History for youngsters
Abrar Farhan Arts & Letters

True that our youngsters are no stranger to comic strips, whether translated or original. But when it comes to graphic novels, they actually have no access to the genre, unless through some imported English books. This is why the graphic novel series, Mujib, attracted my attention: it is the first of its kind in this country. But as I started reading, I realised its true worth lies elsewhere.

There is no lack of excitement in it that a graphic novel comes with; nor is there any dearth of colourful illustrations and drawings to keep you hooked. But the story it tells is not that of a super hero with extraordinary physical attributes. Though not endowed with magical or inexplicable powers, the man whose life the novel follows is also a hero. The difference, however, is that he was placed on the pedestal by hundreds of thousands of men and women who had stood behind him when he was steering them towards liberation, towards a dignified way of life. 

That’s where the true worth of this novel lies: it’s a breakthrough not only because it’s the first graphic novel series but also because it presents youngsters with the most towering personality of our history retaining all the excitement and fun that is characteristic of the genre. Under this series the Centre of Research and Information (CRI) will bring out a total of 12 volumes and each volume will deal with a specific chapter in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s life. All the volumes together will make up the complete novel. The current book is the second in the series that portrays the young Mujib and his formative years.

The artistic success owes entirely to cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy whose portraits of young Bangabandhu capture the contours of a face always troubled by people’s suffering and revived by big dreams. This emotional appeal serves the story very well as it is written and prepared in the first person, drawing profusely from Bangabandhu’s Unfinished Memoir. The text was prepared by Siddique Ahmed.

The use of colours strikingly comes into play in order to breathe life into the events as they unfold. Sheikh Mujib wrote his Unfinished Memoirs while in jail. To capture that ambience, the jail scenes are portrayed in monochromes whereas the flashbacks and recollections are done with vibrant hues.  

Graphic novels appeal to the youth because they stir emotions through the visual portrayal of the character and the trials and tribulations faced by that character. The novel Mujib gives us glimpses into his childhood and how he played sports or had to study for his board exams. It is because of this that the historical image of Sheikh Mujib becomes more accessible to the youth.

 The Mujib series will definitely appeal to the youth because it stirs emotions through the visual portrayal of the character and the trials and tribulations faced by that character. It has paved the way for other artists to follow. It also shows that the capability of graphic novels to deliver a compelling story is sound. 

Publishers Radwan Mujib Siddiq and Nasrul hamid, state minister for power, deserve a word of praise for taking this initiative to enlighten young readers about the most glorious personalities of our history. This initiative is grand because we live in a time when the uncontrolled, enormous inflow of stories about western heroes or superheroes keeps our young generation occupied. We do hope parents and teachers. 

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