Actress and artist Bipasha Hayat has been in the US for quite a few months now. She has spent her time in painting, writing and attending poetry classes. She even held a solo art exhibition in New York. She talks to Prothom Alo about the exhibition and more.
Bipasha is enthusiastic about her art exhibition in New York. "There is an amazing gallery in Jackson Heights in New York, the Primavera Gallery of BD Art, set up by Shamim Shahed," she says. "Shamim has been quite a few years in New York and he is someone very close to us. He called me up last month and told me about his gallery and said he'd like to inaugurate with an exhibition of my works."
Bipasha was both surprised and happy at the offer and immediately agreed. She displayed 24 painting at the exhibition.
How did she feel about exhibiting her work outside of the country?
Bipasha replies, "When you step outside of the country, you become a representative of your country and need to keep that in mind when you work. Exhibiting abroad gives exposure as well as a sense of confidence to an artist. It creates an opportunity to go ahead. When an artiste of any medium goes ahead, her own culture and country is taken ahead too.
Her art focuses on the social statement, love, dream and pain. "I like to give shape to the world that cannot be seen." She specialises in such conceptual ideas in her painting.
When asked about her other world of acting, and what she things about today's television and web platform, she says, "OTT platforms are a reality now, just as internet, WiFi or any social media is a reality -- like the Japanese artist Hokusai's painting, 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa.' A huge wave approaches, arrives and it about to strike the shore. But we just need to be cautious that the wave does not destroy us. Most of the work is just focused on the treatment. Good concepts or ideas are being lost in the absence of stories, narratives, screenplay, characters or good dialogues. But the work that gives priority to these matters, is bound to be good."
Back to the exhibition. How was the response?
"I am not in New York so I can't see the response, but Shamim Shahed tells me about it and sometimes even connects me to the visitors over phone," replied Bipasha. "I am grateful to the people who come to see my paintings. These paintings are of my 'Subconscious Text' series, 'asemic writing' in other words. This writing is not of any specific language and so doesn't have any meaning. These are expressions of my subconscious mind that define me. You can call it an attempt to look within myself. Interestingly, this is important in acting too. Just as an actor needs to understand the underlying significance of a dialogue, it is also important to analyse the subconscious mind of the character. Unless that is done, an actor cannot take on the identity or mannerisms of the character. The medium may be different, but the matter is the same."
Bipasha writes too, though she prefers not to call herself a writer.
"I began writing because of Prothom Alo," she says. "I am now dabbling in short stories. I have done some other random work which may be called poetry because of the rhythm and meter, but I wouldn't be bold enough to say so. Those are just writings emerging from the urges of my mind."
What about acting? Why isn't she acting nowadays? Viewers are impatient to see her again.
"I love acting," Bipasha says emphatically, "But I have a social responsibility. Drama is a holistic art. There will be a commercial aspect, for sure, but it seemed that the commercial side had taken over the art. Everyone is compromising too much. That is when I threw myself into my painting. Art practice demands hundred per cent of your time. That is why I distanced myself from drama. And now is the time for the new ones to work. I am awed by the extraordinary acting of many of them. But I am ever indebted to the viewers for their love and I will certain act again."
Bipasha then responds to the contention that directors and actors cater to the viewers' likes, rather than endeavour to create elevated taste and demand.
"We work in a creative field and so need to create something new out of a sense to social responsibility. If we fail in that task, then someone else will come along and simply repeat what has already been done in the past, proving themselves incompetent. A creative person must certainly elevate society, culture and people's taste through his or her work. A creative person is an enlightened person, a person who enlightens others."
When it comes to Bangladesh's television drama and series, Bipasha says we have made things too complicated. It would be easiest if people would be trained in whatever creative field they want. The doors of knowledge are now open for all. One can build oneself up and conquer the world. But we will remain very limited in our scope as long as we fail to understand the need for knowledge and skill.
"But surely times will change," she says on a note of hope. "Surely we will get work based on our history. The OTT platform is an opportunity to make the impossible possible. The independence struggle, language movement, killing of intellectuals, our origins, our ancient history and even contemporary events, can be our content. It is possible to use such content to hold up Bangladesh before the world. But do we think on those lines? Are we prepared for that? Have we seen scenes of the war perfectly portrayed in any web series?
Is there a crisis of directors and actors in our TV plays or does the problem lie elsewhere?
Bipasha replies, "There is no dearth of talent. Most of our actors and directors are very talented. Their work fills me with awe and hope. The problem is in the preparation."
Bipasha Hayat and spouse Tauquir Ahmed have both excelled in the cultural field. What are their thoughts about their next generation? Where do their interests lie?
"Tauquir and I want our children to choose their subjects to their own liking, whatever makes them happy. I see them interested in various art forms. Time will tell what they will eventually study, which field they will chose."
Coronavirus gave way to a lot of new ways of thinking. What about Bipasha?
"I call this 'stone times' and have done a lot of drawing-based work on this. It's a lot like writing a diary. A diary written in the language of stones.
This interview appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir