Keraniganj Dhaka 2005:The traditional boat race at bank of Dholesshori, Keraniganj 2006. Copy Right: Kabir Hossain
Project: River & Life
The river Isamoti flows by the place where I was born in the district of Munshiganj. Boatmen would scull down the river setting sails and towing. Fishermen would do fishing. The sight would fully engross me. I fell for the river since then. As I started taking photograph, my camera would move towards it whenever possible. I had chosen river as the focal point of my study on photography. Need for passing the course was added with my keen interest for it and every week I regularly started taking photos of it. Unlike my previous incoherent samplings, I began taking photos topic-wise in relation to each other. It was when the idea of crafting a photo documentary on river occurred to me.
Bangladesh, though a small country crisscrossed by rivers, many of their names are unknown. But there is no denying that alluvial soil carried down by these rivers has made our land fertile. The rivers, their tributaries, small creeks and canals have long been enriching our life, merging into our existence.
The sleek river, the one that makes my heart throb, comes into view like the stream it had been during my early years at school. The river that stretched like a snake had knee-level water during the Boishakh. Farmers set out at early dawn for the farmlands with their cattle, children would play on the sandy river basin, newly married girls get on board making for their fathers place; boat full of mangoes harboring to the bank and mango markets assembly—all compiled a story of natural lifestyle evolving around river and of people surrounding it.
Lives of uncountable fishermen are dependent on river. At times, the fleet of boats harbored along the riverbank unfolds the scenic life of nomadic river gypsies. Spiritualism and religion as well have a linkage to river. Many a Dervish, Fakir and Baul have hailed from this delta. The crowd flocking around their holy tomb on the river; the Baul (disciple of Lalon) performing songs around the country’s riversides and adjacent area; number of songs on rivers composed by Fakir, Baul and Shannyashi portray the scenario of a closer tie with the river. And rivers have long been inspiring many a writer, poet, and their impression reflects through uncountable stories, poems and songs written around.
River is rhythmic, mysterious, changing its appearance now and then. The same river looks different in the dawn than it does in the dusk. Its air changes with the seasons, its color changes with the sky; it goes mad playing with colors. Rowing competition (Noukaa Baaich) and different river-bound festivals make it more radiant adding their own glamour to it. Its look varies as it flows through the plain land from when it dances down the mountains.
A friend and a foe; river comes as both in our life. Many fellows lose everything owing to its devastating erosion and bank-slide. It causes deluge as both its banks overflow. Disaster like cyclones aided by river, lashes upon humans wreaking a devastating havoc. Story of river will remain incomplete if her destructive nature is not considered. Nonetheless, river is blessings for us. It contributes in trade and commerce thus enriching our economic life.
So when I find the river, once awesome, now on the verge of demise, a deep ache engulfs my heart. The scenario of vast sandy riverbed with its streams changing course or growing thinner day by day alarms me gravely. What if all the great rivers vanish off some day! I frantically keep on taking as much of photos as I can to smother the growing fear in me, trying to find solace thinking I may be able to keep them alive this way. If not succeeding to help them survive, at least my photos would cater to grow deep sympathy for them in minds of the millions or retell the children how they looked once. May be these photos would help the rivers live, at least in these frames.
Born on June 15, 1981 in Doshorparha village of Munshiganj.
Kabir Hossain spent his childhood and boyhood days in his village home and Gandaria locality in old Dhaka city. The river Ichhamoti cradling Kabir’s village like a mother also helped build his psyche.
Since childhood, rudimentary awareness of nature’s aesthetic facets roused Kabir’s attention and curiosity. His eyes were also gradually trained to discover the special and generally missed out details of objects—both living and otherwise.
After taking his first formal lessons in photography at Chanchal Mahmud’s School of Photography, Kabir seriously took up photography as a profession in full swing in 2002. He then studied at Pathhshala (South Asian Institute of Photography) and earned his graduate’s diploma.
Pathhshala afforded Kabir opportunities to learn the nitty-gritty of photography while interacting with famous photographers from home and abroad.
In 2003, Bangladesh Photographic Society hosted Kabir’s first ever solo exhibition at the national gallery. He participated next in a group ‘photo fair-3’ held at the Drik Gallery.
The first international exposition of Kabir’s works titled Rivers and Life was held at the tenth documentary photo festival in 2009 in Miyazaki, Japan. Kabir Hossain is currently a senior photojournalist at the daily Prothom Alo.
Kabir’s photographic heartland lies in documentaries—all kinds. He is now engaged in making documentaries based on photographs taken on four Bangladeshi themes—rivers, kabadi, the mystique of humanity and nature in Lalon Shah’s philosophy. Nature and people are the leitmotifs of Kabir’s works.