The festive time of the year once again arrived when people across the world are revisiting the past twelve months of 2023, waiting to bid a wishful adieu to the departing year and welcome 2024 with new hopes and visions. Like the rest of the world, Bangladesh's cultural and entertainment scene saw a lot of exciting events throughout the year, and netizens in the country were kept occupied by everything that the nation's superstars, artists, and cultural mediums had to offer. This article is a compilation of all these abovementioned happenings, as a flashback of the eventful 2023 - in loving memories of the happenings in the country's arts, culture and entertainment sphere.

Art Events, Exhibitions and Festivals

Throughout the calendar year, a great number of local-international exhibitions and festivals were organized at different venues, namely Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA), Liberation War Museum (LWM), Dhaka University Faculty of Fine Art (DU FFA), Alliance Française de Dhaka (AFD), Gallery Cosmos, Bangladesh National Museum, Gallery Chitrak, EMK Centre, Gallery Kaya, Drik, Safiuddin Shilpalay, Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, Brihatta Art Foundation, EDGE, Abinta Gallery and other venues in the capital.

Starting with the 10th edition of Dhaka Lit Fest from January 5-8, which returned after a three-year hiatus due to the global pandemic of COVID-19, the calendar year continued with remarkable artistic and cultural festivities. The 21st edition of the Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF), one of the oldest and most regular cultural festivals in the country, officially began shortly after the Lit Fest in the capital, showcasing 252 films from 71 countries. The long-awaited 6th edition of the Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) also made its return after three years on the following month at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA), continued till February 11 under the theme 'Bonna' (Flood). The month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair began on February 1st and concluded on February 28 at the premises of Bangla Academy and the Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital, marking the first successful edition of the fair after the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020. In celebration of World Music Day 2023, a multidisciplinary musical and theatrical performance titled "Made in Bangladesh" by Max Vandervorst of Belgium and 'Joler Gaan' band frontman Rahul Ananda of Bangladesh was staged in June at the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, Dhanmondi - which eventually led the French President Emmanuel Macron to visit at his home in September.

Several urban events captivated netizens this year at the Aloki Convention Centre in the capital's Tejgaon including the Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh (FDCB)'s flagship venture Bangladesh Fashion Week 2023 in March, the convivial urban rendezvous at the Dhaka Makers 2023's inaugural edition in June, and the tantalizing first-ever Arka Fashion Week in October. The venue was also the home of several high-profile concerts, including the musical night of popular Indian singer Lucky Ali.

Gallery Cosmos, the philanthropic and artistic wing of Bangladeshi conglomerate Cosmos Group, has organised several exhibitions and art events throughout the year. The list of events includes an exclusive Intaglio process-Softground and Stencil Workshop by internationally acclaimed art maestro Professor Rokeya Sultana titled 'Impression of Rokeyas', an exclusive watercolour art camp titled 'Splendours of Bangladesh' on August as an ode to the Father of the Nation, a joint exhibition with the Turkish Embassy in Dhaka tiled 'Smiles Around the World: An Artistic Celebration', Singapore-based Bangladeshi artist Jamil Khan's solo exhibition titled 'Inspiration' and an exclusive ceremony in honour of a seasoned group of rickshaw painters in Dhaka whose works have made rickshaw and rickshaw paintings recognized as the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in Botswana, titled 'Gallery on Wheels' at the Private Museum, Baridhara in the capital.

Additionally, several major solo exhibitions also took place throughout the year, including Gallery Cosmos Artistic Director Sourav Chowdhury's 5th solo exhibition 'Eternal Existence' at AFD.

Several local and international festivals were also held across the country in 2023, including (but not limited to) the 9th Dhaka International Mobile Film Festival, the 16th International Children's Film Festival Bangladesh, Chhayanaut's traditional Bengali New Year celebration at the Ramna Batamul and its annual folk fest, Shuddha Sangeet Utsab, dance festival and seasonal odes; the Ganga Jamuna Cultural Festival 2023; Korean Film Festival 2023; Goethe-Institut Bangladesh's Science Film Festival 2023 and the traditional 'Zainul Utsab' and 'Zainul Mela' by Dhaka University's Faculty of Fine Art in commemoration to the Shilpacharya's birth anniversary.


