Volume 2 Issue 26 | January 19 , 2008 |


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From Chittagong

Concert for a Noble Cause

Rafi Hossain and Zahidul Naim Zakaria from the desk of Star Insight visited port city Chittagong on 11th January, Friday, for a charity concert organized to raise funds for SIDR victims

When Insight was requested to do a story on the event, “HSBC SIDR Charity Concert,” we were a bit unsure since we do not usually cover mainstream cultural events. But two factors attracted our interest. Firstly, the main focus of it was to raise funds to help SIDR affected people in Bangladesh- so there was a cause attached to it. Secondly, three legendary artistes of Bangladesh-- Runa Laila, Sabina Yasmin and Shahnaz Rahmatullah were being united on the same live stage for the first time ever.

The audience found it hard to control their excitement, seeing three of their favourite artists for the first time together. HSBC had organized musical shows before; their programme Shotoborsher Gaan had received a lot of popularity and acclaim. We are very happy that the private sector has come forward with such socially responsible programming. We believe that the long run effects of such initiatives are vital to the growth of art and culture in Bangladesh. If there is more focus on other art forms as well as music, the overall effect on the art and cultural scene in Bangladesh will be greater.

“Believe in quality; not quantity.”
The feeling of performing on the same stage is as special as its memory is precious. And it is even more special since the cause is so noble. I am deeply grateful to the organizers because of the bold step they have taken to realize this noble initiative and have united the three of us in the same show. Even though this is the first time the three of us have performed together, I believe it will not be the last. I am also very happy with the audience here at Chittagong. I always put more emphasis on the quality of my performance rather than on the number of songs; it doesn't matter whether it is a television performance that I am doing, or a film song, or on stage and that's the way I have been all through my career. I am very choosy about the music whenever I perform. There are numerous offers about performing that I had to decline in the days when I was performing almost everyday, and the decision not to accept every offer was based on my choosiness rather than time constraints! And even today, I am just as choosy. Music is my life; it's the most special part of my life. I choose my songs according to the pulse of the audience. And I believe that my audience will love my song as long as it is a good song, regardless of language. This is why my shows usually show some variation from show to show in terms of music and song selection. The most important part of my performance is touching the hearts of the audience with my voice. That's what makes me feel happy. When I am performing live on a stage show, I want to make sure that I perform in such a way that I establish a connection with each and every member of the audience. That's how hard I concentrate. Whenever I have a live show such as this one, I usually spend the entire day prior to the show concentrating and meditating about the songs I am going to perform.

I want to make sure I give the audience my best. I hardly talk to anyone the whole day! Sometimes, I had stopped talking properly to people a couple of day before a big show! I used to record a lot of songs as a playback singer. But now, the film industry is going through some bad times, so I am not involved in playback signing nowadays like before. There are ups and downs of everything, but some people are trying to make things better and hopefully the Bangladeshi film industry will return to normal. Good work such as this concert has my full support, and always will. And whether it is a film song, or a concert, or a television programme, as long as it is good and of high quality, the programme will have my support.

“Young generation should get involved in patriotic songs.”
I believe that the love and blessings of all my fans have cured me, and I am overjoyed to perform live again. I am grateful to all my fans. I am extremely happy about my comeback, and that I have performed with legendary artists like Runa Laila and Shahnaz Rahmatullah. When Shahnaz Rahmatullah was performing, I couldn't help but wish that her elder brother, the late Anwar Parvez, was alive to enjoy this event. He was one of the best music directors of our country, and all three of us have performed quite a few songs directed by him; songs which are extremely popular now.

Nowadays, patriotic songs are not being made as much as before, but I believe that there is tremendous potential amongst the new generation. They just need to be inspired. And events such as this one is a big step in inspiring the youngsters and for that I am really grateful to HSBC for organizing this event. The fact that the songs we sing are still popular with the crowd and that they are still enjoying the golden songs is a matter of pride to me. I encourage the younger generation to come up with more patriotic songs that can really captivate the audience and boost the flame of patriotism in their hearts.

Other than the noble cause that we are contributing to, this event is even more momentous because for the first time in the history of Bangladeshi music, the three of us have performed on the same platform. These artists are not only popular and renowned; they are also my personal favourites. I thank HSBC for their praiseworthy initiative to help the SIDR victims by making this event possible. I think artists like us should share the responsibility of helping those in need. I believe that people from all classes and parts of the country should share this responsibility collectively.

