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Bangla to my ears

It hasn't been long since that dreadful noise. We were at the St. Martins beach, underneath the tinted blue and selfish rainbow of colours. Everything struck more than they were; in absence of the typical metropolitan traffic, we had found heaven on Earth. I suppose our overwhelming joy of escaping the city was too much for others to handle. The dreadful, high pitch vocal of Balam stalked us wherever we went. He was the new hunk in the block and everyone wanted a slice of his voice on their boom boxes. Today, that high pitch vocal has found a ménage in every nook and corner of the city. We're all echoing the same tunes from that day. Does that mean we have come a long way?

The Bangladeshi or precisely, Bangla pop music has crept its way back into our lives once again. Courtesy of artists like Habib, Balam, Mila, Hridoy Khan, Fuad and innumerable others we can't remember the names of, there is a sound in Bangla everywhere we go. Be it on the FM stations, funk new Xpress music sets or inexpensive myPods, the slow drug of pop and remix has got us all hooked.

Yet, it wasn't too long ago when we went to picnics to the beats of the latest Bollywood tracks. Our weddings resonated the sounds of Hrithik's twisted arm movements, our lonesome nights accompanied by the melancholy Indian pop notes. We didn't know what the lyrics exactly meant and even if it screamed, “I'll eat your head and cook you soup”, our vulnerable, Bollywood infatuated neurons would translate that too, “I'll be there and pull you through.” We would nod to the unnecessary lengths of music and stretched out, desperate attempts of hip hop, and imitate the blown out styles of a culture not our own.

But, times changed. From the grooves of a fast paced underground scene to a struggling rock industry, our local music began seeing the rays of a new sun. We were evolving as listeners and musicians, and we needed a new sound in our lives. Roughly around this era, a long haired, sunken eyed rebel named Ornob entered our lives. His songs combined the lost souls of traditional instruments and gave them a fresh voice in our hearts. He was different and gave us the feelings we also, were different as a culture from that of Bollywood. Ornob's fusion experimentation was shortly followed by playful musicians who sang from the soul. Topu, Dipto, Laura, Shojib Khan, Krishnokali and Sahana Bajpaie all gave us a new tune to sing to. They were the new breed of musicians, who not only sang, but composed and wrote their harmonies.

Soon, and before we knew it, our compact disc drives were playing a different song, and thankfully, one that was truly our own. The fusion and pop industries together gave our music scene a fresh start and our cultural functions began to dance to it. The quality of music saw a rapid change and the very meaning of Bangladeshi pop was redefined. The songs saw a new face, the classics accorded to a modern, indigenous raga and the teens found a new beat to imitate.

The Bangladeshi music industry has indeed come a long way. There was always a small part of us that would headbang to Nirvana and System of a Down, and lose ourselves at the underground concerts. There will always be a small part of us that would know when Nemesis' next album is coming out and miss Sellout's electric stage performances. However, the truth remains there was always a large part of us that once settled for the mediocre, ultrasonic Bollywood numbers. Over the past couple of years, that large number has shifted its eardrums to the local beats. We have Fuad featuring countless upcoming artists, Mila and Balam at the Water Kingdom circuits, Habib and Topu in our playlists and Hridoy Khan at the tip of our tongues. On the other end, we have Ornob, Punam, Sahana and Krishnokali who are striving to give our lyrics a brand new heartbeat and fusing with our souls. So, be it a set of high pitched vocals, blown out distortions or overdone voice modifications, or maybe a playlist of subtle, soul-searching compositions; they are finally Bangla to our ears.

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya and Zabir Hasan
Photo courtesy Star Lifestyle archives

Bangla is alive and kicking

Bangla is here to stay. One of the most lyrical and poetic languages out there, Bangla is now more popular than it was in the past. While there were fears of it falling into disuse and dying out slowly, recent times have revived and revitalised it to such an extent that the fears now seem slightly, if not wholly, a little silly.

Let us start with Bangla movies the 70s and 80s gave some great movies to the generation before us. There were 'Golapi Ekhon Trainey', 'Shurjo Dighol Bari', 'Shimana Periye', 'Ora Egaro Jon', 'Jibon Theke Neya', 'Shutorang', etc. While the 90s saw 'Padma Nadir Majhi', 'Aguner Poroshmoni' and 'Hothat Brishti', the general trend of quality movies was waning. Dhaliwood (as the Bangla movie scene is affectionately called) was churning out one bad movie after another, and the situtaion was becoming from bad to worse. Movies were unwatchable, posters were, simply put, disgusting, and the level of acting was at an all-time low. However, the last decade has seen a slow, but steady revival in Bangla movies too. While cheap, obscene movies are still in the market, more good films are being made, and that provides hope. 'Kittonkhola', 'Matir Moina', 'Lalshalu', 'Jaijatra', 'Aha', 'Ontorjatra', 'Chondrogrohon', 'Monpura' are great examples and are all of reasonable entertainment value. They are also messages, deviating from the general boy-meets-girl-and-falls-in-love formula that is so popular with other mainstream Bangla movies, which also means that they cater to a selective crowd.

