Passion on wheels

Ahmed Shatil Alam talks to a motorbike stuntman from Chapainawabganj who is quite popular in his community through the risky stunts he pulls with his motorcycle on a regular basis

pe1When we sit to watch any instalment from the Tom Cruise starring blockbuster franchise ‘Mission Impossible’, we are filled with anticipation about at least one or two sequences involving motorcycles. In fact, the fifth instalment of the series that was released last year had another breath-taking scene of a motor-bike stunt where Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson were seen riding fearlessly around the winding roads of the Atlas Mountains.
The motorbike stunts have always been integral to movies, be it in Hollywood, Bollywood or in Bangladeshi films. With the advent of technology and faster bikes, the latest movies from these sources almost always have to include at least one stunt involving motorcycles. The trend has spilled over to television shows as well.
The actions involving motorbikes, seen on popular electronic media, may have influenced many bikers in Bangladesh. Only on Facebook, there are at least 20 Bangladesh-based motor biker groups. These are based in cities like Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Noakhali, Rajshahi and so on, where these groups carry out stunts with their bikes and in the process have become popular to local communities.
The members of these groups help each other out in learning stunts. But it is rare to find a lone stunt motorcyclist from a small town in Northern Bangladesh who has done most of his fearless stunts, whose videos can be seen on YouTube.
pe2Shamiul Hasan Shawon is that motorbiker who has learnt around 10 types of stunts including Wheelie, Stoppie, Burnout, Christ, Switchback and shows these almost every day on the streets of the Chapainawabganj.
Shawon explained each of the stunt moves that he performs. ‘To raise the front wheel off the ground and ride only on the rear wheel is called a Wheelie,’ he says. ‘Stoppie occurs when a moving motorcycle is stopped on its front wheel causing the rear wheel to be raised. During this time, the machine is balanced only on the front tire,’ he adds.
He continues, ‘Standing on either tank or seat while assuming the pose of Jesus Christ is called Christ. Riding down the road, jumping or climbing around so that your back is facing the front of the bike and eventually you end up riding backwards is called a Switchback.’
Shawon says, from all the stunts I prefer the wheelie. The stunt was first done in 1890 by trick bicyclist Daniel J. Canary, shortly after modern bicycles became popular. Wheelies appear in popular culture as early as 1943, as U.S Army motorised cavalry are pictured in Life magazine performing high speed wheelies.
Alike many others, Shawon started his education to become a professional in an established profession in Bangladesh. He shares that his passion towards two-wheelers began when his father gifted him a bicycle when he was just six.
‘I was in love with that bicycle. I kept pedaling to increase the speed and began to gain interest for motorcycles,’ he says. He adds that this interest has spurned him to become a motorbike stuntman.
pe3Interestingly, he learned the moves by watching movies and Youtube videos. Shawon says that doing stunts is not an easy task in Bangladesh as internationally the stuntmen get the opportunity of professional trainings, ‘they do the sport in a specialised zone that has all sort of necessary facilities as these stunts can be fatal.’
‘I want to take it as a profession but do not know where and how I can get the opportunity to showcase my expertise,’ he shares pointing out the lack of opportunities in Bangladesh for such hobbies. Recently a few of the Dhaka-based stuntmen get some opportunities to work in some TVC’s. ‘But this is not enough,’ he shares.
Shawon is struggling to get a professional stuntman identity. He currently works as a stuntman for different media houses as there are not so much scope in Bangladesh, he shares. ‘Although, I am confused about my future whether I should be a professional stuntman or not, but I am working hard to stick to my passion,’ he says. He also shares that alike many others, his family is not happy with his job.
For those with an interest in motorbike stunts, Shawon advices, ‘Please ensure extra caution through necessary equipment before doing stunts on the road. There can be accidents if proper precautions are not taken.’=

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *