Volume 5 Issue 31| September 24, 2011|


   Special Issue
   Celebrating Life    Special
   Celebrating Life 2011     Winners
   Lifetime Achievement    In Music
   Lifetime Achievement    In Film
   Lifetime Achievement    In Photography
   Lyrics Contest    Winner
   Lyrics Contest    Runner-up
   Tabla Fusion Director
   Music Director
   Dance Director
   Event Decoration
   Photography1st    Runner-up
   Photography 2nd    Runner-up

   Star Insight     Home

Celebrating Life Special

Another Milestone in Celebrating Life

And the drums rolled out a thunderstorm
Whilst the icy blue flames of a river took to dance
Turning and churning, celebrating life
With song and dance, amongst moments
Plucked out of the land immortalized hence.

Hasan Ameen Salahuddin

The stage was strewn with light beads in the ceiling high black-back-drop, resembling a night sky riddled with stars. The stage was engulfed in total darkness as Mahfuz Anam, Editor & Publisher of the Daily Star, and Jim McCabe, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, took to either ends of the stage. The Celebrating Life 2011 Awards Giving Ceremony and Gala Night was ready to commence, with the chief guest - the Honorable Minister for Information and Culture, Abul Kalam Azad - already present amongst the audience in the first row. The two top personalities from the organizing and sponsoring parties started off with elegant and short pieces describing the lives and impacts Tareque Masud and Mishuk Muniere had left behind for the media industry and how they had touched all of our lives. Mahfuz Anam in his address emphasized the importance as to how it was very important to celebrate life in every waking moment; otherwise it becomes drab and burdensome.

Their speeches were followed by a minute of silence by request of Mahfuz Anam to show respect in remembrance of the two great personalities from the media world and how their sudden deaths had proven to be such a huge loss for the whole nation.

The stage was next taken over by a throng of tabla artists to mesmerize the audience with a powerful fusion piece composed with the use of tabla, khol, dhak, pagwas, and the digital drums-pad. The moving piece was received with light applause as the audience was not sure as to why so many artists had taken to the stage at once. Milan Bhattacharjee took the lead on the tabla and played the role of the maestro in conducting the whole piece; after all, it was his composition. He was joined by Tapan Sarker and Shusen Kumar Roy on the pagwas, while Biswajit Sarker showed his prowess on the khol, Komol Mondol let out his aggression on the dhak, and Polash Kumar Shaul helped keep the tempo right playing the percussions on the digital pads. Second in lead on the tablas to make the whole composition come to life were Shabuj Ahmed, Biswajit Natta and Jahangir Mirza. Amongst the remaining of the throng of backup tabla players was Milan's own son Amitabh Bhattacharjee joined by Raju Chowdhury, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Shapan Kumar Mormon, Jyoti Majumder, Shankar Natta, Bimol Roy, Babul Halder, Shubhroto Mandal, Shubhroto Sarker, Sumon Burman, Shushanto Kumar, Proshanto Banik, and Biplap Sharma. The audience was blown away by the thunder like strikes and the heart warming invigorating music played in front of their eyes. It was a true treat to the hearing sense. Alas, the same could not be said about the coordination of lighting used on the stage during the performance.

Honorable Minister for Information and Culture, Abul Kalam Azad inaugurating the event
Chandelier of BICC over the photo exhibition

The stage was designed with solid blue festoons jutting upwards and vertically to resemble waves of a river, in the middle of which was placed a white circle to denote life. The waves were designed to depict serenity and joy, to surround the circle in celebration. I, for one amongst the whole audience, was very drawn towards appreciating the whole of the design, as it was simple yet very elegant and tasteful. But I wish I could say the same for the light choreography used during the Milan Bhattacharjee and his companions' performance. The lights could have been made to change there shades from lighter to warmer to angrier tones as the piece unfolded, keeping in sync with the story that the composition was actually trying to portray. Instead, the lights were made only to turn on and off while changing colors without any blending in or out. None the less, the performance received a wave of loud applause with a standing ovation from the audience after its conclusion, which went to show that it had really touched each and every one of the spectators and had left them in awe.

And the Awards Giving Ceremony and Gala Night was on its way! Mahfuz Anam took to the stage once more after being invited by the MCs for the night to welcome everyone to Celebrate the Gifts of Nature and Rivers of Bangladesh through honoring all the winners of the competition this year. He referred to how it was important to represent our nation through the achievements in Economy and Industry. But, he stressed that we should be recognized even more because of our rich culture. He said that we as a people were very proud of our culture, but due to many persistent reasons- be it economic or any other - we are not always able to practice its beauty and spread it. For instance, it is very difficult - if not impossible - to survive in this economy by only writing lyrics, or taking photography as a sole profession. These trades do not pay well at all. Mr. Anam carried on by saying that it was because of this reason only that The Daily Star and Standard Chartered Bank in collaboration had taken up this ordeal of providing a platform to such people, so that the practice of our culture was kept alive in a new form keeping relevance with the advancing technologies.

