“An object or a person appearing prevalent in any atmosphere always enthuse a photographer to capture it through his lens. But for some unknown reason, I sensed an urge within - that I will only take his shot. I felt a chill passing through my spine. Until that day, I never saw a person with inscribing a stirring slogan - 'down with autocracy, let democracy be freed' on his bare chest and back. In a fraction of second I took two shots, one vertical and one horizontal. And then I wanted him to disappear in the crowd, so that other lenses do not get to capture him. And he disappeared, he disappeared in the crowd for good”, reminisces Pavel Rahman.
November 10, 1987. The young man with the slogan inscribed on his body was Noor Hossain - a 26 year old demonstrator, who was gunned down at a procession against the then autocratic government. Noor Hossain's revolutionary soul rests in peace, but the slogan still breathes. It breathes quite profoundly, over times, through the vein of 16 million people.
Noor Hossain's revolutionary slogan has turned out as a symbol of spirit for the Bangladeshis, a nation that always fought back against all odds. 26 years down the line, Noor Hossain's legendary image continues inspiring millions of hearts impelled with demands, be it for restoration of democracy or capital punishment for the war criminals of 1971.
On that fiery sunlight hours of November, Pavel Rahman did not just captured a mere photograph, but gave birth to a legend though his lens, an icon that enthuses today's unyielding youth of Bangladesh, whom we look up to for a progressive tomorrow.
Pavel Rahman's interview was conducted by Promiti Prova Chowdhury.
The story was first published in INTELLECT Issue no.3, dated November 2013.