Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, December 2, 2004










Likes: New musical instruments, movies, shutki and bhaat, sushi and playing live shows
Hates: Fakeness or facades, shrewd people who exploit others…and carrots.
Hours spent sleeping: Good day: 10 14 Bad day: 8 or less
Lives in: my own apartment in NYC
Believes that: Fate is inevitable
Hopes for: success, good health, respect and more new musical instruments.
Plays the: drums, keyboard, bass guitar and guitar.
Biggest 'mentionable' sin ever: misleading bad singers to come and record at my studio, where I overcharge them depending on how bad is bad . . .
Biggest inspiration: Parents, brothers, better half, and AR Rahman.

Q: Take us through your life...(in brief please)
A: I was born in Bangladesh - August 6th, 1980 to a very musically inclined family. My father, M.A. Muqtadir, and mother, Najmus Sama, were always inspiring my brothers and me to be musically skilled. Unlike my brothers Rahaat and Nicky, I did not receive any formal training in music (eastern traditional). Ironically I have become the one who is a musician by profession.
Aside from all the support I had from my family to be a musician, I also enjoyed and motivated myself to make my way through the musical domain. I never liked toys. I used to play with all the audio equipment around my house such as tape recorders, answering machines and anything else I could find to assist me in my toy-recording studio. I started playing the keyboard after my brother Rahaat bought me a small Casio when I was 10. Then, after a year my Nicky bhaiya got me a really nice pro keyboard when I was 13. I entered my band Zefyr in 1993. After playing with Zefyr as a keyboardist for 2 years I became interested in the drums - because I realized I always had an inclination towards rhythm. I started practicing and within a few months I became the drummer of my band. Even until today I consider myself best at drums. I play bass guitar, and some guitars as well, the skill comes in handy at recording sessions. I can always count on myself as a back up if the guitarist calls in a sick day.

Q: Do you think that if you had grown up in Dhaka you would be doing the same thing and be the same person?
It's really hard to say . . . I think I would definitely be in a band but I am not sure if I would be a producer. And I definitely wouldn't have such a nice studio. As far as the type of person I would definitely be different from who I am now. Human beings are half predisposed to their personality traits by genetics and half by their social interactions from childhood. I am a product of the society in which I have grown. I am a product of a weird 'Banglamerican' culture.

Q: So how far did your parents help out in your obvious infatuation towards music?
They have always urged me to excel in music but they also wanted it to be a hobby or a passion rather than a profession. I think they wanted me to be a part of the corporate world like my brothers rather then in the entertainment industry, because of the prestige of the white-collar world.

Q: Cross border music seems to be working fine for you...so how does everything fall into place?
It's actually the biggest hurdle to try to get the masters and covers back and forth but I am dealing with it. Thank God for the Internet and broadband. Shumon bhai (bass baba) definitely is a great contact to have in Dhaka. He helped with the 'Kranti' release, as he is known to be extremely helpful towards musicians and bands.

Q: So if music is your full-time career, how on earth do you make the money to survive?
As I mentioned before, there is a dark and secret side of Fuad that I don't usually reveal to those who associate me with Zefyr, Kranti and Maya. As a day job I produce music for the Bangladeshi commercial industry. (I don't use my name in these albums) doing folk remakes, and other pop-commercial endeavors that are up to par with the current typical stuff that is out in the market right now. I also work for Showtime Music, a company that sponsors Bangladeshi singers to come and tour in the US. So 4/5 months out of a year I am on tour as a drummer for people like Bappy Laheri, Manna Dey, Sabina Yasmin, Andrew Kishore, Fatema Tuzzohura, Baby Nazneen, Asif, Kumar Bishwajit, Tapan Chowdhury, Dolly Shayantoni, SD Rubel, Kaya, Kangalini Sufia, Shakila Zafar, Ankhi Alamgir, Jewel, Ayub Bachchu, James, Hassan, Biplob, Polash and Rizia, Mumtaz, Kala Mia, Suvra Dev, Pantho Kanai, Mehreen, Konok Chapa and Kaniz Shuborna.

