For 40 years, Unmad has been the synonymous with satire in Bangladesh. A five-day exhibition of their four decades is taking place at Drik Gallery
South Asia’s longest-running monthly satire magazine Unmad is celebrating their 40 years, exhibiting over 200 cartoons and artworks by approximately 80 cartoonists at Drik Gallery.
The magazine was founded by Ahsan Habib, Ishtiaque Hossain, Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, Sultanur Islam, and Nawshad Nabi in 1978.
The event, taking place from July 5-9, features some of the best Bangladeshi cartoonists in the exhibition. The list includes Mehedi Haque Cartoons, MITUcartoon, Arts by Rats and many other Unmad cartoonists.
Unmad Editor-Publisher Ahsan Habib told the Dhaka Tribune: “It is not every day you get to meet and connect with the readers face-to-face. It is a delightful experience.”
The event is filled with enthusiastic Unmad readers of all ages, either appreciating the artworks or getting caricatures by cartoonists.
Anik Khan, executive editor of Unmad, said: “The crowd you will find here is peculiar. You will find fans of all ages here. If a group of readers grow old and tired of Unmad, a new batch joins in with their curiosity.”
On the second day of the event, fans were seen banging their heads to the music. There were songs based on nursery rhymes like “Projapoti” played by artists too. Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy, a cartoonist and coordinator of the event said: “If you come to Drik any other day for any other exhibition, you won’t find the crowd this cheerful and active like the Unmad event.”
The term “Unmad” was founded in an attempt to ape the American humor magazine “Mad”. The magazine aims to create monthly issues promoting rising issues of the world through a humorous, satirical method. According to Ahsan Habib, “We don’t want our cartoonists to only know how to draw; we want them to know how to represent meaningful stories in a humorous way too.”
The “Unmadashon” and “Unmad Selfie Booth” are some of the few attractions in the event. There are also souvenirs designed by the Unmad cartoonists and signed by Ahsan Habib at the event. Shifa, a devoted fan, told the Dhaka Tribune: “I have been following Unmad since my childhood and today I am here with my daughter. The whole experience is amazing and it is a proud moment for all of us as Unmad is a huge part of Bengali culture.”
Although, there is a change in trend as Ahsan Habib put it: “People are more involved in the virtual world now” but that did not reduce the fan following of Unmad. They have adapted and created social media platforms like Dhaka Comics, Akantis, Cartoon People, and taken to YouTube to balance their subscribers.
He continued: “We are settled. We do not need to exhibit to build circulation. We are doing far better without it. All we want is to create more cartoonists and put out more issues.”
The exhibition is taking place at Drik Gallery from till July 9. It will remain open from 3pm to 8pm. There is no entry fee. The issues on display are not available for purchase at the event.