After going through a horrible 2020 and a trying 2021 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic which shelved many significant and vibrant events around the world and in Bangladesh as well, the cultural arena was finally able to return to its total normalcy in 2022. Throughout the year, the cultural and entertainment arena moved to in-person events after being confined to virtual festivities for the last two years; a handful of significant events and incidents took place across the country, and a number of celebrities left the world. This article is a compilation of all these abovementioned happenings, as a flashback of 2022, in loving memories of the non-virtual year.
The year 2022 has been, perhaps, the most eventful year for the Bangladeshi cinema industry - in comparison to recent years. In January, the nail-biting seventeenth biennale edition of the Bangladesh Film Artistes' Association (BFAA) election was held, resulting in veteran silver screen actor Ilias Kanchan getting elected as the newest President for the term between 2022 and 2024. The talk of the town was, however, the position of the General Secretary. Actor Zayed Khan was declared the winner of the post after he defeated actress Nipun Akter in a close contest. Nipun refused the result and took the fight to the court, filing an appeal before the Appellate Division. In March, the High Court cleared the way for Zayed to serve as the GS of the BFFA after striking down the decision of the Election Appeal Board of the association. After months of back-and-forth battle between the two, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) finally cleared the way for actress Nipun Akter to serve as the General Secretary, in November.
Amid every film released this year, two Dhallywood films - 'Hawa' and 'Poran' - were the most notable and successful films in 2022, breaking records everywhere. The Raihan Rafi directed 'Poran' starring Sariful Razz, Bidya Sinha Mim and Yash Rohan and inspired by the infamous Rifat-Minni case in Barishal, competed against another much-talked-about film, the Ananta Jalil starrer and produced 'Din - The Day' on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha this year. While the latter faced controversies regarding the false claim of Ananta about the film's actual budget and an international-level clash between the Iranian director of the film Morteza Atashzamzam and Ananta himself, 'Poran' was acclaimed by both the audiences and the multiplex and single-screen owners.
However, the biggest blockbuster in recent years was none other than the Mejbaur Rahman Sumon-directed highly acclaimed film 'Hawa'. The Chanchal Chowdhury-Nazifa Tushi-Shariful Razz starrer film garnered a massive audience response across the country and broke revenue records in both home and beyond, garnered a great buzz on mainstream and social media for its catchy songs like 'Shada Shada Kala Kala' and 'E Hawa', brought the glory of being the most anticipated release in the USA and India and enthralled the moviegoers almost everywhere, after two devastating business years for Dhallywood.
The cinema industry also observed other major releases this year including Siam Ahmed starrer 'Shaan' and 'Operation Sundarbans', Shakib Khan's 'Golui' and 'Bidrohi', Sariful Razz-Bidya Sinha Mim and Siam starrer 'Damal', Jaya Ahsan's 'Beauty Circus' and more. Mim, Nazifa Tushi and Puja Cherry were the breakout actresses in the industry this year, while Shabnam Bubly, Apu Biswas, Pori Moni and Barsha remained in controversies for their comments and fights throughout 2022. The entire film fraternity was seen unified in support of acclaimed filmmaker Mostafa Sarwar Farooki, and his battle against the Censor Board for the release of his much-anticipated film 'Shonibar Bikel' (Saturday Afternoon).
In summation, this year was one of the most successful and eventful years in the history of Dhallywood, mostly for good reasons and for bringing back audiences in theatres after the devastating 2020 and a challenging 2021.
OTT, Television and Web
The entire 2022 has been a golden year for the entire OTT industry, a rising landscape in Bangladesh following the footsteps of global icons such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar, Apple TV+ and more. Carrying forward the successful efforts from the pandemic-induced 2020-2021, this year the platforms namely Chorki, HoiChoi, Bioscope, Binge and others brought out several OTT blockbusters which enthralled the viewers on their personal screens. Seasoned and popular actors including Intekhab Dinar, Afran Nisho, Chanchal Chowdhury, Mosharraf Karim, Apurba, Ziaul Haque Polash, Pritom Ahmed, Mehazabien Chowdhury, Nazifa Tushi, Tasnia Farin and others received profound success and critical acclaim for their amazing performances on different dramas and web series. Content makers and directors such as Nuhash Humayun, Shihab Shaheen, Tanim Nur, Syed Ahmed Shawki, Ashfaq Nipun, Raihan Rafi, Vicky Zahed, Amitabh Reza and others have enthralled the audiences throughout the year with content such as 'Kaiser', 'Pet Kata Shaw', 'Karagar', 'Syndicate', 'Bodh', 'Sabrina', 'Punorjonmo' and others. 'Shaaticup' from Chorki was a breakout content of the year, directed by Mohammad Touqir Islam which narrated a crime thriller featuring Rajshahi's local dialect and a cast of 137 actors for its eight episodes.
