Dhallywood Rickshaw Art in Bangladesh

It’s just about impossible to imagine Bangladesh without the bicycle rickshaw. With colorful artwork on the back, hard-working drivers in front, bicycle rickshaws are not relics of the past, but the dominant form of transport throughout the country. The atmosphere of riding in one alternates between the peace of a slow ride above it all and the mania of a bob-and-weave in the thick of it (of the sorts that can make India look positively tame).

Besides its driver, what makes a rickshaw really stand out are its colors and artwork. In one Bangladeshi town in particular, Rajshahi, we noticed a theme in its rickshaw art: Dhallywood*-style scenes of buxom women and brawny men.

Here’s a sample of what we found.

Bollywood Rickshaw Art in Rajshahi, Bangladesh
Bollywood Rickshaw Art in Bangladesh

*What is Dhallywood? A play on Hollywood, Dhallywood refers to the Bangladesh film industry, based in Dhaka, the country’s capital city. (Yes, just like Bollywood, the Mumbai- formerly Bombay- based Indian film industry).

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  1. says

    Your post is fascinating to us. We have spent time reviewing the beautifully decorated Costa Rican oxcarts which are a natural symbol of pride and have a rich history of their own. Through some research, we learned that decorating cycle rickshaws in Bangladesh costs about 25% of the total price of the vehicle. Unless mistaken, that is a fortune for the rickshaw owner. However, as you cover so well in your post, it is the trend and what it takes to be noticed and successful as a rickshaw owner in Bangladesh. Your pictures are excellent. Amazing for a Dollywood presence in that part of the world! Your description of riding in a rickshaw seems quite thrilling. Thank you for your posts, always interesting.
    “The Gourmet Coffee Guy”

  2. says

    @Tim: Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I wouldn’t be surprised if decoration comprised a quarter of the price of a rickshaw in Bangladesh. It’s all about priorities — something we are both trying to get a handle on in this country.
    @Agne, Sarah, Matt: Thanks. Glad you liked it.
    @Kirk: When we first labeled the post Bollywood, a friend corrected us. That’s why we immediately changed the title to Dollywood and explained the term at the end of the post. Our Bangladeshi friend also added, “Dollywood characters are always buxom, never skinny.” This made me laugh.

  3. says

    It seems every country’s budding film industry has a [Letter]-ollywood name.

    In Nigeria, it’s Nollywood. In Sweden, it’s Trollywood named after the town Trollhättan where many films are made.

    Vibrant colors!

  4. says

    @Lola: Everyone has an -ollywood. But imagine if everyone had rickshaws — and ones with their best-known actors and actresses on the back. As I write this, I shudder at the thought.

  5. says

    Awesome art! Dollywood is also Dolly Parton’s amusement park in Tennessee funny enough speaking of buxom women.
    One of the simple things I enjoyed in India was how decorated and colorful all of the trucks, tractors, and cows(!) were. I wish I saw more whimsy like that in rural America’s trucks and tractors. Though I guess I have seen a tractor decorated with Christmas lights before…

  6. says

    @Cathy: Funny, when we first published the piece, we entitled it “Bollywood” art for two reasons: that’s a term readers would probably know, and we also didn’t want to get mixed up with DP’s amusement park. In fairness and accuracy, we later corrected the title. Bangladeshis are certainly serious about their decoration.

  7. says

    Would you have more details about where you found some art? We’d like to recruit more artists for our small social business — and spread the love of rickshaw art =)

  8. says

    @Rickshaw Art: In Bangladesh, rickshaw art is everywhere :) Each city in Bangladesh seems to have an area where rickshaw builders and artists work. We stumbled across a few of them, but don’t remember the exact locations. Maybe you can post this question to travel forums on Facebook and Lonely Planet to get a more exact response and possible contact to go down and talk to them about what you do. Good luck!

  9. Arifur Rahman says

    Hi Daniel & Audrey, I am from Bangladesh & I am pretty amazed the way u guys described every lil part u experienced. I was actually looking for Drake Passage, abruptly after googling found ur article, it was really helping to protrait myself right in that cruise u were. What u guys r doing deserves much recognition. The way u two printing footsteps in different part of the world fantasizes ma mind, I wish I could :) On behalf of the people from Bangladesh convey ma gratitude. Salut u guys, Im sharing ur beautiful website to Facebook. Hope ppl will discover what they should never leave unturned.

  10. says

    @Arifur: Thank you very much for your comment and for sharing Uncornered Market with your friends on Facebook. It means a lot to us.

    I’m glad that we could share our experiences in Bangladesh in a way that Bangladeshis feel is fair and accurate to their country and their own personal experience.

    “…discover what they should never leave unturned.” — I love that!

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