Vol. 5 Num 925 Fri. January 05, 2007  

Closeup 1 '06
New voices, unadulterated popularity

Three contenders, Muhin, Salma and Nishita were pitted against each other at the recent grand finale of Closeup 1 Tomakei Khujchhey Bangladesh '06. The live telecast of the show, held at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre, roped in a pack of cultural celebrities. The high point of the programme was performances by finalists from last year's Closeup 1 and the current contenders. There was tension in the air as the curtains went up with the four finalists of Closeup1, 2005 and 40 finalists of Closeup1, 2006 singing a medley, Drishti amar digontey.

Towards the close of the event, a nervous Salma and Muhin awaited the announcement of the winner of Closeup1, 2006. Finally the hosts Debashish Biswas and Samia Afreen jointly made the much-awaited announcement with their characteristic flair. The youngest among the finalists, Salma Akhter from Kushtia won the coveted title. She walked away with Tk 10 lakh, a brand new car and loads of other gifts. She received 17,96,931 SMS votes from the viewers and 40 marks from the judges. The chairman of Unilever Bangladesh Ltd, Sanjiv Mehta, handed over the cheque to the winner while Naushad Chowdhury, director, Brands and Development, Unilever Bangladesh Ltd; Asaduzzaman Noor, deputy director of Asiatic and Aly Zaker, chief executive officer of Asiatic were also present.

Muhin from Rajshahi and Nishita from Chittagong were the first and second runners-up respectively. The first and second runner-up received Tk 5 and 3 lakh. Rest of the top seven contestants received Tk 1 lakh each. The top 10 will get a chance to perform at concerts in Europe and North America.

The trio who judged the event are familiar faces in the Bangladeshi music industry -- Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul, Fahmida Nabi and Kumar Bishwajit. However, the final decision was made by TV viewers through SMS and Internet votes.

Here's what the three finalists of Closeup 1 had to say:

An elated Salma said, "I am very happy. I never thought of reaching this level. I feel bad for those who couldn't make it to the top, but I think we all are winners."

Going back to those eventful days of Closeup 1, Salma said, "I still remember the day when I was standing amidst a huge crowd in Khulna and wondering whether I had a chance. It was a great feeling to be here for six months. There was pressure, as there were so many talented singers around. I never thought of participating in a talent show on television."

Talking about her achievements, she said, "There is a major improvement in my singing. I can't explain how it happened. I have tried to improve my Bangla diction and singing. The judges have helped in my grooming process and supported me throughout the contest."

Asked about his instant reaction after results, Muhin said, "I was hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. At the back of mind I always had a feeling that I might be eliminated someday. So I always faced the audience boldly. But at the same time I have worked very hard to give my best."

About his future plans, he said, "I want to take up singing as a career. My parents have encouraged me to sing since my childhood. Without my parents I couldn't have become a singer."

Talking about her performance in the final round, Nishita said, "I believe that there was no shortfall in my performance. The audience seemed very happy with my performance during the final recording. I gave my 100 percent. I don't think anything went wrong in the final performance. But I don't think that the audience was wrong either. I feel bad because I couldn't fulfil the expectations of everyone. There were three contestants and only one could receive the title. I am happy for Salma."

"I got more than I expected. And yes, I will prove myself in the music industry," she added.

From left: Salma, Muhin and Nishita at the finale of Closeup 1 '06