are we so Indefferent towards Our songs and music
was during the last Eid that I went to buy a new CD cum cassette
player. The electronic shop was overflowing with Eid time buyers,
as this particular outlet was the agent of a very famous brand in
the CD and cassette player business. Sounds blared from all directions
as several customers were trying the CD/cassette players of their
choice before finalising their purchase. I couldn't help but notice
that only Hindi songs were being played, the popular tunes that
one can't help but hear in the dozens of Hindi channels that we
get here in Bangladesh.
particularly fond of Hindi songs I wanted to hear some of my favourite
Bangla songs in the new CD player that I was about to buy. After
all I was buying it for myself and I wanted to find out how my favourite
songs would sound in it. So I asked for any CD of Tagore or Nazrul
songs. His apology indicated that he did not have any. I widened
his option and asked for any CD of any type of Bangla songs. The
salesman was visibly embarrassed and confessed that his shop did
not keep any demonstration CD of Bangla songs.
my outrage his pat reply was that no customer had asked for it before.
I had to face the fact that he may be telling the truth because
it did not make any sense for the shop not to keep even one Bangla
CD if the customers wanted it. Just to satisfy myself I stayed in
the shop for the next hour and observed to my deep sorrow that every
CD or cassette player bought were being tried out on Hindi songs.
Maybe to tease me or to make his point, the salesman attending to
me said “Dekhlen toe Sir”.
then I have been to many CD/cassette shops and have been amazed
by the huge stock of Hindi songs and the paucity of the Bangla offerings.
In one shop I asked if he had any songs of Pankaj, and the salesperson
immediately brought me a cassette of Pankaj Udas. He confessed to
never having heard of Pankaj Mallik.
one goes to mid range popular restaurants that provide TV monitors
for the entertainment of guests invariably they will show music
videos of Hindi songs. Last week I went for a hair cut and was forced
to suffer a good forty minutes of the same.
point I am making here is that there is in an inexplicable indifference
among us about our own music. I have nothing against Hindi, Urdu
or Western music but how can I tolerate an environment where very
little support is being given to promote our own music and songs?
We lived in Thailand for a good five years and saw how the Thais
promote their own music. Their musical heritage is not particularly
richer than ours. The truth is we do not promote our musicians or
our music as vigorously as our rich heritage and our artistes deserve.
will readily admit that there is a certain charm of Hindi music.
There are some extremely talented music composers, lyricists and
singers in the Hindi film world. Conversely we do not have anybody
replacing the genius of Hemanta, Feroza, Sandhya, Manabendra, Ferdousi,
Shyamal in today's music world. Our Runas and Sabinas did not get
the support of talented lyricists, composers and music directors
the Hindi singers get. Playback singing which promotes songs and
music through successful films have also not helped our cause very
much, as there is nothing much to say about our films.
to the credit of exponents of Tagore and Nazrul songs we still have
a vibrant group of listeners for that category of music. But still
it has not grown to the level that it deserves. The most pathetic
situation exists in the case of modern Bangla songs. Here the lyrics
and the music are at such a miserable state that most of us have
turned away from them. But there are some superb voices whose songs
are comparable to the most talented anywhere. But they are not getting
our support. I have heard some fresh new voices who can easily make
enchanting records given the due support. They definitely need our
patronisation. Just the other day two young singers from outside
Dhaka held a small audience totally captivated. As I was listening
to them I couldn't help wonder what these talented artists could
do for us given proper exposure and support.
are some incredible voices in the folk arena and there has been
a cassette revolution of sorts where some artists are known to have
a huge following. Much to the credit of our band groups, they have
helped to bring back our youngsters to Bangla songs and music. The
songs and music of these band groups were looked down upon at the
beginning as some kind of vulgar distortion of our music. But it
is they who have, in my view, made the most effective contribution
in bringing the youth back to Bangla music through their innovation
and adoption of modern forms and musical instruments.
bottom line is that we must promote our own music and our musicians.
We are not suggesting a narrowing of our focus nor the exclusion
of outside music. In fact the very opposite. We must hear and enjoy
music from all over the world but at the same time promote our own.
Look at countries like France, Spain, Japan or any other country
whose music tradition is as rich as ours. They have modernised and
adopted new music forms and instruments but they never abandoned
their own music.
is a certain ambivalence in us about our musical heritage. There
are those among us who are great lovers of Tagore and Nazrul songs.
But they are a special group. Our folk music also has a very large
following. But if we see the status of our artists, the financial
constraints they live under and the money they make from their musical
career, the scene is quite depressing. The condition of our musicians
is even worse. The recent trend of holding musical soirees in private
homes and paying artists and music hands for performing in them
is opening a very narrow avenue for the artists to earn some extra
money. But that is hardly adequate. The real answer lies in large-scale
societal patronisation of our music. We must support music institutions
and our newspapers must promote our artists. Our corporate world
must sponsor big national musical events so that artists can perform
in them and receive national recognition. Both the government TV
channels and the private ones must show innovations in their programmes
to promote newer talents. In this regard a word of praise must be
added for the Bengal Foundation for their sponsorship of local artists
to make CDs and cassettes. They have done a great job and others
should follow their example.