Zahidul Naim Zakaria
Sounds of Freedom
Celebrating Life “Shadhinota” Concert
On 31 March 2012, Suhrawardy Uddyan reverberated with sounds of freedom. In a concert which brought together some of the biggest names of Bangladeshi music and television, Celebrating Life commemorated the glory of the month of March. Since Standard Chartered Bank and the Daily Star started Celebrating Life back in 2008, the programme has become so much more than just a competition. It has evolved to a wide platform where some of the greatest minds of Bangladesh's media come together in one voice, as it did in the Celebrating Life “Shadhinota” Concert 2012. On top of winning songs of the last four years of Celebrating Life competitions and folk songs, Rock icon Ayub Bachchu and Indian musician Debajyoti Mishra were prime attractions of the concert.
For the first time, Celebrating Life organized an event under the open sky. The audience quickly grew to thousands of people, and the sounds of freedom soared through the air beyond the territory of Suhrawardy Uddyan and spilled over to the nearby areas of Dhaka University. This was the same venue where, on 7th March 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had spoken his most memorable words. This is where he spurred a nation, a people to fight for what is rightfully theirs – freedom. The concert was organized to celebrate the month of March in all its glory, and to commemorate Bangladesh's independence.
The stage was set right in front of the terra cotta wall at Suhrawardy Uddyan that acts as a timeline of the independence of Bangladesh. The audience sat right across the shallow pool of water. After the sun had left its peak above everyone's heads and its warmth fell, then Bhaswar Bandyopadhyay, the emcee of the concert, called Bijon Mistri and Biman Chandra Biswas who started the musical evening with the National Anthem and later performed one of the songs of Celebrating Life, called “Amay shopoth porao ma go”.the musical evening started with the National Anthem sung by Chayanot performers. Then Bhaswar Bandyopadhyay, the emcee of the concert, called Bijon Mistri and Biman Chandra Biswas who performed one of the songs of Celebrating Life, called “Amay shopoth porao ma go”.
Shakila Zafor took the stage afterwards, entertaining the audience with 'Kontho jodi ruddho hoy', followed by her cover of Joan Baez's famous song called “Bangladesh”, which was first performed in Madison Square Garden at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. Following her performance, Mahfuz Anam, Editor of the Daily Star and Jim McCabe, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Bangladesh shared their thoughts about Celebrating Life and Bangladesh with the audience. Mahfuz Anam reminded the audience about the tremendous strength that lie within the youth of the country, who, given their numbers and proportion happen to be country's biggest asset. This is exactly why the theme of Celebrating Life 2012 is 'Celebrating the Youth of Bangladesh'. CEO Jim McCabe spoke of the contest's role in finding new talents who will lead in the future, and said “Celebrating Life has shown us sides of Bangladesh we have never seen before”. They were joined on stage by Selina Hossain, Renowned Writer & Nasiruddin Yousuf Bachchu, Filmmaker and Media Activist (also a Freedom Fighter), and together they unveiled the cover of the Celebrating Life Photobook 2010 & 2011 and the covers of soon-to-be-released musical albums of Celebrating Life.
By now the audience had grown impatient for the prime attraction of the concert, Ayub Bachchu. His monumental popularity was proven with the crowd's deafening cheer and applause as he walked on the stage plucking a tune on his guitar. His started his performance with his popular numbers “Tomake bhalobashi” and “Cholo bodley jai”, followed by a rock version of the evergreen song “Ma go, vabna keno?” In the middle of his performance he flaunted his instrumental skills with an electric version of the “We shall overcome” tune, one that the audience quickly recognized. He engaged the audience in between his songs and even in the middle of his songs, asking them to sing along and fill in lines of popular choruses, making the audience a part of his performance. After Ayub Bachchu's high intensity performance, Naquib Khan came to the stage with Ibrar Tipu, Shulka Acharja and Shuporna Sen Gupta to sing “Jedin jenechi vashar jonno amra diyechi pran”, followed by Ibrar Tipu, Biman Chandra Biswas and Aapon's performance of “Lokkhe pouche jabo ekdin”. The concert was not just a gathering of musical icons, but also of media personalities who shared their thoughts on freedom. Asaduzzaman Noor's riveting recitation of “Shadhinota shobdoti kibhabe amader holo” written by Nirmalendu Goon caused people to stir up in their seats, as did Aly Zaker's inspiring words, who said, “Have we found our true freedom? Is freedom only political and economic freedom? But is it not also freedom of the mind? What about the freedom to think? What about freedom from illiteracy?” He asked everyone to take a pledge in earning that freedom for themselves.
“Shopnoloker Kolpotoru” was performed by Shubir Nandi, Samina Chowdhury and Fahmida Nabi, followed by Samina's performance of “Chiro shobujer ei Bangladesh” and Fahmida Nabi's performance of “Shobdo”, two winning songs from the Celebrating Life contests. Feedback turned the tempo up on stage and brought back many memories with their performances of “Melay Jaire” and “Moushumi”.
What set this concert apart from most concerts was the final performance by Debajyoti Mishra. Debojyoti Mishra is an Indian film composer who is very well known thoughtout the sub-continent for his work in the Hindi film Raincoat, the Bengali film Chaturanga and for the songs he composed for the Bengali movie Autograph. This concert made Debajoyti very emotional. He was almost teary eyed to be a part of the performing cast. “The 1970s was a moment of truth for the Bengali race on both sides of the border,” says he, “In India, the socialist revolution and the bloody struggle of Bangladesh's independence redefined what being a Bengali means.” He was a young boy in 1971, and both his parents are from Bangladesh. His mother is from Bikrampur and studied in Kamrunnesa College while his father was from Matuail. “My mother used to walk at Ramna Park in the morning before the partition. Right beside it is Suhrawardy Uddyan where the call for independence was uttered,” said the emotional Debajyoti. His violin swayed the audience, who refused to turn their gaze from the stage. He, along with his musical choir, performed many songs including Lalongeeti, Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrul Sangeet and other well-known patriotic Bangladeshi songs. His team, including himself, collaborated with Fahmida Nabi on the song “Ei bangla ke bhalobashi”.
The organizers thank Desh TV and Radio ABC for broadcasting the event and carrying the concerts to remote corners of Bangladesh. The organizers are also very grateful to the Ministry of Information and Cultural Affairs, especially Minister Abul Kalam Azad who took the time to come to the concert and share a few words with the audience. Thanks also go out to Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Liberation War Affairs, Bangladesh Bank, National Board of Revenue, Special Branch and Dhaka Metropolitan Police for extending their kind cooperation in facilitating processes leading up to the event and its management.
Find out more about Celebrating Life online at www.celebratinglifebd.com
Cover Illustration by Ujjal Ghose
Photographs by Mumit , Nazmul & Naim
(R) thedailystar.net 2012