Acclaimed young filmmaker Nuhash Humayun, however, was the standout filmmaker this year for his two web content, glamorizing the 'Horror' genre. His web series 'Pett Kata Shaw' by Chorki starring Shohel Mondol, Shirin Akter Shila, Afzal Hossain, Chanchal Chowdhury, Pritom Hasan, Masuda Khan, Novera Rahman and more garnered massive appraisal from audiences and critics for being the modern revival of the mysterious and lurid plots of traditional Bengali folk tales told from generation to generation, earning him an official selection for the upcoming 52nd edition of the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) under its Harbor section. Nuhash's other major project of 2022 representing the same genre, 'Moshari', earned him two awards at two 'Oscar Qualifying' Film Festivals (HollyShorts Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival). Earlier this year he got signed with the Hollywood agencies Anonymous Content and Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and later he made the Halloween special dark-comedy 'Foreigners Only' from the global OTT platform Hulu, as its first Bangladeshi content maker. Nuhash's web film 'Moshari' also brought global attention when Oscar and Emmy Awards-winning actor Riz Ahmed and filmmaker-comedian Jordan Peele became the executive producers, and also became too close to winning the first-ever Oscar for Bangladesh.
The music industry observed a comparatively successful 2022, in comparison to the pandemic-induced 2020 and 2021. Returning to the full normalcy from the virtual events and concerts, this year was warmly greeted with the maiden edition of Coke Studio Bangla, produced and curated by the majestic singer-composer-music producer Shayan Chowdhury Arnob. Coke Studio Bangla Season One featured a total of nine exclusive fusion tracks and two promotional songs, hosted a historic concert and showcased a handful of breakout stars including Animes Roy, Rituraj Baidya, Sanzida Mahmood Nandita, Ripon Kumar (Boga Taleb), Kaniz Khandaker Mitu, Makhon Mia, Rap group Jalali Set and Indian-Bengali music stars including Madhubanti Bagchi, Sunidhi Nayak and Soumyadeep Murshidabadi. The nine songs - based on the emotions of celebration, devotion, love, craze, reminiscence, compassion, wedding, the fascination of romance and aspiration for freedom, also featured prominent and popular Bangladeshi singers including Pantha Kanai, Momotaz Begom, Mizan Rahman, Nigar Sumi, Tahsan Khan, Bappa Mazumder, Samina Chowdhury, Dilshad Nahar Kona, and the maestro himself, Arnob. The season was captivating and successful according to the audiences, and everyone is looking forward to the upcoming Season Two in 2023.
After being shelved for two years in a row, concerts have explored the return of festivities this year by music lovers. A handful of concerts rocked the fans throughout the entire year both at home and abroad, including the historic Golden Jubilee Bangladesh concert in May at the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York City in the United States, featuring Bangladeshi band Chirkutt and the world-famous band Scorpions. Popular Bangladeshi band Shironamhin's final concert of their year-long silver jubilee celebrations was held back in September. 'Nodi Rocks,' 'Headbangers Paradise phase 1 and 2', 'November Rain Volume 2', Bappa Mazumder's first-ever solo concert 'ALIVE Experience Chapter 1', 'Ei Somoy', 'Mixtape Vol 1', 'Fuad Live' and 'Dhaka Rock Fest 3.0' was some of the most popular and successful concerts this year, featuring celebrated bands including Nagar Baul, Warfaze, Chirkutt, Artcell, Shironamhin, AvoidRafa, Aurthohin, Meghdol, Arbovirus, Cryptic Fate, Sonar Bangla Circus and more. Most of the concerts were held at the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB), while others took place at venues including the Army Stadium and Liberation War Museum, to name a few.
Internationally acclaimed West Bengal singer-lyricist-composer Kabir Suman enthralled his countless fans in Dhaka with three concerts, back in October this year. Bassbaba Sumon, the frontman of Aurthohin and one of the leading bassists in Bangladesh returned to the concerts this year after recovering from devastating health issues for several years, and Aurthohin launched their album 'Phoenixer Diary 1' this week from the Dhaka Rock Fest 3.0, while the longtime Arbovirus vocalist Sufi Maverick retired from the band after the Nodi Rocks concert in September. World-famous sensational Romanian singer Otilia Brumă enthralled Dhaka audiences in her first-ever live concert in Bangladesh in July.
Overall, 2022 was an eventful year in the Bangladeshi music scene and listeners-concertgoers are looking forward towards a great year ahead, full of festivities.