Q: 'Dedicated to the leaders of our dying nation' please comment…
Well the dedication is just sarcasm. The leaders are actually accountable for the shattered state of our country. Looking inward from outside the box you can really see how pathetic and order less things are and how the world perceives us.

Q: So do you think 'undermining' the current state of our nation internationally will serve for the greater good?
Well, I am not claiming to be the saviour, nor do I think one song may serve to augment the status quo of an entire nation, but realization is certainly a step towards betterment. I want our generation to see the problem and to come out of their sheltered "M-TV" state-of-mind. I am not making a generalization about the entire youth population but in my personal experiences most of my encounters with kids from back home have reflected individuals who are oblivious of how the world views our country.

Q: Did you expect 'Maya' to be as widely accepted as it has been?
Not at all! I didn't think it would even reach Dhaka. Maya was a small community based project and alearning experience for me. I was really surprised to realize that people actually know the CD. Also now that I have matured as a musician and producer since Maya, it is sometimes embarrassing for me. And I always make it a point to tell people that I was only eighteen when I produced those CDs.

Q: In 'Kranti' the 'bloopers' tracks at the end are nice…it gives us the audience the rare opportunity to 'feel' what goes on in a studio…was that the whole idea?
Absolutely. Albums are always served to us in a nice platter, that's so formal and perfect. I wanted the listeners to understand our personalities as well as our music. And it was just really funny.

Q: What would be the first thing you'd do when you come to Bangladesh?
Check out all the studios . Meet up with all my favourite bands.

Q: You work with big time commercial musicians/famous Bangladeshi musicians like Baby Nazneen/Ayub Bachhu...is that you?
Well, it's certainly a side of me. I respect all sides of the spectrum. I love Baby apa's set just as much as I love Shakib bhai and Jon's (CF and Black).

Q: If not where is the real you? (Zefyr/Maya/Kranti/yet to be discovered?)
I think you can find the real me in MAYA 3 and "Evolution".

Q: Why did you choose to remake a song Evanescence in Bangla?
Trust me on this! No one hates cheesy Bangla remakes more than me. But the song "Amra Kromosho" was a milestone in Kranti's history. It was the first song we did and it helped us decide which way we want to take the album. So, for sentimental reasons we included the song. I know a lot of people might frown upon it, but it seemed like the right choice.

Q: Performing on stage in front of fans and foes vs. sitting around with friends in the middle of a field with a guitar n tambourine and singing whatever the hell you want to…which one?
On stage!!! I like the rush! I don't like the whole sitting around on campus with an acoustic scene. My approach to music is less artistic and more technical and professional.

Q: What do you think of the Bangladeshi music scene? (Underground and mainstream)
The underground scene has shed some light to what was a lost case. I think these guys like ABC, and even the younger bands are playing a magnificent part in order to get us out of the slumps imposed by the FDC and the commercial market.
On the other hand, I also respect people like Bacchu bhai and James bhai for their experience and their tricks-of-the-trade. I sympathize with them because they are not able to produce the music of their preference at all times. They are professionals with families to feed through their music and are often dictated by their record labels. They have to cater to the cha-er dokan to survive, just like how I have to record bangla cinemar gaan in my studio - to pay bills. I got bills - because as soon as I deviated from the path that my family chose for me and became a professional musician I entered a state of war. So I can't receive any commodities from the other side.

Q: What can we expect next from you?
Well, with the release of Kranti I think I have gained the trust of some underground musicians in Dhaka. I am collaborating with some of the prominent figures on a trip-hop/hip-hop/rock/DnB album called "Evolution". Also I have just started MAYA 3 and I really have high expectations from the last of the Maya series albums. Ar jeta neeye ami shob theke beshi excited: it's my Sylheti rap/hip-hop album. This one is going to be hilarious.

Q: Aside from your family is there anyone else who deserves to be mentioned?
My partner in crime Luberz, Richard bhai, my biggest well wisher Monir bhai, my best friend Shihab, Rajib, Nayo, Paul, and my tech advisor Shomi bhai.

By Rashaam and meenz

Half Life 2

By Niloy

Out of the ashes of an evil alien occupation, mankind's tattered remnants attempt to form an ineffective resistance against their technocratic masters.