The film industry in Bangladesh observed and celebrated 2023 as one of the most eventful years in recent history. Not only the year witnessed the jovial return of audiences in theatres, but also welcomed a handful of local and foreign films - most notably, the Bollywood blockbusters. This year marked the importation of Hindi movies once again in the country under the SAFTA agreement, which has been a long-standing demand of cinema hall owners. The demand was fulfilled with the arrival of Shah Rukh Khan starrer Bollywood blockbuster film 'Pathaan' in May this year, followed by his other history-making film 'Jawan' which marked the same-day release for a Bollywood film in the country's multiplexes and single screens. Among other films, Salman Khan starrer 'Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan' failed to entertain the audiences while Ranbir Kapoor's career-best performance in 'Animal' and Shah Rukh Khan's latest film, the Rajkumar Hirani-made 'Dunki' performed well in terms of captivating the moviegoers.

Throughout the year, the industry thrived with conversations and viewpoints, making it a good year for the business - yet leaving the stakeholders with unfulfilled dreams but meaningful aspirations. From 'Mujib' - the much-anticipated biopic of the Father of the Nation, to the industry's long-crowned king Shakib Khan's mega-blockbuster 'Priyotoma' and television's seasoned actor Afran Nisho's silver screen debut 'Surongo' - the film industry in Bangladesh welcomed a total of 51 films, with some achieving economic success and others failing in terms of attracting the moviegoers.

However, a long-standing frustration remained once again the recurring theme in Dhallywood this year, which is the dependency on Eid-based film releases. Festive seasons are understandably the most awaited moments for the filmmakers and hall owners, but other films which were scheduled throughout the year failed to grab a large chunk of the audiences in theatres. This year, a total of eight films got released across a hundred movie theatres including single-screens and multiplexes on Eid ul Fitr, including the Shakib Khan starrer 'Leader Amie Bangladesh', Ananta Jalil's 'Kill Him', Jaaz Multimedia's 'Jinn' and 'Paap', alongside four other films - 'Shotru', 'Local', 'Adam' and 'Prem Pritir Bandhan.' On the other hand, audience demand for quality films in Eid ul Azha were fulfilled with five movies - 'Priyotoma', 'Surongo', 'Prohelika', 'Lal Shari' and 'Casino'. That being said, the Eid releases this year include Shakib Khan starrer 'Leader Amie Bangladesh' and 'Priyotoma' - the latter of which spellbound the viewers with a never-seen-before look of the superstar, and the much-anticipated Raihan Rafi-Afran Nisho-Chorki film 'Surongo' captivated the audiences during the Eid festivities.

Aside from Eid, there have been some other films which were able to keep the interest and conversations going and also made the moviegoers entertained. The major player in this category was undoubtedly the Shyam Benegal-directed Bangabandhu biopic 'Mujib" The Making of a Nation' with Arifin Shuvoo's valiant portrayal as the Father of the Nation. Proving the doubters wrong, Shuvoo stunned the audiences and critics with his stellar performances alongside seasoned co-artists Nusrat Imrose Tisha, Tauquir Ahmed, Chanchal Chowdhury, Fazlur Rahman Babu and others. The storyline portrayed Bangabandhu as not only the unsung hero and leader of the nation but also a caring family man who was brilliantly portrayed by Shuvoo, ultimately stunning the moviegoers.

Speaking of the actor, his other much-anticipated film 'Black War', the sequel to the popular action film 'Mission Extreme', also received appraisals from the audiences. Several other big releases marked the debuts of renowned actors as filmmakers, including Hridi Huq's much-acclaimed film '1971: Sei Sob Din' and veteran Aruna Biswas's Jatra-themed movie 'Ashomvob'. The much-anticipated ABM Sumon-starrer 'Masud Rana' spy thriller film 'MR-9: Do or Die' and seasoned filmmaker Dipankar Dipan's 'Antarjal' starring Siam Ahmed-Bidya Sinha Mim in the lead roles, which was claimed to be the first Bangladeshi thriller film made on cyber war, also tried to capture the attention of the moviegoers.

Two prominent Bangladeshi actresses, Jaya Ahsan and Azmeri Haque Badhan, solidified their lasting impressions in Bollywood this year. Badhan's acting in the Vishal Bhardwaj-directed Netflix film 'Khufiya' received critical acclamations from both audiences and critics in India and Bangladesh. Jaya Ahsan, who continued her successful track record in West Bengal's film industry with Srijit Mukherjee's 'Dawshom Awbotar' this year, also made her successful debut in Bollywood with OTT platform ZEE-5's film 'Kadak Singh' alongside popular actor Pankaj Tripathi.

