Whenever we talk about the cultural movements of Dhaka the image of some young people full of confidence with tender yet firm faces roaming around the Shahbag or TSC area of the city wearing a bindi or cotton Panjabi flashes in our mind.
They are the creative forces behind the vibrant cultural activism on the campus of Dhaka University.
Whenever you visit the campus you will surely find some cultural events happening around the TSC area of the campus.
The University of Dhaka is considered to be the hive of intellectuals. The most important events in our history like the language movement, mass upsurge of 1969, the liberation war and the 1990 mass uprising against the autocratic regime, all are inseparable from the university.
The Teacher-Student Centre of the university, known as TSC, undeniably had led the most important socio-cultural movements in our history.
How the place is doing now that had been a cultural hub once?
The cultural hub
In a fine December afternoon, members of Dhaka University Film Society, a cultural organisation, were found distributing pamphlets of their upcoming event titled "Global Migration Film Festival in Dhaka" outside the RC Majumder Auditorium.
The objective of the organisation is to raise awareness through films to create a better world.
Orni, a first-year student and a member of the organisation, said she had been fascinated with the cultural environment of Dhaka University from her childhood. Now she is working with the film society with her full enthusiasm.
Currently, all the cultural organisations of the university have their focus on the celebration of the victory day, December 16.
Dhaka University Film Society has planned a parallel dialogue between the liberation war and the history of film for this day. They will also join the combined cultural celebration arranged by an organisation named Slogan 71.
Organisations of TSC arrange events like film screening, poetry recitation, arranging concerts and staging dramas etc. all through the year. At least 19-20 dramas are staged at the TSC auditorium every year.
Cultural activities are not limited inside the TSC boundary. Organisations from outside the university also have their presence here.
Muktodhara is such an organisation. Bristy Rani Roy, a member of the organisation, said, "Though we are not a university organisation, having a booth at this place gives us benefit as the place has a reputation for a cultural background."
Nostalgia for the past
Despite all these activities, many think the university has lost its golden days.
Toufiq, a student of the Journalism department, said these days the cultural programs are unproductive.
"Nothing collective is coming out of these. Do we have any prominent figure coming out of our TSC culture after Sanjeeb da (late singer and songwriter Sanjeeb Chowdhury)?" said Toufiq.
This youngster thinks the activities are great in number but not in quality.
Another student from fine arts faculty said there is little scope for newcomers here. She said the opportunities are distributed among a few people.
Most of the students who were approached by The Business Standard said, "TSC has lost the charisma".
One of them added that after the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) election talent hunt programs were held in the dormitories which were a great initiative. But it failed to create much impact overall.
Several students said the DUCSU is failing to create any modification in the ongoing practices.
"We are still vocal about any kind of injustice and we want to work against them. But sometimes it is hard to overcome the powerful political influence," said Jubilee, the general secretary of Dhaka University film society.
Md Sanwarul Haque Sony, former president of Dhaka University Drama Troops, said, "I must admit that the charm of the cultural hub is declining. We are failing to attract mass people."
Saikat, a theatre activist, thinks formerly it was the demand of time that revolutionary works must come out. He said the culture of collective contribution to the country has changed over time.
"Now artists work for their portfolio which has given rise to a general culture of alienation. This is why we are failing to produce anything sustainable that attracts the masses," he said.