People still feel nostalgic about the Bangla natoks that have passed us by. I myself personally remember waiting eagerly every week to watch 'Aaj Robibar'. While there aren't ones that are as earth-shatteringly popular as oldies such as 'Parle na rumki', 'Shokal Shondhya', 'Auyomoy' among others, you can still find watch-able and entertaining family dramas/one-shots or real-life 'dharabahiks'. A great side to the Bangla drama is that it is usually very real and not exaggerated- devoid of unrealistic lavishness and crippling villains. Bangla natoks have expanded to a wider scene. 'Eet Kather Khacha', 'Ekannoborti', 'Shaare Teen Tola', 'Ghor Kutum' and 'Ronger Manush' are a few that have won acclaim for their different but tasteful storylines and their portrayals of believable characters.

There have been small but numerous noticeable upheavals going on to modernize and evolve Bangla and Bangladeshi culture in other sectors too. Kurtas and fotuas have become fashion fads, and are, by the looks of it, here to stay. The DJuice lanuguage introduced a whole new dimension to the language, agreeable or not, and while not everybody talks as extremely, it did help to bring Bangla back into the minds and tongues of many teenagers. Bangla SMS has been introduced so now there's no need to type out Bangla in English words, and this has been another work to be credited. T-shirts, Punjabis and fotuas inscribed with beautiful Bangla calligraphy and poetry are available, serving the double purpose of being in vogue and being patriotic.

Bangla is more popular than ever, and we love it. More so because it has survived the test that all languages go through at some point, and is still, as they say 'alive and kicking'.

By Anika Tabassum

Adroit's Sports' Day 2009

Adroit School once more lived up to its 'Education is Fun' motto, by successfully concluding the first ever 'Adroit's Sports Day'. As the name suggests, this event was a full of lots of different sports' activities such as Basketball, Football and many different sort of races. Children from Class-1 to A'levels all engaged in this carnival of sorts and the event started off with much anticipation in the air.

Children of Class-I and II started off with the races while the more senior boys warmed up for their highly-anticipated football matches. The senior girls on the other hand began preparing for their basket-ball match. At the first whistle the toddlers ran off, forgetting all the boredom and burden of studies, racing forward towards glory, with the crowd cheering them on.

Similarly different classes gathered up, one by one, all waiting impatiently just behind the starting line, raring to forward and prove their athletic prowess. Notable winners such as Adiba (class-1), Ahad (class-2) and Yamin (class-8) stood gloating in front of the mass of bodies, lapping up the applause that followed every victory.

Then the football matches started off, pitting the boys of class V against the boys of class VI. After a much contested match, which ended 2-1, class VI's favor, disappointment reined one camp while the others sat gloomily. However, to the spectators, there was more than one winner in that match. Faraz of class-V shone in the event and was then soon snapped up by the senior sides for his eye-catching performances and was recognized as the 'Maradona' of Adroit. Further matches followed pitting Class- VII with IX and then a team formed by the A'level and O'level candidates met the inter-class and soon the champions were crowned.

As the fervor ended on one side of the school, chaos began in the other. Instead of the traditionally approved 5 on 5 basketball match, 11 girls from all classes of Adroit School met 11 girls of Adroit International, which consisted of O and A' Level candidates. The match was a heated one and even a few arguments broke. The referee was the loser as he had the hardest time controlling the match, making the right calls and FORBIDDING all the hair pulling. After a hotly contested match, Adroit School's girls' team came out as winners, much to the joy of their compatriots, who couldn't stop clapping. Tahia, Naziba, Shurovi and Cynthia were declared the best players from each side.

The awards were given out by the principal Mr. Waqar Ahmed, who once more had on the famous smile. 'This event rocked' was pretty much the echoed sentiment all around and everyone felt proud of their own little, yet memorable achievements. ' This just goes to show that our students can be anything they want to be. Whether we seem them excelling in the classroom our discover such athletic gems on the field, our students give out their own and wish only to reach the top. This feeling we must nurture and cater to.' Claimed Mr. Waqar Ahmed.

The conclusion of this highly successful event brought about groans of displeasure and repeated calls for an encore. However, it was time to head off for home, treasuring the memories made on that fateful Friday. There were only winners, regardless whether they had a medal to show for it. Everyone gave their all and the smiles on their lips and the joy in their hearts were reward enough.

By Osama Rahman



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