Alongside the accomplishments, several marquee incidents happened throughout the year in the film industry, engaging the rumour mils while occupying the viewers and readers. The separation of Sariful Razz and Pori Moni, the year-long catfight between Apu Biswas and Bubly, the dispute between television actress Tanjin Tisha and media journalists, and the infamous fallout of the Celebrity Cricket League - these incidents made most of the headlines. Additionally, the candidacy of actor Ferdous Ahmed, actress Mahia Mahi and others in the 12th National Election was also a significant part of this year's entertainment arena.

With a handful of promised releases including the Chorki-SVF-Alpha i ventured Redoan Rony's directorial return 'Domm', Raihan Rafi-Shakib Khan's maiden collaboration 'Toofan', Ananta Jalil-starrer 'Operation Jackpot', Gias Uddin Selim's historical vision of 'Kajol Rekha' and Shakib Khan's international ventures such as 'Dard' and 'Rajkumar' - 2024 is undoubtedly going to be a prominent year for Bangladeshi films.

OTT, Television and Web

The OTT sector as a whole continued to have an incredible year in 2023, with Bangladesh's OTT scene emerging in the wake of international giants like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar, Apple TV+, and more. An array of over-the-top films captured the attention of viewers on the screens of platforms including Chorki, HoiChoi, Binge, and others. Experienced and well-known performers such as Chanchal Chowdhury, Mosharraf Karim, Apurba, Mehazabien Chowdhury, Nasir Uddin Khan, Tasnia Farin and others achieved great popularity and praise from critics for their outstanding roles in a variety of web series and films. Filmmakers like Raihan Rafi, Ashfaque Nipun, Tanim Rahman Angshu, Shihab Shaheen. Mizanur Rahman Aryan and others continued to enthral the viewers with captivating storytelling.

The most talked-about and acclaimed web series and films were the Ashfaque Nipun-Mosharraf Karim duo's much-anticipated 'Mohanagar 2'; Shihab Shaheen directed Nasir Uddin Khan's career-best crime thriller 'Myself Allen Swapan', Tanim Rahman Angshu directed 'Buker Moddhye Agun', the Binge original and Tasnia Farin starrer 'Baba Someone's Following Me'; Mizanur Rahman Aryan directed rom-com 'Unish-20' which brought back the duo of Arifin Shuvoo-Afsana Bindu in the lead roles while his another film 'Punormilone' mesmerized the audiences; and Raihan Rafi's dark thriller 'Friday' featuring the groundbreaking performance of Tama Mirza. Alongside these films, acclaimed filmmaker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's acting debut in 'Something Like An Autobiography' alongside his wife Nusrat Imrose Tisha marked the first release of Chorki's 'Ministry of Love' project with 12 acclaimed Bangladeshi directors, and the films are promised to enthral the audiences in the entirety of 2024.


Throughout the year, major venues across the city including the International Convention Center Bashundhara (ICCB), Bangladesh Army Stadium, Hatirjheel Amphitheatre and Aloki Convention Center, hosted several high-profile musical events, including To Gaza from Dhaka, Joy Bangla Concert, Coke Studio Bangla Live, Cholo Bangladesh Concert, Rock N Rhythm 3.0: Tribute Fiesta, The Night of Pritom Hasan, Dhaka Summer Con 2023, The School of Rock, Dhaka City Sound Project, and many more. Prominent bands and performers including Nagar Baul, Warfaze, Artcell, Meghdol, Shironamhin, Maqsood O' dHAKA, Chirkutt, Nemesis and others continued enthralling the fans in these concerts. The most talked-about musical programme was the second edition of Coke Studio Bangla, which enthralled the listeners with songs such as 'Deora', 'Kotha Koiyo Na', 'Dilaram', 'Murir Tin', 'Bonobibi', 'Darale Duaarey' and more.

Besides, the Dhaka concert scene thrived throughout the entirety of 2023 with several big banner concerts and major artists and bands from India and West Bengal, including Lucky Ali, Anupam Roy, Chandrabindoo, Fossils, Taalpatar Shepai, Anuv Jain, Darshan Raval, and others.

Overall, the nation has thoroughly enjoyed an eventful 2023 and now is all set to welcome a promising 2024.

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