Nestling with Nightingales
mania of the music and entertainment industry has finally
engulfed our teenagers (and some of us "weaker"
individuals.) Be it evident from brisk sales in CD and DVDs
(with 75 remixes by Baby Doll), the viewing of MTV, Indian
movies, or even our local talents touting their wares to moderated
adulation and ovations in the Army Stadium. Add to these the
infrequent 'prestigious' shows of American jazz at the Osmani,
the local B&H talent hunts, the hotchpotch of various
soirees during the "Pahila Boishakh" at different
venues, or the present adulation for Baul/Lalon renditions.
If these were not enough, we now have the "Close-Up"
call, to select a few national 'idols' who will lead the foray
into the future. The hunt is on and many a heart will break
along the way (of participants and viewers alike).
as always, has thrived in music. The present day 'band' fans,
display their appreciation at outdoor gigs by stomping one
foot after another, or both together, two hands in the air,
fingers in disarray, ranging from semi victory signs, to thumbs
up, to even rude gestures. Rhythm is not the factor here,
nor scales, nor beat (unlike the unique sway of Africa with
their reggae). It is an unimpressive display of simply prancing
about like a bunch of apes and the like on a grassy knoll
where you have scattered some nuts. The Indian "non-Bengal"
version is no better. Daler Mehedi has succeeded in his display
of the bhangra genre by ripples emitted from the navel upwards,
under tight saffron brocade tunics. While you do the bhangra,
the hand must be up (where it belongs), you have to have a
plastic smile, and being a male, you unabashedly twist your
chest muscles to create a ripple. How much longer are we to
feel good at the Amitabh swagger (his dance routine) , a round
the arm action, hands parallel to the ground, fingers pointing
forwards and the legs doing a "one-two and a one-two"
to from his "Deewar" days to his present day "Baghbaan"?
TV has taken the sub continent by storm, relegating the babes
in "Bay Watch" and even "Friends" down
the ladder. The elder viewers are on to soaps, "Saans
bhi kabhi bahu thi (Mother-in-law was also a daughter-in-law
once)". And why not? With relationships between wives
and mothers-in-law being at the lowest ebb today, it is not
a dent to propriety if they snigger at each other while watching
the programme together, (while the poor husband/son looks
over bawling children). Additionally, for the emancipated
couples, there are DVDs (you may choose from rush print to
master print) of "Murder," "Julie", "Page
3", etc to view when the parents have retired. They revel
in the "item" songs where damsels are (un) dressed
to kill and not related to the movie in any way except to
prance about with the heroes in undersized T shirts. Surely
this appeals much more to the aesthetic sense of the frustrated
viewer than to watch Nicole Kidman in "Cold Mountain.'
(Nicole in "Eyes Wide Shut" is of course altogether
a different proposition). For whetting the local appetite,
Bipasha, Sushmita or Malaika are better bets since they are
from "next door" and can tickle the viewer's imagination.
we hear about piracy laws and copyrights, nothing is being
done to curb pure plagiarism as yet. Enter, the "Indian
Idols" in Dhaka. "Junoon" became history, "Strings"
became their supporting act and thousands of viewers went
into an emotional involvement. That the programme on TV was
successful and watched by millions is fine by me. But what
followed, was the excessive hype created, bordering on lunacy.
Dey (left) Mehedi Hassan (right)
has led our younger generation to swoon over Rahul and Amit,
(at least one wearing a brown leather jacket in mid April's
stifling humidity), in their recent visit? Many mature and
seemingly intelligent people have (over) indulged in their
fan fare, which borders on pure absurdity. Either they have
no sense of music or they seriously have nothing better to
lean their intellectual mind set on. This was not even the
Abhijeet (who won the contest) show. In the absence of the
macaw, the viewers had no hesitation to drab the crows in
peacock plumage. Our starved viewers suddenly transformed
simple participants of a talent contest on TV, (belting out
Indian film songs sung by other artistes), into demi-gods.
Never before has mediocrity been adulated in such a way. One
could very easily find similar performers any day in Park
Street, Kolkata (memories of Blue Fox over chilled beer or
dinner at Trincas circa 1980s, to refresh your memory). So
what draws our crowds, specially our teenagers onto these
over hyped performances? Do our own performers, in comparison,
lack looks, height, skin colour and vocals or are our local
talents incapable of wearing jeans, jackets and gyrating their
hips and torso. Pray, why should we be subjected to such impudence
and trash, imported frequently from abroad? Do we have to
be this desperate?
is time to set priorities. I however stand bewildered when
teenagers sing along to every word breathed out by the "idols"
in their live shows. (Many would probably not remember the
words of the national anthem, but that is another fable).
Discovery of any talent is a revelation, an honour and a joy.
But, we seem to have erred when many who swoon over the 'idols'
have never heard of the likes of Koushiki Bhowmik (Ajoy Chokrobortis
daughter) or Norah Jones. Instead, adulations attributed to
the trifle immature fanfare of two young TV aspirants on the
stages of Dhaka recently, can only reveal a startling fact.
That priorities have changed, rather radically.
sulk, with an unfortunate dwindling few, and try to wipe the
dust out of old LP sleeves and CDs. Sounds emitting from our
cheapish speakers are being drowned by a remix of "Neele
neele ambar mein" or "Pass na aaon ga" from everywhere.
"Kal ho na ho" though, could have some grain of truth,
when you consider how ordinary the songs are as are the singers.
It seems we are into the new genre of 'progressive' listening,
which nullifies most, if not all, that music stood for in the
I will either join the majority , or will
have to ask Mehdi Hassan or Manna Dey to do a remix of their
hit songs (and video themselves in brown leather jackets).
Even Abhijeet (Sr) or Babul Supriyo does not stand a chance
anymore (there were ten times more people at the Idols show
compared to Supriyo at a local club venue).
I feel guilty today for having given my parents
a quizzical look when they swooned over Dilip Kumar or Madhubala.
Or when their eyes became misty listening to Saigal or Shamshad
Begum. I could never understand why they then scoffed at Kishore.
I understand now and therefore I try to be more adaptable
(not by choice but by default). While the artistes of yesteryears
have their own style and fan following, I wonder where do
the "idols" belong and what category I should place
Our young listeners and viewers should be
careful not to mistake music with mimicry or simply noise
or a stage show. (Why on earth our local maestros have to
do a Cher's "Do you believe in love" kind of voice
distortion in not one but a series of Bangla ballads also
defies logic. First of all we do not have an arresting or
captivating voice. Secondly, whatever we have, is being distorted
the wrong way instead of improving it).
In retrospect, I do not doubt the talents
displayed by the "imported" aspirants and performers.
Time will impart maturity and time may propel them towards
deserved fame. Till that does occur and they do eventually
become worthy of the adulation shown (untimely and premature,
as of now), I shall resent the excesses shown by our music
lovers. These have been superfluous and over rated . I fear
a repetition of sentiments when I read that there will be
a further influx of other 'idols' soon. Close encounters,
yet again, where the safety aspects of an already fragile
infrastructure will be put to test. Orthodox I may be, but
by virtue of the very vast spectrum of music I have subjected
myself to, I cannot help but state unequivocally that the
'idols', in their present form, are but crows trying to nestle
(R) thedailystar.net 2005