The endless source of inspiration for their efforts is one man, a four-eyed physicist that stuck it to the aliens and corporate forces of evil once before, armed with nothing more than determination, ingenuity, and a crowbar.

Gordon Freeman is back, ladies and gentlemen, and we are happy to report that all you have heard about this game so far, all the praise, all the endless proselytizing about its graphics and gameplay and aural excellence was not hype after all. It was all understatement.

While the game is not a revolution of FPS gaming, it is as removed from the rest of its contemporary siblings as a car-driving urban citizen is removed from a prehistoric ape. This is gaming evolution at its best, the current peak of first-person shooters, and it will take the competition a good few tries to make a similar gigantic leap.

Everything in the game is integrated to near perfection, and it all works together to provide the player with a seamless experience that is as unique as it is exceptionally involving.

The world of Half Life 2 is extremely realistic, and the fact that everything is so true to life gives an impression of simplicity in the graphics that could not be any more misleading. Because everything is exactly where it should be, and behaves exactly as it should behave, it hardly ever gets noticed. Then you will stop in the middle of a street, realizing that the game is modestly providing your eyes with a realistic rendering of an entire town, complete with reflections on glass, asphalt and metal, a perfect polygonal skyline dominated by the harsh Combine citadel and multiple fully skinned and animated high-polygon character and vehicle models, all without missing a step or making it look like a video game. That's what I call a religious experience.

When a 20 meter tall alien strider assaults you, there are no design shortcuts, no sections where you face it one piece at a time: you will be confronted with a fully detailed and animated twenty-meters tall alien strider smashing through buildings and people, in the middle of a devastated but fully rendered and populated town, with your resistance allies running scared for cover, their fear perfectly visible in their faces and motions.

Talking about technical effects and details in this game would be grossly disrespectful.

Everything in the game, and we do mean every single thing, can be interacted with. No static background objects here. If you can see it, you can use it for cover, manipulate it to your advantage, or bang it on your enemy's heads. From pebbles to water to 2-ton trucks respond as expected, as they obey the laws of mass, friction, gravity, and buoyancy.

The degree of integration with the game world is, like the graphics, in a league of its own. Half Life 2 finally delivers us from the gaming canon where the arena was limited to the player, the enemies, his gun and a whole bunch of obstacles to use for strategic advantage. Here the world is a living, breathing thing, and it will react to your actions and your enemy's equally. Gunfights are taken to a whole new level, as you are now able to creatively exploit the environment to give you the upper hand in combat, or suffer the consequences if you ignore it. Hanging containers, to mention but a small example, are wonderful to crush your enemies with, but they will just as readily drop on your own head, with similar squishy results.

As well as providing an incredible, truly open-ended experience, the game offers more gameplay than two or three lesser games put together. On the trip through the single-player campaign, Mr. Freeman will fight, explore, drive, fly and platform jump his way in an incredible story with right narrative and practically zero filler content. There is no repetition and no backtracking here. Every single second on foot, buggy, and hovercraft will be unique and fresh.

This is the game that in one form or another, all PC players will get to experience in the next couple of years. Get this game, you will really only be doing yourselves a favour. This is the game that shatters rating scales. By giving it "only" a 10, we should be knocking five points off almost every other game that came before it.

Polish that crowbar. There's mysteries to be solved, massive battles to fight, and some alien bullies to school. Welcome back, Mr. Freeman.

We are now one step closer to the Matrix.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Review by Gokhra

Last week I was saying moviemakers would try anything and this week the saying remains. From muppets and puppets to CGI animation there's no stopping for the makers. Where Garfield was an animated character surrounded by real sets, fellow animals and people, Sky Captain consists of real people in a completely digital world. But don't lose heart thinking that the graphics are like a child's painting book like in Spy Kids 3D.

Everything in "Sky Captain" was created on that wonder of wonders: the computer.

The Plot: It's a retro while at the same time futuristic New York. The make believe world of a highly stylized 1939 is set for a great sci fi scene. There's an evil mysterious madman named Totenkopf who is a World War I type German scientist with plans of world domination. Hi robots are plundering the generators and oil refineries of the world for reasons revealed late in the game.

