2018), Anwar Hossain (1948-Dec 01, 2018) and Saidul Anam Tutul (1950-December 18, 2018). Amjad Hossain had been a middle-class household name for his popular movies and individual TV plays, especially his Eid dramas, for over four decades.

Anwar Hossain stood out with his passion-filled still photographs and his immense contribution to cinematography in the country's filmdom. Saidul Anam Tutul could scathingly prove his enviable genius for film editing. He also showed his flair for producing plays and other programmes for television. His lone directorial venture 'Adhiar', a movie on a peasant rebellion in early Bangladesh, won wide and generous critical acclaim. Both Anwar Hossain and Saidul Anam Tutul studied at the Film and Television Institute of Pune, India, before they entered their respective fields professionally.

Death is universal. None can avoid its cold touch in one or another stage of their lives. But deaths at a premature age make people speechless, filling them with bereavement and a deep void. If one believes in humans being part of a great and unfathomable design, he or she will accept such deaths stoically. They have to, as all lives on this earth are destined to make an exit, today or tomorrow. Deaths at a ripe old age fill one with plaintiveness and pathos. But not those that haul a person away before they begin to be viewed as old enough. The three talented sons whom the nation lost in last December were linked by a common thread: they were born to serve some special branches of the arts. Thus the sudden death of youngish Amjad Hossain at 76 was hard to believe. He passed away on December 14 while undergoing treatment at a Bangkok hospital.  A senior film director mastering a unique style of his own, Hossain's emergence in the Bangladesh filmdom coincided with its shaping in the 1960s.

Although Amjad Hossain later carved out a distinctive place in the cinema of Bangladesh as a director, he started his career as an actor --- a mild comedian to be precise. His maiden film was 'Harano Din', directed by Mustafiz in 1961. It was followed by 'Dharapat' (1963) and a few others. Although Hossain entered the Dhaka film world five years after the release of the country's first feature film 'Mookh O Mukhosh' in 1956, he can claim the credit of being one of the founders of Bangladesh cinema. His name is pronounced along with our film world architects. They include Mohiuddin, Salah Uddin, Zahir Raihan, Fateh Lohani, Mustafiz, Sadeq Khan et al. Besides, he found Khan Ataur Rahman, Kazi Khaleq, Enam Ahmed, Shabnam and Sujata as his fellow artistes. In consideration of his multi-faceted acting and directorial genius, with a career spanning 60 long years, Hossain could be termed an individual institution. After a gap in his sporadic acting and directorial career, he entered the scene with a bang --- making mid- and big-budget films on after another. This phase began with 'Noyonmoni'(1976), an instant box office hit. Amjad Hossain did not belong to the group of highly serious makers. Led by Zahir Raihan, this fraternity had all along nurtured the passion for making pure cinema employing the international movie language and techniques.

Amjad Hossain chose a middle-course, where message and entertainment coalesced into one another. In spite of this style, he could distinguish himself by making a dozen of clean entertainers. Those were made in the style of Kolkata's Torun Majumdar or Sushil Majumdar or Mumbai's Hrishikesh Mukherjee or Basu Bhattacharya. Hossain felt that his forte was something different from that in vogue in Bangladesh in the mid-70s to the 1990s. Undaunted by the spectre of cold audience response, he began his eventful movie voyage with 'Golapi Ekhon Trene' (1978). It proved a smashing hit. Amjad Hossain did not have to turn back. In the following years the director, in a burst of creative trance, made a series of popular films. Those included 'Sundori' (1979), 'Jonmo Thekey Jolchhi' (1983), and 'Bhat Dey' (1984). A lavish directorial style of Amjad Hossain could be singled out in his maiden 'Golapi'. Few of the local directors could reach nowhere near him in this innovative style of film making. Despite being an aesthetically committed film maker, Zahir Raihan also had to compromise on his creative integrity by making multi-starrer big budget flicks in the 1960s. In order not to let himself ruin financially, he brought to the screen extravaganzas like 'Sangam' the first-ever colour film in erstwhile Pakistan, and cinemascope 'Bahana' --- both in Urdu, and 'Behula'. All these films bore the unique stamps of the commercial genius of Zahir Raihan.

Almost like Zahir Raihan, Amjad Hossain, too, nurtured a flair for writing. In between his film-making ventures, he would pick his pen and papers to continue to pursue his writing career. He has over a dozen collections of fictions and short stories. Apart from a number of National Film Awards and the Ekushey Padak, Amjad was honoured with the Bangla Academy Literary Award.

Compared to the eventful career of Amjad Hossain, those of photographer Anwar Hossain and movie editor & film society activist Saidul Anam Tutul did not enjoy mass public exposures. Those were rather low-key ones. But on the count of creative talent the two displayed their utmost level of excellence in their respective fields. To the youths aspiring to pursue 'art photography', Anwar Hossain eventually appeared to them as a Guru. Anwar's was a highly modern style of composition --- no matter if his focus is on a landscape or a human face. Many photography critics place him along with the pioneering Bangladeshi photographers like M. A. Beg, and the younger Nawazish Ahmed. A graduate in architecture from BUET, Dhaka, Anwar did not pick the discipline as career after passing. Rather he expressed his ardent passion for still photography and cinematography. Shortly after getting his Bachelor's in architecture, he enrolled in Pune Film and Television Institute, India, and got a diploma in cinematography from there. Anwar did not waste much time before becoming a professional cinematographer. Photography had been with him throughout his life. He received the National Film Award for cinematography five times for as many movies. The list included 'Surja Dighal Bari', 'Emiler Goenda Bahini' and 'Laal Shalu'. The photographer at one stage of his career had left for France, became a citizen of that country and made occasional visits to Dhaka. He died in the Bangladesh capital on December 01. Anwar's photo album 'A Ballad of Bangladesh' records the land's nature, socio-political and metaphysical realities along with its people in different professions with artistic empathy and sensitivity.

Of the three talented creative persons, Saidul Anam Tutul was the youngest. He was just 68 when he left this world. After doing graduation in film editing at the Pune Institute, he returned to Bangladesh to get fully engaged in cinema and television productions. He received the 1979 National Film Award for film editing for his work in 'Surja Dighal Bari'. The film won the award in 8 categories in total. Apart from editing, it received the awards for best film, best director, best cinematography, best actress, best screenplay, and best child artists (2).

Both Anwar Hossain and Saidul Anam Tutul joined the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. Coincidentally, they died in the month of victory. To sum up, with December being the last month of the year, all deaths make one saddened. With the beginning of a new Gregorian year only three days away, their deaths have deprived them of demonstrating their newer bursts of creativity. Those who have been left to mourn these deaths will feel the pangs that keep growing in a void like this.

shihabskr@ymail.com

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