When I think of Kolkata first thing strikes me that it’s history. Once upon a time, Kolkata was the window of the world to the Indian subcontinent. First Armenian then Portages, Dutch and then British came to this city and entangled deliberately with this city for business, trade, and political purpose. So, Kolkata boasts for its enriched cultural and historical heritage. Kolkata was established back in 1690 and proceeded through the chronicles of British rule in India. In 1773, the city was declared to be the Capital of British India that continued till 1911 as the British administration and trade were mainly operated from Kolkata so that the British likely developed the city on their own taste and elegance which also became the hub of leading intellectual advancement excelling literature, art, culture, science and the budding ground of Indian freedom struggle.
Unfolding the beauty of Kolkata:
Since, Some say “city of the cities”, others say, “the city of joy”, I say “city of nostalgia”. I always feel so attached to this city as it was culturally developed long ago and played a significant role as the capital since the British period and made a deep impact on the politics of the Indian subcontinent. When I first crossed the border from Jessore and entered into Kolkata, I felt why I need to show my passport as It is just 127km away from my home town Jessore! Certainly, partition left a lasting scar and pathetic memories in the mind of millions living in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. There are uncountable reasons that I fell in love with Kolkata and also an interesting story behind my love needs to tell. Before the independence of Bangladesh, my father would take the cycle and ride from Jessore to Benapol first and he took rest in his relative’s house for sometimes on the way to Kolkata and also halted to Bonga just for watching cinema. Finally, he would reach Kolkata after a day-long journey and stay the night over there. He used to share me lot of his enchanting memories with this city. Since then, this city has been pulling me away and rolling me on thousand times.
Nowadays, Kolkata is felt like a fusion of old charm with a new ambiance. The city is going through transition although the city has so much to offer. Kolkata has always been a favorite place for the book’s lover and history lover, in addition, it also offers photographers a wide array of clicking-elements in everywhere. Streets of Kolkata are worth looking into the deep inside. From Tagore house- Jorashako Thakurbari to Victoria memorial hall- India’s one of the finest structures, college street, the marble house, everything makes me amazed with sheer happiness. The architectural beauty of these structures reminds me the victorian classic architecture, resembling London’s Burlington house and their contemporary structures. Apart from this, classical Prinsep Ghat with colonnaded porch, the majestic Bidhasagar bridge over the serene Hoogly river pushes me away to walk on the memory lane of history as well as to experience a vibrant cultural hub.
Dom dom to New Garia and Chowrongi lane to the esplanade, everywhere seems that Sattajit, Bomkesh, Neel lohito- the characters of the distinguished authors- are all existed and mixed up in the air of Kolkata. Deep down the fantasy, it feels like they are still walking on the lane of Kolkata and debating over in the coffee house, and on passing by I get stuck with famous poet Budhadev Basu!! When I sit in the coffee house, walk on the narrow lane of Kolkata seeing around European, Goethe Architecture still they remind me old and classical Kolkata. The tun tun sound of the tram, taste of varer tea, hand puller jostle Rikshaw, and the scent of old movie theater like Elite take me back in the time of British-ruled Kolkata.
The first visit, yet love forever:
The first time when I visited Kolkata was in 2000 while I was studying at Dhaka University and then I also saw tram first time reminded me its majestic history saying it was operated first by Paris and its southern region company in 1879! During this time, the tram was run not by steam or electricity rather was run by horse! This tram also brought the memory back of great poet Jibonando Das’s suicide beneath the tram line! Anyway, the presidency college, college street, and majestic Victoria memorial hall overwhelmed me completely at first sight. The Saint paul’s cathedral and the adjacent massive Maidan also got me surprised with their largeness and unique architectural beauty. I strangely feel that, maybe I had lived in this city once in my previous life, otherwise why I get nostalgic seeing the streets, the grand avenues, ancient buildings, the cultured life of people. All these actually carried my mind and soul away in a great deal.
