Md Saifuddin Al Quaderi
The exhibition celebrating 40 years of Bangladesh’s most popular humour magazine Unmad was opened to all on July 5th at the Drik Gallery. The man behind its satirical existence, Editor of Unmad and Adviser of Bangladesh Cartoonist Association, Ahsan Habib inaugurated the programme where friends, fans and humor lovers were present. The exhibition ended on 9th July. Among the guests were — Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy, founder of Cartoon People, Morshed Mishu, Lead artist in Endingscene.com, Bappi, cartoonist of Unamd, and many more prominent cartoonist and illustrators.
Walking through the doors of Drik Gallery’s exhibition hall, Lalon and Joler Gaan songs filled the room and the walls displayed four decades of Unmad-ness through paintings, drawings, electronic arts and more. The icon of the magazine, a boy with a crazy grin, filled Unmad readers with nostalgia. Various work like illustrations, special issues, and pieces done by famous cartoonists and illustrators were on display which gave off cheerful vibes.
The ample presence of 3 dimensional cartoons, live sessions of caricature and framed art works provided comic relief to the audience. Visitors of all ages seemed to enjoy the pleasurable chaos at the exhibition. On the second floor however, there was a different scenario, much like that of a happening party. A big mirror ball hung from the ceiling, a smoke machine was used and a few singers were performing live songs, all of which provided a very different outlook to the artistic exhibitions.
In the centre of the room were few people with art boards and sharpies drawing live caricatures of people at their request. For many of the visitors, this was what Unmad was all about, caricatures and nonsensical cartoons which made you laugh out loud for hours. The drawings seemed to never stop and the cartoonists were pouring their hearts into their works.
The unconventionality of the exhibition didn’t end there, the most eye catching of the items on display was a toilet seat named ‘Unmadasan’ or the ‘throne of the mad’ in Bangla. Who could have thought a toilet seat used like a throne could bring so much joy?! Flocks of visitors were taking selfies and enjoying the madness to its fullest.
According to Adib Reza Rongon, an aspiring cartoonist, “Unmad has always been the same since the beginning of its creation. The fan base keeps increasing and the magazine itself always brings up modern ideas. In this way it has been able to maintain a consistency and also manage to attract newer generations of cartoonists.”
The exhibition was however not entirely based on mirth and quirkiness, on one corner of the exhibition hall were framed displays of Morshed Mishu’s Global Happiness Challenge illustrations which depicted the real photographs of death, a misery in the ongoing struggles in the Middle East, with bright colorful illustrations of how the scenarios should have been. This was a different portrayal of the ruined childhoods of many due to war.
The longest running cartoon magazine of South Asia, (bet a lot of you did not know it!) Unmad started on its path of humour and satire in May 1978 with Kazi Khaled Ashraf and Ishtiaq Hossain along with Saiful Haque and Ilias Khan. Ahsan Habib joined the team from the second session. The first amateur issue of the magazine was an instant hit among readers of the country and ever since, Unmad has not stopped amusing us.
Md Saifuddin Al Quaderi