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Shitesh continues a lost art form

Cultural Correspondent

Shitesh Kumar Sur paints a film banner. — Ali Hossain MintuShitesh Kumar Sur paints a film banner. — Ali Hossain Mintu

Once a busy film banner painter Shitesh Kumar Sur, 55, now occasionally paints portraits in his spare time at his fast food shop.
After the introduction of the digitally made banners, Shitesh had to leave the profession to earn for his family like many artisans did.
Since then, the passionate artisan paints film banners and portraits only for display.
Shitesh displayed his recent works at the craft exhibition at Nalinikanta Bhatta gallery of Bangladesh National Museum, along with 38 artistes who participated in the Setouchi International Art Festival.
In an interview with New Age Shitesh Kumar Sur shared about his recent visit to Setouchi International Art Festival and about the pains he endures for giving up his once profession as a banner painter.
‘This was my first visit to any foreign country. It was an amazing experience for me. The people there were very much interested in our works,’ said a delighted Shitesh.
As for Shitesh, he did not come into the art form deliberately; rather, circumstances forced him into the profession. He did not even see it as an art then, but just as his work.
In 1971, during the war of independence, Shitesh’s house was put on fire, which was an irrevocable loss for the family. That incident led the young Shitesh, in his adolescence, to work as a helping hand in an art publicity store where he had to do minor paintings on the film banners.
Shitesh began his job under the tutelage of Dilara Ahmed in Shilpi Art Publicity in the Old Dhaka. Within a year, Shitesh grew a passion for the work that lasts till date.
‘My first solo work was a poster of the then famous film Shesh Porichoy. I still remember I had to paint a reddish face of Nayak Raj Razzak,’ Shitesh told New Age.
From the early 1970S, Shitesh’s painted almost all the major heroes and heroines of Dhallywood till the mid 1990s, when the
digital poster/banner making took away the market in a sway.
‘As one can produce film banners and posters digitally in cheap rate, we did not get orders.  So, hardly any banner painter is found these days,’ Shitesh said nostalgically.
As the time is for digital development, Shitesh does not think that the old art form is a feasible form for survival or that it can resurface any time soon.
At the same time he also believes that the film banner painters can produce significant artworks as they have a distinctive style.




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