“Artists should be beyond politics.”

I would like to offer endless thanks to the person who has created the concept of this event where the three of us have been united. I am ecstatic! This event will remain in my mind as a golden memoir. Why didn't anyone else think of it sooner? And it was all for such a noble cause! I am happy that an organization has come forward in organizing an event that reinvigorates our sense of responsibility to the society. I believe if other organizations follow the example created by HSBC, positive changes can be brought about in the society and people will be really motivated. I really miss my brother Anwar Parvez, and on this day I am missing him all the more. It's amazing how the song he directed still reach the souls of my audience at home and abroad. But nowadays, I feel that patriotic songs are not being created like before. A good song is the combination of tasteful lyrics, good music and the voice that has practiced the song adequately. Music is my passion, and I take it very seriously. Even today, I always practice before a stage show. There is no alternative to regular practice and dedication if anyone wishes to be a good artist.

I never stopped practicing, but I had disappeared from performing for a while. The truth is I cannot stand the presence politics in art and culture. Art and culture should be above politics. I was misunderstood by some groups. I have never let my music and its art be affected by political bias. That's why I have been quite absent from the scene for so long. I believe that all artists should be above and beyond politics. I am planning my comeback gradually, and have already finished recording a new album which will be out in the market soon. I hope my fans love it as much as my earlier performances.

“We are doing this out of love & responsibility for our country.”
Corporate Banking Head, HSBC
It's not only about business, without love for our country and a sense of responsibility, this event would never be possible. We are very firm on our sense of responsibility, and will continue to organize events that are beneficial to the society. People of our country are deeply affected by music, it's in their hearts; and when it comes to music, we have a very rich past which is almost a century old. We have another successful programme called “Shotoborsher Gaan,” which has also been greatly appreciated by the people.

We are always eager to support any work regarding our rich culture and heritage, history of liberation, music, art and education.

The concert began on time, and what was even more pleasant to see was that almost everyone in the audience arrived in time and the hall with seating capacity for 3000 people was full when the concert was about to start. The audience was excellent, given that they cheered and applauded without creating any disturbance or nuisance. Such an audience is after the performers' hearts. This audience proved that people of our country still love the original patriotic songs, and that authentic Bangladeshi music is still preferred by the masses. The market still wants traditional music and people still crave patriotic songs. We believe that, alongside current upbeat music, the young music directors, lyricists and singers of this generation should re-think how they can create Bangladeshi music of the original style and genre. The performers dazzled with outstanding performances. Shahnaz Rahmatullah began the show, then came Sabina Yasmin and Runa Laila. At the end of the golden classic hits of the three legendary artists, came Miles, one of the most popular bands of Bangladesh for over two decades. Miles expressed their gratitude and felt privileged for being able to share the same stage as three renowned artists of Bangladesh. Their performance was upbeat and added a new flavour to the show. The audience enjoyed their performance immensely.

When we spoke to Mr. Mahbub-ur-Rahman, the corporate banking head of HSBC, we asked about his views regarding the event. How much of it was business? He said that there may be long run business-related benefits of the event the bank will reap, but that is not their primary concern. The bank wants to slowly integrate themselves, as an organization, into the art and culture of Bangladesh by making contributions in enriching art, music, education and the Liberation War. He is very happy that the young team he has put together from within the bank shares his ideas and has the same enthusiasm as him. The team consists of Reza Uddin Ahmed, Mustafizur R. Khan, M. Sami Hafiz, Md. Shabir Hossain, Alamgir Kabir, Noor Hossain Zakaria, and many other employees of the bank. It's amazing to see young people, such as the ones in this team, being moved by patriotism and organizing such remarkable events. Such events bring out the benevolent side of all that are participating, performers and the audience.

It is hoped that events such as the “HSBC SIDR Charity Concert” do not become like keeping pet elephants, that is, not all the benefits are spent behind meeting the costs of arrangement.

There are so many government organizations, NGOs, private sector organizations and individuals working for the development of Bangladesh. If we could all work in an organized way, if we could plan together, if we could envisage a model for development and communally take part in implementing it, Bangladesh could possibly emerge out of poverty and other social problems. How much of resources would we need to cure extreme poverty of one village, or one district? Can we create one model that others can follow? We invite all to come together and work together, and show that Bangladesh is not a nation terminally crippled by poverty.

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