The Crazy Lover

Hand painted movie banners from Bangladesh

Crazy Lover. 12′ x 8′. Enamel paint on canvas. Hand painted by Sitesh Kumar Sur and team. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Bangla movies have always been popular and going to the cinema was until recently, one of the most popular forms of entertainment. High drama, plenty of song and dance and rags to riches stories were amongst the favourites and film stars were idolized. The advent of video has destroyed the industry and many cinema halls are empty and being converted into shopping malls. But people still remember the oldies and the film stars of old are still popular. Some have successfully entered politics.
These posters have been commissioned by photographer Shahidul Alam for a project where he will be taking portraits of ageing film stars using banners of films they were famous for, as the backdrops.

Night Club. 12′ x 8′. Enamel paint on canvas. Hand painted by Sitesh Kumar Sur and team. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

The painter Sitesh Kumar Sur was born in 8 April 1963 at Shakhari Bazar, located in the old part of Dhaka city. He studied up to class five. Shakhari Bazar had a high Hindu population and was particularly dangerous to live in during the liberation war. After liberation he started working at Shilpi Art Publicity doing odd errands where he learnt to paint. In 1985 he started his own painting business in a partnership named Maya Art Publicity eventually starting his own business in 1994-95 as Aka Art Publicity, also located at Shakhari Bazar. The business was running well, however the advent of large format digital printing (about seven years ago) ruined the business and the practice of hand painting has disappeared.

Khairun Shundori. 12′ x 8′. Enamel paint on canvas. Hand painted by Sitesh Kumar Sur and team. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Sitesh started other small businesses (fast food) alongside his painting business. He still loves hand painting and takes on special assignments if a client comes up with an order. It takes several days for him and his team to complete a movie banner, but knows that this art will not survive. He is married and has three daughters.

Rokte Bheja Bangladesh. 12′ x 8′ enamel paint on canvas. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World. Painting.

These 12′ x 8′ banners were commissioned by me, for use as a backdrop for a portrait series I am doing on the film stars

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.” His recent book “The Tide Will Turn” published by Steidl in 2020, is listed in New York Time’s ‘Best Art Books of 2020’. Alam received the “International Press Freedom Award” for 2020 from ‘The Committee to Protect Journalists’.

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