Vol. 5 Num 216 Sat. January 01, 2005  

New Year Special
Catches win matches...
Notun Kuri's wasted opportunity

The title is a famous term in cricket, and is a painful for all Bangladesh cricket lovers. Millions on the field, glued to the TV or Internet have been cursing the numerous opportunities we let slip though our grasp, with the inevitable result made all the more certain. This analogy might seem a bit strange if applied to our cultural arena, but its surprising how relevant it actually is.. This is in reference to our nation-wide prestigious talent show, Notun Kuri. This event is a massive logistical effort.

Astounding though it may sound, a massive 12,000 to 15,000 hopeful and aspiring talents take part in the competition. A seven- member committee selects three judges from each region. The selectors work tirelessly for the entire year to screen the very best child performers.

And we have it all, dancing, singing, reciting, acting, drawing in droves of talent from all points on the compass. The parents devote tremendous amount of time and money, enrolling their child in overcrowded performing arts schools, accompanying them to audition centres, waiting for hours in the un-shaded enclosures, rain or shine.

The climax of this year-long process is naturally the finals in Dhaka at the BTV auditorium. The frenzied excitement of the live telecast, the winner finally declared, and the million-dollar smile on the child's face. The anti-climax starts from the time the winners walks down from the podium. The 10 minutes of glory over with, the talent disappears behind the stage, and is never heard of again.

There are exceptions of course. Ishita in the role of a young village girl Falani, who brought tears to the eyes of the TV spectators at the Notun Kuri competition some 12 years back. Or Tarana Halim, Tarin and Shawon who won the championship trophy for winning three consecutive events in performing arts. But for the thousands more, there is literally no plan to groom or develop the budding artists.

Its not that we don't have the infrastructure. Shilpakala Academy, and other institutions have the resources, the teachers, the physical buildings that can easily be utlised to take these children to the next level.

The competition gives us a head start by filtering the best talents of the country. By providing education and cultural scholarships to the 'talented few', the authorities can foster the development of the future artistes. If not the government, the big private firms or the multinationals can step in easily. They already sponsor sports and spend millions. Why not on something more lasting?

This will not only help enormously improve our cultural standard, but the performers, once reaching maturity, would be better able to represent the cultural aspects of our country at home and abroad.

And if we take one quick look at our neighboring countries, we see how the winners of talent shows are simply scooped up by the private media companies. And sure enough, within a short time "released" to the world, so we can stand in awe at their performances. And it is these artists who promote their culture internationally, invigorate the industry and keep the wheels of the ever evolutionary culture, rolling.

If we could but take a leaf out of such success stories, we just might be surprised at the results. And in a country starved for local cultural performances, shows by the Notun Kuri artists can be a massive crowd puller both by private channels and privately packaged programs sold overseas to expatriate communities. Not to mention the talent pool we can create to promote our rich heritage at the international stage.

With all the effort spent in getting the tournament this far, it's a pity to see how we are letting this opportunity slip away in front of our eyes. Like our beloved cricket, if we can't hold on to our "catches", it will be our culture that will be the ultimate loser.

It is a pity to see how our lethargy is costing us our future.