Volume 2 Issue 45 | November 8, 2008 |


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From the Insight Desk

Rafi Hossain

“Amra shobai raja amader ei gaaner rajotte!”

I had the privilege of visiting the set of “Khude Gaan Raaj” last week, by the invitation of Izaz Khan Shapon and Samina Chowdhury. This particular episode was about special children. I was really moved by the episode. First of all, the innocence that surrounds any activity of a child inspires me. They are farthest away from pretension. The challenged children did not seem challenged any more, they participated just like any other child. They were overjoyed, and so were their parents. Before that day, most of these parents never thought their children could participate in a television reality show. Here they were a part of society just like any other child. Their happiness manifested as tears in their eyes.

It is not as if I am appreciating them simply because they are children, I am doing so because they sung so well! Every moment of their performance showed such talent. Each voice was fine tuned and rehearsed to a degree that made them comparable to professional singers. They were singing popular Bangladeshi songs which were probably not made for them. Songs like “O pakhi tor jontrona, ar to pran e shoyna”, have been sung by lots of established singers. But the fact that they could capture the feel and the emotion of the song at such an early age and could perform accordingly completely mesmerised me. And the reason this story is so appropriate for us is that approximately 80% of these children are from outside of Dhaka.

The two judges: Kumar Biswajit and Samina Chowdhury

I was talking with the judges, Samina Chowdhury and Kumar Biswajit, and I asked them what the difference was between judging talent in grown ups and in children, since they had done both. They said that working with children was always a lot more fun. They are simpler and honest. They can be instructed and directed in ways that is not so easily done with grown ups. Before they came to this show, they had no idea how capable and competitive these children could be. They commented that the remaining twenty children were all equally talented. But then I asked how most of them will gradually be eliminated, as per rules of the competition. They said it's actually very tough to decide, especially at this stage of the competition. It's very difficult to identify such marginal differences. But, the results of the next round will not only depend on the judges, but also on SMS Votes from the viewers. Who the public decides to vote for affects the results of the competition, the judges urge the viewers to vote for what they see as true talent and keep away any personal biases.

The judges appreciate how much these children love music and singing; it seems that they will shine as professional singers in the future. Then there is a matter of choosing songs. Certain songs suit certain voices, and this choice is entirely up to the participant. If a good singer makes the mistake of choosing a song that does not suit his or her particular voice, then there is little for the judges to do. The judges also added that they gave the participants tips and advice regarding how to sing and how to choose the right song, even outside the formal judging on television. But the rest depends on them, and at this stage of the competition, a small mistake can set a contestant behind a lot. The judges also said that they have grown to love this competition so much that they really hope to continue working with it in future years.

I also had the opportunity to talk to the director of the programme, Izaz Khan Shapon. I asked him how the concept of this programme came into being. He said that these children auditioned for the Channel-i Shera Kontho competition and were selected. But they were so young and the age gap between them and most of the other contestants was so large that it would have been unfair to judge them on the same platform, even though they were equally gifted. Faridur Reza Sagor, Managing Director of Channel-i then decided to create a new competition only for these children. Further announcements were made at the district level, and finally there was a large crowd of children for “Khude Gaan Raaj”.

From the primary screening, they had selected a group of 41 children, and the large group has now come down to a group of 20 children after fifteen episodes. Eventually, three of them will become the winners after seven more episodes. When I enquired about the prize money, the programme director said that Channel-i does not want to reveal the prize money now and ruin the surprise which they have been building up for quite a while. But he assured me that alongside the prize money, Channel-i will also bear all educational expenses of the winners in terms of both regular and music education. Channel-i will patronise the winners so that they can indeed become established singers of Bangladesh. In a country like Bangladesh where most families are concerned about earning just a decent living, it is very difficult for a naturally gifted singer to continue singing or to choose singing as a profession. That's exactly the why Channel-i wishes to become their patron. Most of the children are from middle and lower middle income groups who have come here to compete from distant corners of Bangladesh. Izaz Khan Shapon added that Channel-i's project goes much farther than the competition itself. Channel-i's relationship with the winners will not end with the end of the contest, rather they will ensure that these young talents are given the right opportunities and are groomed properly for the future.

Looking at these young artistes gave me hope. Their presence was a bold reminder that talent can be found in every little corner of Bangladesh. I strongly believe that if they keep practicing and refining their talent, they will become great artists. Bangladesh can expect a lot from these young talents. I sincerely hope that they are given the right opportunities so that they have a chance to cultivate their natural gifts. I can already see them growing up into heroes of tomorrow.

The Kids

Interview by Golam Rasul Maruf

All photos by Golam Rasul Maruf

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