grew among the five hundred people gathered at the International
Club in Gulshan on Thursday, October 23 for its India Night
show, and co-organised by Jetset P.R. Some of them were
on the dance floor enjoying the opening act performance
of Calcutta's Shane, some were sitting down and eating dinner
while others were walking around and “socialising.” The
lights dimmed, the crowd waited and a beat pulsed. A man
with faded dusty-blue jeans, Nike sneakers, a spiky hair-do
and rings on all fingers stepped on stage and started singing.
A group of four dancers in sequined outfits joined him on
stage as he started the title track on his first hit album
-- Kya Soorat Hai inspired from Kishore Kumar's
Zaroorat Hai. People sang along as he belted out
“I am just an ordinary guy, I ain't no macho man, I
ain't no high-fi.”
to what he may think (or sing) Neeraj Shridhar, better known
to the South Asian Subcontinent as 'Bombay Vikings,' is
not 'just an ordinary guy' to his fans.
“Our show was sold out,” says a Committee member from the
International Club. “He seemed to be very popular from the
turnout. So many people came and seemed to enjoy the show.”
has so much energy on-stage, and seems to really enjoy the
crowd,” says nineteen-year old Tariq. “He has a wonderful
voice and I love his beats. But I wish he sang for a longer
time. It seemed a little too short.”
Vikings also performed at the after party for the BGMEA-sponsored
BATEXPO (Bangladesh Apparel Textiles Exposition) at Sonargaon
on Tuesday, October 21 and in the Chittagong Club on October
24th. The events were all organised by Jetset P.R.
P.R. (JPR) is Dhaka's first event management company, originally
set up in London by CEO Mishal Karim in 1995. Before Karim
brought the company to Dhaka in 2001, JPR organised several
international shows and events such as the Elite Model Look
of the Year Fashion Show, the Karl Kani Fashion Show and
the Bad Boy Record Launch Party.
representative offices in Calcutta, Mumbai and London, it
is the first company in Bangladesh that organises “international
standard productions and has the experience of hosting major
functions in New York, Cyprus, London and India.”
from event management, JPR also organises fashion shows,
multimedia productions, concerts, product launchings, media
consultancies, and international artist bookings.
Bangladesh, JPR has a client list of multinational companies
such as British American Tobacco Limited, BMW, Mercedes-Benz,
Volvo and HSBC. It has also managed events such as the French
Trade Commission in March 2002, the Pitambari Show in September
2002 and two consecutive New Year's parties in 2002 and
2003 at both the Sonargaon and Sheraton Hotels. JPR also
promotes artists from Bangladesh such as female vocalist
Laila and local band Pentagon.
event list varies from a Russian Ballet held at the Osmany
Memorial Hall (co-organised with the Russia-Bangladesh Chamber
of Commerce and Industry) to bringing Indian artists such
as Shaan, KK and now Bombay Vikings to Dhaka for live shows.
is great,” says Shridhar. “I live primarily in India and
Sweden, and what strikes me the most about Bangalis is that
everyone here seems so happy. People are always smiling,
even people on the street who may be homeless and poor.
It makes me wonder what they have that people in other big
cities don't have. All my friends who are originally from
Bangladesh have told me about Dhaka but it has totally exceeded
my expectations. I'm very happy to be here.”
crowds in Dhaka also see Shridhar's music as a source of
is a great example of fusion music,” says twenty-one year
old Shazia. “He uses both English and Hindi words, and uses
lots of instruments. You can tell that he has been influenced
by a variety of artists from both the East and West. It's
good for us to be exposed to this kind of music because
we also need to get our music and our culture out there,
and that someone like him has successfully managed to mix
both our kind of music and music from the West means that
there is hope for Bangalis trying to make it in the main-stream
born in a place in North India called Jalandhar, does indeed
have both Western and Indian influences. His Western influences
include artists such as Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin
and Eric Clapton. His favourite Indian artists are Mohammad
Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.
East/West fusion music brings out his own experiences, as
he moved from India to Sweden when he was fourteen.
parents saw the possibilities of me growing musically in
Sweden because I was always composing my own songs and interested
in music,” says Shridhar. “They chose Sweden because my
brother, who is ten years older than me also lives there
and my parents thought it was best to move somewhere with
a relative. I went to school there and studied economics
and mass communications at Stockholm University. Because
I had to support and finance my studies it became difficult
to do music. But I never gave up. I started playing guitar
for recording sessions with other bands. But I got sick
of doing covers and was still trying to do my own songs.
I started a band called Bombay Vikings in 1992. They were
all Swedes. I dismantled the group in 1995 because everyone
wanted to go their own way and do their own production stuff.
It's very hard to keep a band together, and it takes a lot
of time and effort. Now it's just me. I kept the name, and
I do my own recording, instrumentals, singing, mixing and
it was not always easy for the Bombay Viking to do his own
thing about Sweden is that it is really rich in music. Competition
is really tough there. Out of a population of eight million
about six million people are musicians,” he laughs.
result, Shridhar could not rely solely on his music for
an income. He worked as a duty officer at Scandinavian Airlines.
In 1995 he quit his job and formed an advertising company.
first, things were very hard because everything new takes
time,” Shridhar says. “But by 1997 the company was doing
did “an ordinary guy” go from being an Airlines duty officer
to advertising to having three hit albums all over South
was on a train (on his way to rehearse for one of his last
shows with the former Bombay Vikings) when an idea hit him.
was humming Mere Sapno Ki Rani and couldn't remember
the Hindi lyrics. I started singing to myself in English
with the tune of the original -- I laughed at the time,
but it was an idea. I went home that day and recorded it
in my living room, of all places,” Shridhar chuckles. “I
still remember I was living in a flat and was always scared
that the guy downstairs would bang on my door and tell me
to be quiet. In 1995 I recorded a bunch of songs just for
fun, such as Kya Soorat Hai.”
1999 Sony Music released Kya Soorat Hai and it
was “smooth sailing” from there for the Bombay Viking. His
next two albums Woh Chali and Hawa Me Udta
Jaye came out consecutively in 2001 and 2002.
albums and songs were well known to the Dhaka crowds attending
the BATEXPO Show and the International Club India Night.
People sang along, made requests and danced until their
feet were sore. The night drew to a close and the Viking
said his farewell to Dhaka.