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Bangladeshi Cartoon

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Cartooning in Bangladesh, or for that matter in the Indian subcontinent, cannot be precisely dated. When people call cartooning in the global context, they readily think about the Punch magazine which started coming out in 1841 although the term and its use dated back to the Middle Ages, being applied to preparatory drawing for a piece of art. In its modern senses, humorous illustrations in magazines and newspapers attested in the 19th century and comic strips attested in the early 20th century, cartooning came to this part of the world at the hands of the English people, with people of the subcontinent later picking it up. Cartoons, mostly political, began appearing in some English-owned newspapers such as Bengal Harkara and Indian Gazette in the 1850 but after the publication of the satirical magazine Punch, Fun and the Pall Mall Gazette, burgeoning publishers in Indian started to wake up to the trend, with the English-owned Delhi Sketch Book, lasting for seven years till the uprising of 1857. Partha Mitter is credited with publishing the first ‘Indian’ cartoon in Amrita Bazar Patrika in May 1872 as the periodical was India-owned and in an Indian language. Later two more periodicals of cartoons, Basantaka (1874–1875) and Panchananda (1878–1883) were published in Bengali. Some famous cartoonists of the subcontinent who worked for the last half of the past century were Abu Abraham,
R.K.LAXMAN
R.K.LAXMAN
R.K.LAXMAN
R.K.LAXMAN
MARIO MIRANDA
MARIO MIRANDA
RK Laxman, who brought out The Illustrated Weekly of India, and Mario Miranda. When it comes to the land that now constitutes Bangladesh, Kazi Abul Quasem, who assumed the name of Dopeyaja in the cartooning world, first had his work published in the periodical Saugat in 1937. His works also got in print in Mohammadi, Bichitra, Daily Azad and some other magazines and periodicals; his work in the magazine Sainik (Soldier) captioned “Haraph Khedao Andolan” (Chase the Letters Movement) published in 1952 earned him
KAZI ABUL KASHEM
KAZI ABUL KASHEM
Haraph Khedao Andolan by Kazi Abul Quasem, 1952.
Haraph Khedao Andolan by Kazi Abul Quasem, 1952.
a place in political cartooning here as the 1952 language movement later culminated into the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. During Bangladesh’s war for independence, ‘Patua’ Quamrul Hassan in a cartoon captioned ‘Annihilate these demons,’ one of the remarkable cartoons in Bangladesh’s history, portrayed General Yahya Khan as a demon. Another of his cartoons, captioned ‘The country is now in the grip of the most
QUAMRUL HASSAN
QUAMRUL HASSAN
brazen-faced man,’ stirred the cartooning world. When the West Pakistan ruling class tried to impose Urdu as the official language on the people of East Pakistan in the late 1940s and the early 1950s, several artists such as Murtaza Basheer, Bijan Chwodhury, Aminul Islam, Quayyum Chowdhury Abdur Razzaq and Imdad Hossain did some posters in cartooning. Gradually quite a number of people started doing cartoons against the
MURTAZA BASHIR
MURTAZA BASHIR
AMINUL ISLAM
AMINUL ISLAM
BIJON CHOWDHURY
BIJON CHOWDHURY
QUYYUM CHOWDHURY
QUYYUM CHOWDHURY
IMDAD HAQUE
IMDAD HAQUE
repression on the Bengalis by the West Pakistan rulers. Qayyum Chowdhury, who assumed the penname of Chouka, Kalam Mahmud as Titu, Rafiqun Nabi as Ranabi, who created the character of the benchmark street urchin called Tokai (gleaner) in the late 1970s, were the ones, to name a few. There were others like Azizur Rahman, who used to do cartoons under the penname of Aroop, Nazrul and Tofazzar Hossain, who had to embrace imprisonment for his work. Cartoonists who earned names in the 1970s and the 1980s are Asiful Huda, Syed Enayet Hossain and Shishir Bhattarcharya, who was noted
ISHTIAQ HOSSAIN
ISHTIAQ HOSSAIN
AHSAN HABIB
AHSAN HABIB
KAZI KHALEED ASHRAF
KAZI KHALEED ASHRAF
for his cartooning against the regime of Hussain Muhammad Ershad, and Ahsan Habib, who along with his peers, brought out the most noted magazine Unmad, the Bengali for Mad, in May 1978; the magazine still runs to print every month although it had its prime time in the mid-1980s, with its focus being mainly on society and filmdom. Almost all daily newspapers worthy of the name now publishes cartoons on front pages; almost all Bengali newspapers run cartoon sections or bring out fun supplements which are full of cartoons.
© Written by: Mehedi Haque
English write up by Abu Jar M Akkas