Neo-urbanization vs old Kolkata:
As time progressed, ancient structures got dilapidated and demolished, though the government imposed strong restrictions over demolishing these historical structures and put pressure on preserving these historical buildings. Despite these efforts, new construction replacing the old illegally hasn’t stopped. With every passing year, the sign of industrialization and its harsh reality appear stark in Kolkata’s city life. As a result, massive construction and building new town alongside the old one are underway. Although, lots of change to see: Brand new shops like Quest Mall, South city mall, and brand new lavish town like new town grown up in Kolkata resulting new complexion of this city, the main charm of this city lies in its old complexion. Still when I walk along the streets can smell the old days flavor regardless of bustling new shopping centers and dazzling lights around.
Kolkata, first into my frame:
For personal work and medical purpose, I had to visit this city frequently from 2015 to 2018. During this time I had the opportunity to know more about this beautiful city. I started to capture Kolkata first in 2015 with a small camera sony nex and after that, I came here 4/ 5 times between 2016- 2018. So, during this period I started to see Kolkata through my frame. From 2017-2018 I captured all the snaps by Sony A7II. However, I saw a lot of stunning shots from my teacher- world-renowned Photographer Gmb Akash- on Kolkata. Since then I had a great interest in noted places of Kolkata like Maidan, Prinsep Ghat, Hoogly Bridge, Victoria Memorial, etc. I was thrilled to explore the maidan in the foggy environment and exulted to see the horses grazing through, cricketers, morning walker’s in the mystic maidan. The Prinsep Ghat and the dense looming clouds floating over the Hoogly river drew a special place in my heart and I ended up capturing this mesmerizing view.
Exploring Kolkata continues:
Having taken a thousand captures in different locations, still exploring various lanes at Kolkata in the dawn light simply gives me much pleasure for photography. From street to Bazar, museum to iconic architecture, historical places, and street people pushed me, curious me and enthralled me to capture the magical Kolkata. I search the unheard story and long shrouded soul of an aesthetic and historical Kolkata. I really owe to a great deal to this city of Joy.
About Md. Arifuzzaman
From my childhood, I was a big fan of movies. I have grown up with movies, books, plenty of books and they made a deep impact on my mind. In my childhood, I wanted to be a filmmaker but I never thought I would be a Photographer. Whenever I felt gloomy, I used to look outside of the widow and my sight was far away. I thought the world is beautiful. Deep inside I have cravings of the landscape, lifestyle, festivals. In my childhood, My uncle used to bring beautiful view cards on the European landscape from time to time. I saw the pine, I saw the birch are frozen on the unimaginable wild landscape. Sometimes I think I am just made for landscape. I capture shot and somehow I explored that I captured landscape in every frame. I think deeply that there is a strong connection between nature and people and that speaks in my frame. Living in a flat land county like Bangladesh different landscapes of the world always amazed me. I realize outside of my window of the home, the world is so vivid.
I finished my graduation and post-graduation in International relations from Dhaka University. I started work in different private sectors but finally, I am working in the tourism sector which is also related to the preservation of the boats. I sacrificed my corporate careers for photography. In 2014 I went to Florida and I got a gift a small camera and my photography journey started. I felt I need to go more deep inside of it. However, I finished some photography courses in first light from world-renowned Photographer GMB Akash. I realized Photography is a long journey. To be an artist I have to walk a long way, I guess it’s an endless journey. However, on this beautiful journey, I discovered myself. I felt I have a keen interest in the festival, street photography, lifestyle, traveling, and architecture and mostly in landscape photography. Being a photographer, I learned to feel all the tiniest pleasure of life and absorb all abandoned beauty of it. When I capture, I try to capture the picturing time and I completely lost into it! I forget all the agony during the photoshoot. So, photography is also a treasure of happiness and ease the pain yet sometimes I encountered a lot of odd and sad parts of life which also painful in my life. As a versatile photographer, we all have to embrace the good and bad experiences.
To me, Photography is like lyrics of the light, darkness, and shadows that play in our minds. Photography is a big passion for me. I live, I eat, drink, and dream of it. I think and see through photography. And that’s the part of life but sometimes I wonder-the the greatest part of photography is exploring and discovering myself. It’s an amazing adventurous journey that can separate me from my mundane world!
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All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Md. Arifuzzaman. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.