Exhibitions and Festivals
Throughout the calendar year, a great number of local-international exhibitions and festivals were organized at different venues, namely Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA), Liberation War Museum (LWM), Dhaka University Faculty of Fine Art (DU FFA), Alliance Française de Dhaka (AFD), Bangladesh National Museum, Gallery Chitrak, EMK Centre, Gallery Kaya, Goethe Institut-Bangladesh, DrikPath Bhaban, Safiuddin Shilpalay, Gallery Cosmos and other venues in the capital. Asia's oldest and BSA's flagship festival, the 19th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh returned this year after being shelved three times due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. The 23rd edition of the Young Artists' Fine Arts Exhibition was another major event BSA held this year, along with a number of other significant exhibitions. The recently held eminent French photographer Anne de Henning's solo exhibition 'Witnessing History in the Making: Photographs by Anne de Henning' at LWM was a befitting tribute to the independence of Bangladesh and the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Drik's World Press Photo Exhibition 2022, and Gallery Chitrak's ongoing exhibition 'Sangram' (Struggle) featuring exclusive artworks of Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin, are some of the very recent and influential exhibitions in the city.
Gallery Cosmos, the philanthropic and artistic wing of Bangladeshi conglomerate Cosmos Group, has organised several exhibitions and art events throughout the year. The list of events includes 'The Passion of Drawing 1 and 2', a unique art exhibition celebrating International Women's Day 2022 - jointly organized with the Turkish Embassy in Dhaka; an exclusive group painting, photography, and sculpture exhibition titled "BRAVEHEART" on the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, an exclusive exhibition featuring Romanian artist-sculptor Alexandru Poteca and renowned Bangladeshi artist Maksuda Iqbal Nipa marking the 50 years of Diplomatic Relations between Romania and Bangladesh and the 104th Independence Day of Romania and more.
A number of local and international festivals were also held across the country in 2022, including the traditional Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF)'s 20th edition, the 8th Dhaka International Mobile Film Festival, the 15th International Children's Film Festival Bangladesh, BSA's National Dance Festival and Bangladesh Jatra Utsab, the 40th Jatiya Rabindra Sangeet Sammelan; Chhayanaut's traditional Bengali New Year celebration at the Ramna Batamul and its annual folk fest, Shuddha Sangeet Utsab, dance festival and seasonal odes; the Ganga Jamuna Cultural Festival 2022; Korean Film Festival 2022; Goethe-Institut Bangladesh's 17th edition of Short Export - Made in Germany 2022 and Science Film Festival 2022 - to name a few.
With the upcoming editions of the 10th Dhaka Lit Fest, 21st DIFF, 6th Dhaka Art Summit and a handful of other significant events, 2023 has already become a much-anticipated year for the arts and cultural arena.
Stars with the final adieus
Aside from major events, festivities and in-person celebrations across the country, the year 2022 will surely be remembered for taking away some of the most celebrated and iconic personalities from the cultural world. The list of celebrities includes many iconic superstars representing different fields; from the recently died football legend Pele to the "Nightingale of India"-famed singer Lata Mangeshkar; but the most shocking death the subcontinent and billions of Bollywood and Indian music fans had to witness, was the untimely death of popular Indian singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, fondly known to his fans as KK - who passed away on the night of May 31st, shortly after his live performance at the Nazrul Mancha auditorium in South Kolkata.
The list of eminent Bangladeshi cultural personalities who left this world in 2022 includes eminent artist-art educator, former Director of the Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University and former Director General of Bangladesh National Museum Professor Mahmudul Haque; popular espionage-thriller novel series Masud Rana-famed legendary Bangladeshi writer and publisher Qazi Anwar Hussain, renowned lyricist and astrologer Kausar Ahmed Chowdhury, legendary lyricist of numerous evergreen songs from the golden era of Bengali cinema KG Mostafa, "Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano" famed eminent lyricist, journalist, political analyst, columnist and writer Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, eminent actress and best known for playing the role of mother since 1976 in films and television dramas, Sharmili Ahmed; legendary Bangladeshi musician, film director, producer, lyricist and screenwriter Gazi Mazharul Anwar, Ekushey Padak-winning painter-art maestro Samarjit Roy Chowdhury, eminent dancer, choreographer and dance maestro Golam Mostofa Khan, renowned writer, television anchor and cultural personality Ali Imam and prominent fashion designer and Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh (FDCB) Vice President Emdad Hoque - just to name a few.
Many popular cultural personalities from the subcontinent have also breathed their lasts this year, including the famous Bollywood music composer-singer Bappi Lahiri, iconic Indian-Bengali playback singer Geetashree Sandhya Mukherjee, Indian dance legend Pandit Birju Maharaj, renowned Marathi thespian Vikram Gokhale, comedian Raju Srivastav and more.
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