Sarat Mala Chakma, her daughter Kanak Chanpa Chakma, and her granddaughter Shiropa Purna
Sarat Mala Chakma, her daughter Kanak Chanpa Chakma, and her granddaughter Shiropa Purna

“Three Generations” is a brilliant example of the day-by-day development of the artistic talent within a family as it is passed on from one generation to another. The Athena Gallery of Fine Arts at Uttar Badda arranged a three-week-long group exhibition titled ‘3 Generation’ with Sarat Mala Chakma, her daughter Kanak Chanpa Chakma, and her granddaughter Shiropa Purna’s works. Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, renowned entrepreneur and former adviser to the caretaker government Rokia Afzal Rahman and renowned artist and media personality Mustafa Monowar inaugurated the three-week exhibition which started on October 17.
Sarat’s work will comprise of natai, chorka, and the method of knitting from cotton. Her daughter Kanak’s weavings along with paintings portraying the indigenous peoples’ feelings, pain, political and social oppression was on display. Her daughter Shiropa’s watercolour work was on display along with her 10-minute film “Bird in a Cage” which was screened during the tenure of the exhibition.
Gallery Athena’s exhibition of new dimensions will certainly inspire the future generations of many other Bangladeshi families.

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Going back to the start, Sarat Mala Chakma was born in 1932 in a small village called Machchori in the Subholong region of Rangamati. Like many other women of the Jumma community Sarat Mala Chakma works on her backstrap loom in Rangamati. She weaves pignons (sarongs) for herself and her daughter. Later, she was awarded the honour of being the best weaver and was invited to join the exhibition of Crafts from Bangladesh which was to be held in the summer of 1987 in London. The third child of Saratmala and Bijoy Chandra, was Kanak Chanpa Chakma. While her mother wove, the little’s girl’s infatuation towards paint started growing. As a schoolgirl, Kanak’s artistic endeavors brought her a first prize in children’s art given by UNICEF. While Kanak was in college, her mother was given the National Award for Handicrafts for creating a specific Alam (a design catalogue). Shortly after, she was taken to England at the National Crafts Council to demonstrate her skills in front of visitors and later again in Italy.

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Meanwhile, Kanak completed her education and launched her career as a full-time artist. Her paintings contain the vibrant colours that indigenous art so often carries, but Kanak gave those colours a dimension of her own. Soon, she married Khalid Mahmood Mithu, a renowned artist, photographer and film-maker and the couple’s second offspring was Shiropa Purna.
Shiropa’s first acting experience was at the age of five when she starred in her brother Arjo Shrestho’s first short film, receiving the Best Child Actress Award from Stamford TRAB.
By the age of eight, Shiropa made a brilliant short film that got her an award from the Reel Teens Film Festival of New York, USA.

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Kanak inherited paint and design from her mother while Shiropa inherited from her mother the vibrant colours of indigenous art, the technique inherent in her father’s paintings and his brilliant film-making skills. She acted in a few dramas in her earlier years, but her major breakthrough came with the full-length film ‘Gohine Shobdo (Dark resonance)’, for which she was recognized as the Best Child Actress in the Silent River Film Festival, USA. However, her interest in acting is shadowed by her ambitions in filmmaking. Her first shooting session was inaugurated by master puppeteer, artist and TV personality, Mustafa Manwar. Shiropa’s short film was followed by five more, for which she received awards, both national and international. She wrote all her scripts herself, developing vital writing skills. She also edited her films on her own and thus enhanced her understanding of filmmaking. “Three Generations” will arouse a special desire to uphold family values.