Creative aspirations

Multitalented Nuhash Humayun, who is a cartoonist, filmmaker, artist and author, has made it his mission to follow his creative impulses…writes Shagufta Tasnim Nur

Creative-aspirationsTo be passionate about something is to let it consume you. If you do not pursue it, if it does not change you for the better, if it does not inspire others through you, then you are doing it wrong. In the world of Nuhash Humayun, art is passion and it seems he is well on the way to let it consume him.
In 2012, Nuhash gave his knack and love for drawing a chance and started his comic strip Hesh, in Rising Stars, The Daily Star. Hesh features concepts ranging from existential social satire of city life in Dhaka to the cartoonist’s own quirky sense of humour.
‘I was a bit socially awkward and didn’t get to crack my jokes with people, so I figured this was a good way to express myself in cartoon form and that too to a wider audience,’ Nuhash says.
Hesh has a strong online presence with its Facebook page where the strips were simultaneously released. Although the comic strip is no longer running, it built the foundation for Nuhash’s works of expression to come along. ‘I didn’t want to be only a cartoonist; I write, I’m a filmmaker and an artist. So Hesh was an introduction to my world of humour and it opened up a lot of avenues for my art. It opened up my career as a creative person,’ says Nuhash to New Age Youth, explaining how he now uses the name Hesh as an umbrella to accommodate all his involvement in other creative projects.
The success with the comic strip earned Nuhash opportunities like speaking at the Hay Festival’s Imagination Tent with Samir Rahman of Mighty Punch Studios, in 2013. There he discussed the rise of graphic storytelling and how it can lead to alternative career paths in Bangladesh. In 2014, Nuhash conducted a series of workshops called ‘You Are Your Art: Identity through Graphic Storytelling’ in association with The British Council, to teach comic book art and graphic storytelling to children. This project took him first to Chittagong to work with local school children and then, in association with British Council UK and The Southbank Center, took him to UK where he worked with children from Bangladeshi families there. Nuhash also created a special mini graphic novel portraying the concept of child marriage but based on one of Shakespeare’s sonnets for Shakespeare Lives: The Sonnet Exchange Programme. His work was displayed, amongst artworks from all over the world, during the Alchemy Festival, Southbank London.
Some of the more recent artwork projects Nuhash undertook include participating in Invisibellas and The Milkshake Collective. Invisibellas was an exhibition of a street art project that addressed gender inequality, organised by Bengal Art Lounge and The Global Shapers, for which Nuhash made a wall-painting and a comic book that resonates his experiences with the women in his life, playing diverse roles. This June, Nuhash was one of the artists participating in The Milkshake Collective, an independent art exhibition and art fair merging eclectic styles from underground artists. Here his puns and jokes took shape into funny cartoons that got featured on t-shirts. The idea was very well-received by the crowd and the t-shirts sold quickly.
Nuhash’s passion for art also comes through with his blatant interest in filmmaking. He enjoys writing screenplays and has been making short films for a long time. On his visit to TARC during his third semester at BRAC University, where he currently studies Literature, Nuhash took it onto himself to utilise that period of three months and the constant company of his friends to make a short film. He had made shorts before but this instance made him realise that this is something he would like to pursue.
In October 2015, he wrote the screenplay for Dhakapocalypse, a short film about the consequences of zombies attacking Dhaka city. It has a runtime of about five minutes and comes across as funny in a zany way, as is Nuhash’s sense of humour. He further pushed into the world of filmmaking by having recently completed his first self-written, self-directed and self-produced short-film, Paper Frogs, which will be released soon. This project is of particular significance to Nuhash as it deals with the ties of family. ‘In doing a film about family, I realised what my family meant to me,’ Nuhash points out the irony.
For Nuhash art is about simplicity. He believes in harnessing the core essence of what he is trying to portray in his art, leaving no room for fluff. ‘When I did the wall-painting for Invisibellas, a street kid walked up to me and said he liked my painting and that he could draw something similar himself. And I was like, exactly! Art is not something crazy that I do to be different form everyone else, it’s something that I feel people can relate and connect to,’ Nuhash shares an anecdote of how simplicity is essential in his art. His art is his medium of communication with other people; The Torch, a poignant piece Nuhash wrote about his family and remembering his father- the beloved late author and filmmaker Humayun Ahmed, made him realise he can connect to and inspire people and that it is important for him to be able to do so.
Nuhash faced struggles along the path to pursue his passion. ‘The biggest struggle is that the people of Bangladesh don’t yet know how to value art or artists. And this creates confusion that requires for me to go out there and pitch my work to convince people about its value. It forces you to be confident and believe in your own strengths. So, although it’s a struggle, it made me more inspired and professional,’ states Nuhash.
Another struggle is how family has a hard time taking the creative line of work seriously. ‘You’d think that my family would be okay with a creative career, but even they weren’t taking it seriously at first. And I had to work around that; the first time my mother took my artwork seriously was when I went to London through The British Council. My family realised that my artwork is taking me places and that made a point for them to take it seriously,’ he elaborates.
He has had his share of failures too, when he tried to take on making a feature film but ended up giving up on it midway for budget constraints and crazy circumstances. He believes this made him learn a great deal about the process of filmmaking; he benefited from the knowledge to make himself and his work better.
Having made a mark with his work in the past couple of years, Nuhash is just getting started. He looks forward to do a lot in the future including releasing his short film Paper Frogs, working on more short films, moving on to making a big feature film that he has always wanted to do and writing his life story as a graphic novel. When asked why a graphic novel, Nuhash explains with visible zeal, ‘Visual aspects are important to me; I think words and pictures are just meant to be together. I’ve sort of been spoiled by art!’

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