Future of the Bangali Identity
21, 1952 people from then known as East Pakistan united to establish
Bangla as an official language. The movement demonstrated such
pride and love for language that, in 1999, the UNESCO declared
this day International Mother Language Day. The determination
of Bangali people, not only became a universal phenomenon, but
also set an example for cultures all over the world.
fifty years later, that same determination and pride is somewhat
missing. The lack of pride in our culture and language is evident
in many aspects in our society, most noticeably in the music
that we listen to. With the onslaught of Bollywood Film maska
chaska, Hindi pop, and Western hip hop and alternative rock
beats, Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrul Geeti and folk music are almost
lost and forgotten names in a culture which, not too long ago,
prided itself on its musical acumen.
our music is not dying, its population is wearing thin. There
is something about old Bangla music that does not appeal to
the younger generation as much.
music introduced new trends and style up until the 1960's,"
says a Rabindra Sangeet singer from the older generation. "However,
in the 90's, it did not catch up with the innovations and technical
finesse that Western music or even Bollywood music introduced.
It still is the kind of music that can touch your soul and connect
you to nature instantaneously. However, with the modern trend
of music becoming a collective art, Bangla music still remains
individualistic. This is perhaps why it fails to sustain the
interest of the younger generation."
music that my parents listen to is really melodious, but it
is kind of boring," says Sharmee, a college student. "My
parents are always telling me that I should be more involved
in my own culture and stop listening to Hindi songs, but Hindi
songs are so catchy. It's the same with Western songs, there
is just something about them that makes you listen. I wish Bangla
musicians would get the clue."
for Sharmee, musicians in Bangladesh are "getting a clue."
The younger generation is now realising that to keep their musical
heritage, it may be necessary to innovate techniques and create
the kind of music that will capture universal appeal. At the
risk of losing what some old school musicians call the originality
of Bangla music, fusion music in Bangladesh incorporates a new
style of music along with the language and flavour of Bengal.
cue from their Bangladeshi counterparts in the UK (such as State
of Bengal and Joy, who specialize in Drum and Bass music with
a Bangali twist), musicians such as those of Bangla and Habib
have taken Dhaka city by storm with their music.
Bangladesh's new phenomena, is known for its integration of
Baul music and the ektaara in their compositions. Their second
album Kinkortobbo Bimorho, features a lot of Lalon Shongit,
a sub-category of Baul music. Habib, on the other hand, focuses
on a more drum and bass style, with songs like Krishno, the
title track on his first album.
has set certain standards for fusion music in Bangladesh, by
mixing Lalon music and making it accessible to the mass population,"
says Ashiq, a fan of Bangla. "I love Anushe's voice and
Buno's compositions. They are all talented in their own way."
terms of Habib, his music has more western fusion music in it.
It sounds a lot like A.R. Rahman."
A fan of
A.R. Rahman, Habib is interested in promoting Bangla music not
just in the global sense, but also to bring it back home.
hard to say if Bangla fusion music will make it abroad,"
he says. "At the end of the day, the lyrics are still in
Bangla, so how would people who didn't speak or understand the
language be able to appreciate it?"
the real music of Bangladesh is folk music. "I want to
make music for the masses, and the masses are familiar with
the folk style," he says. "For me, this is what defines
the definition of Bangla music is, fusion music in Bangladesh
is slowly reviving Bangla culture in the hearts of the younger
generation -- the generation that our parents thought had lost
all love for their people. There is hope, yet. The feeling of
singing in one's mother tongue is unparallel to singing in any
other. For a culture that has sacrificed so much to make its
language heard and acknowledged, fusion music comes as a sort
of dark knight in rusting armour. Although it is not an exact
copy of the original, it is formed around the basics, therefore
keeping alive the Bangla pride that our people are now globally