Hall of Fame
Dhaka Opera - I
Documentary 30th March, 2017

I have to pause for a while every time, at the moment, in time when resemblance is about to retain its relation with streets and people in this (old) city of heritage. Its universality unleashes its development which is growing in proportion to my age.

I grew up in this city, thousands of times passing through those streets, sometimes stopping for a while with nothing to do but wonder to see the intervals of changes in every few kilometers. It appears that if the intervals are cropped from the whole cityscape, those parts, certainly, seem not harmonious to the definition of city anymore. To me, Dhaka has not become quite urbanized as one can sense their presence into the ambiguity of rudimentary sketch of the city, thus, by crossing those intervals with the scenario of small town tin shaded tea stall right behind a supermall, then at some distance a locality with rustic surroundings. I can see a perfect continuous alteration of otherness into the citizen’s mechanical and organic solidarities. Row of small tiny houses, slums behind beautiful high-rise buildings is quite common. One of the urges of my undertaking to photograph Dhaka is the people who live in those intervals of progress, their intimations as well as interactions.

To show my curiosity over those busy people with their curiosity on a fruit seller about how he would adroitly chop cucumber or pineapple while they’ve rushed around him; and similar rush, of about fifty to sixty people, can be seen before the construction crane, (specially) it wonders me when they move their neck with crane’s arm while it goes up and down; my curiosity over those nervous eyes which have just stepped on Sadarghat launch terminal for the first time unknowingly.

Though yet many structures from colonial period to 1950s and 1970s’ exist here, pale, abandoned, as a witness of era, may be stood as the sculptural entity of that time in this same yet changing landscape. At This time, it seems very important for me to document these changes of the city and its surroundings. Among so many other things, most certainly, peoples’ lives are changing; their dialects, their clothes, their eye contacts, shoes, the way they walk and even their hairstyle have been chased by the sake of being trendy.

Beyond that, I’ve drawn to the moment that express the ingenuity of the situation, the people who are not always aware of their gesture and attire, things that we all do but somehow manage to ignore or hide from others, and the overall simplicity that this city carries in its realm. Sometimes people hang at the suspended cables over the streets, just to repair it without using any ladder, sometimes the broken divider between the street and sidewalk is the only way people find shortcut to go to their destinations. This is rather, to me, the nexus of entire not-on-this-earth like experience of streets and its people in which the transformation happened, which is not just free from fundamental nominalism but also its elements are inseparable from the fact that changes happen on the streets in relation to the changes of individual lives.

It is been half a decade I am roaming around the city and yet there remained many places to explore and document glimpses of life. Every time I walked down these streets most of the time it offers me such Kafkaesque moments. Those moments makes Dhaka as a museum of discrete charm of urbanity. You are welcome too!

About Photographer

Rahul Talukdar
Rahul Talukdar

Rahul Talukder is a documentary photographer born in Bangladesh in 1991. In 2011, he joined Pathshala to study photography. Since then, he started working on different socio-political and cultural issues.

In 2014, he won World Press Photo Award in the Spot News story category for his story 'Collapse of Rana Plaza'. He also won Sony World Photography Awards 2015 Professional category - Conceptual, Magnum Photos 30 Under 30, 4th Lumix Foto Festival - Freelens Award & PX3 Prix de la Photographie. He has been awarded as the highly commended in Ian Parry Scholarship 2014, Runner up in the Alexia Foundation Student Grant 2015 and finalist in the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards - Student Focus 2014. His works have appeared in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Sunday Times and many others international media.