Where there are evildoers there must be the good guys (and gals). Enter Jude Law who plays Joe Sutphin, a.k.a. Sky Captain, a heroic late-'30s flyboy with an airbase and a private force of can-do pilots nestled in the mountains just north of Manhattan.

The appearance of a squadron of giant airborne robots sent by Totenkopf early in the movie gets Joe flying down Broadway in his Tomahawk. For the time being he sends the robots scurrying. Down on the ground he unites with his past and future girlfriend, Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Totenkopf kidnapped many leading scientists so that they can be forced to help him take over the world. Also on the side of the good guys are Franky (Angelina Jolie), a sexy pilot with her own agenda, and Dex Dearborn (Giovanni Ribisi), Sky Captain's head of research and development. Things become really personal as Joe's right-hand guy, Dex has also been kidnapped by the villain, so it's Joe to the rescue, with Polly along for the scoop.

It's a simple plot but it's created brilliantly. Sky Captain is made to look and feel like a classic comic book, with depth and dimension to spare. The whole movie is lent a dreamlike trance with scenes shot in a glowing haze. The only thing real in the movie are the actors while everything else has been digitally painted on the canvas of a computer: the sets, the gleaming planes and rocket ships, the Art Deco cityscapes, everything.

The actors did almost all of their scenes in front of a blue screen, which was then replaced with images generated on computers. This permitted a film of enormous scope to be made with a reasonable budget and also freed the makers to do whatever they wanted to, because one digital fantasy cost about as much as another.

It took first-time writer/director Conran 10 years to complete his rollicking machine-animated vision, starting in his basement on a Mac and it paid off as a great looker.

Also Law and Paltrow are funny. Lack of humor would have simply killed the movie. The characters here bicker and banter through robot attacks and dynamite explosions boasting real chemistry. Of course, they no time for a kiss as they are too busy running about.

It's a film that escaped from the imagination directly onto the screen. The best part is that it does not pretend to be any bit realistic.

Sites Unseen

By Niloy

This week, I'm giving a few links to some flash animations, not only because they are worth a few laughs but because they ROCK! Also, if you are interested about downloading MP3 files, check out www.mp3.elizov.com. It's a neat site and has quite a big collection (and it's somehow legal). But most important thing is that this site doesn't bug you while you are searching for songs. (Thanks to Tafhim ul Islam for the link.)

Lord of the Flies
"this is A Story of four friends who got KILLED by A FLY, And I DO MEAN A FLY as IN those little pesky little things that bug you about when you are eating or watever, they fly you know. SO sit back and relax and watch some stupidity in action!" It's a flash animation and it's only 400 kb.

Who knew desktop icons could be so violent?
Calm and quiet desktop icons that have nothing to do but to point to your favourite (or "un-favourite") applications and games suddenly come alive and start whacking each other ruthlessly. Neat and cool to watch. It's about 600kb.

Smart women!
How do you keep an Idiot busy? Ans: you could a) write PTO on both sides of a blank sheet of paper and give it to him or b) point him to this link. (You could replace Idiots with blondes/Bush/ dumb person of your choice). Joking aside, this little animation (270 kb) accompanies a true conversation between a woman who "locked herself inside a car" and an emergency call answerer.

Building With Books
What does a booklover's ideal bedroom look like? It's filled with books, of course. But these books aren't just stuffed in bookcases and piled on the floor; they're the building blocks of the furnishings. Taking a novel approach to building furniture, these MIT artists constructed every stick of furniture in this bedroom using old, discarded, and donated books. The surprisingly comfortable bed and its pillow, sheet, and quilt supply both reading and sleeping material. This room was made for book lovers, no matter what their taste in reading -- or building -- material.

Hit the Looser
This is an addictive game with some similarities with Pool. But the concept is different and you got only 2 balls to deal with. And instead of pushing the ball, you got to pull a string attached to the ball.

Bata Shoe Museum
Next time you find yourself limping at the end of the day and cursing your shoemaker, take a virtual step into the Bata Shoe Museum to see how much worse it could have been. The museum's online collections record the evolution of sandals, slippers, clogs, and boots from around the world over the past 4500 years.

That's all for this week. Enjoy! If you need to contact me for anything, mail me at niloy.me@gmail.com


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