TDS: Is the book a compilation of photographs, that
you've taken over the years, some of which have featured
in the pages of TDS earlier?
PC: It is not a compilation of photographs that I've
taken before. This is a separate, individual project.
There was an exhibition during The Chhobi Mela in
November 2002 and I presented 30 pictures at Alliance
Francaise based on the theme of the circus. In the
course of my work, I began to contact circuses which
I felt were an interesting subject. I hoped that they
would work with us in disseminating messages on polio
eradication . Many people go to the circus every day
and I thought that my companions and I could interrupt
the show on several occasions and then spread the
messages. I felt that I should make a photo essay
of the lives of the circus performers. The more I
got know them, the more fascinated I was.
TDS: Will you say something more about yourself, your
medical background. How did you get into photography
and the pictures in the book?
PC: I'm a public health medical doctor. In the past
five years that I prepared the book, I was in a project
funded by USAID. The circuses were held all over Bangladesh.
are 120 photographs, all black and white, accompanied
by comments but these do not immediately face the
photos. I decided to put them at the end of the book
with a vignette of the pictures.
Why did you choose the circus rather than anything
else in Bangladesh as your theme?
PC: There are many themes which I could have captured
and I have many more in mind, for example, the deep
sea fishermen, who leave their homes to fish in the
Bay of Bengal. I've always wanted to focus on the
people who are marginal, on the edge of society. This
is because I think one learns a lot about the core
of Bangladeshi society. One gets to know how the society
is treating the marginal people. This is true in every
country, when one looks into the situations such as
that of the senior citizens and the migrant workers
in USA and Europe. One learns a lot about the evolution
of a society from such studies.
TDS: Are your pictures in black and white or colour?
Do you mainly go in for the dramatic and subtle effect
of the black and white which to some appear more aesthetically
inclined ? What equipment did you use?
PC: I made a choice and preferred to go in for black
and white. Normally I take colour pictures. There
are two reasons why I went in for black and white
this time For one, I felt that the circus environment
is very colourful and I felt that going black and
white will help to focus on both the faces and the
activities. The second reason is technical: with high-speed
films the best result can be achieved in black and
have been using a Nikon for 30 years. I began and
am still quite content with it. You ask me about the
number of rolls of films: they were innumerable. For
capturing the action, my equipment was quite suitable:
this avoided the grains that come in colour when speed
is involved. There is no romantic reason for the choice.
TDS: What memories do you have of the time you spent
on taking the films for the book?
PC: The only problem was a technical one, in trying
to capture the movements as well as trying to bring
in the ambience of the circus. People were open. I
admit a foreigner in the east is often a source of
attraction. I was with Bangladeshi co-workers and
they too were welcomed. I didn't mind the heat or
rain but I lost a lot of weight. We stayed in nearby
local hotels and watched the three different shows
a day. I got to see jatra performances, which have
an association with the traditional role of the circus.
Decades back they were two separate genres, but now
they tend to be more and more combined.
TDS: Does your work give you a strong sense of satisfaction?
PC: Obviously, I wouldn't continue with my photography
if I didn't enjoy it. What I'm after is to capture
a part of reality and try to present it a way that
will make it more accessible to the people. I enjoy
my moments with my cameras and try to do useful work
whenever I can. My wife and son are very understanding
about my days away with my photography and they take
pride in my work.
The Daily Star, May 11, 2004