Guests viewing the photo exhibition
Jim McCabe, CEO of Standard Chartered Bangladesh, delivering his speech
Tabla Fusion

The Honorable Minister for Information and Culture, and the CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, Jim McCabe were then invited to join Mahfuz Anam on stage to give out the awards to the winners. Unlike previous years, the film category was omitted from this year's competition due the lack of entries deserving of any acclaim. Rafi Hossain, the festival coordinator, explained in detail as to how the competition aimed at acclaiming work that were truly deserving, and not just because of the sake of just giving away prizes. He then went on drawing example from Tareque Masud's works and Mishuk Munier's dedication in the field, which could and should be followed by the people in the film industry to achieve qualitative outputs. Hossain stressed on the need for people entering these competitions to keep in mind that quality of content portrayed in the work was the most important aspect by far, followed by choreography and production of a film. He then went on explaining the due need of conducting workshops to this end, so that amateur film makers could grasp the actual ideas of how to make good respectable films. This was the first and foremost reason of introducing a film workshop this year.

The workshop started some one and one half months ago with 30 participants. Depending on their ability and talents, 15 of them will remain by the end of it. These remaining participants will then be divided into three groups of five members each under the supervision of an acclaimed director who are also conducting and are in charge of the workshop. These groups will then be responsible to produce three different films under funding by The Daily Star.

The function rolled into the Awards Giving Ceremony with everyone being called on stage starting from the least achieving positions and climbing up to the echelons of the prize winners in the Lyrics and Photography categories. The accolades bestowed this year truly went to show that the awards were given out to only those truly deserving of the acclaim. The judges had done such a great job of taking their time and fishing out the winners from the thousands of entries, that everybody had no other choice but to appreciate the whole effort.

After the winners were declared, they were asked to remain on stage for a group photograph. The stage was filled with smiling-proud faces, each holding up their crests and certificates in joy. The stage was cleared once more, and the audience was treated with three short films made on each of the Life Time Award winners this year. The awards went to Soovas Dutt for Film, Shahidul Alam for Photography and Khandker Nurul Alam for Music. Each of the short films showcased the veteran artists in their fields and their lives on the screen in very concise well organized clips. It goes to say that the film workshop is paying off so far, as they were all created by the participants in the workshop. The films distinctively showed different styles, all of which were mature in content, and very well produced with background music and related still photography clips to capture perfect moments relevant to the content.

Dance ensemble directed by Munmun Ahmed

Alas! Soovas Dutt and Shahidul Alam could not make it to the ceremony to receive their awards due to preordained unavoidable circumstances. Khandker Nurul Alam was present though. The humble character of the great man was shown through his interview in the short film showcasing him where he had said that he would receive awards and criticism both with the same conviction and smile on his face. He was true to his word to have come to receive the award, even being immobile and dependent on a wheelchair for his old age. The other winners from the lyrics and photography contests were once again cordially invited on stage to take another group photograph with the veteran in the field of music as Abul Kalam Azad, Mahfuz Anam and Jim McCabe were honoring him by wrapping him in the respectable uttorio, handing him a bouquet of flowers, and handing over the certificate and crest.

The Minister greeted Ustad Rashid Khan on stage with flowers and Uttorio
Ustad Rashid Khan performing with his troop

The chief guest the Honorable Minister for Information and Culture was then welcomed to the stage to address the audience with a warm welcome. He stressed on how important the film industry was to our nation on a whole. He described its use not to be only dedicated in the entertainment sector, but on the contrary he said it to be a media of communication with the past and generations apart. It shows us history and documents our present for later generations. It archives events, which are otherwise lost to us forever. And such being the case he commended the efforts put forward by The Daily Star and Standard Chartered Bank to have taken up the initiative in trying to better the whole experience through providing a platform for upcoming artists to smoothen out their rough edges before entering the field.

The Chief Guest went on saying that it was important for us to keep practicing the arts of writing songs and lyrics, as it is part of our culture to tell stories in folk lore. But this has now become a dying art, as people cannot afford to be doing such things on a regular basis. Through the Celebrating Life platform, this can be revived and the country needs more of such initiatives to keep our culture alive.

He again referred back to photography as to being a means of documenting everything around us. A picture is worth a thousand words. Be it about nature, or history, it captures a moment and immortalizes it forever. And such being the case, we should document everything that we see so that our past is not forgotten; our culture is kept intact.

The Honorable Minister then stressed on the importance of fair competition at all times. He said it would otherwise be unhealthy and demoralizing for the actual deserving people taking part in such contests. Ensuring this would surely pave the way for the new upcoming generations in each field. Saying all that, he applauded the annual Celebrating Life Competition in being able to maintain such exemplary standards.

The Honorable Minister, Abul Kalam Azad, ended his speech by hoping that the Celebrating Life Platform would enable the participants to cross worlds when it came to writing lyrics, photography and film making. He highly commended and thanked the efforts of both The Daily Star and Standard Chartered Bank.

The night could not have been complete without a word from the sponsors of the whole effort. Jim McCabe, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, was warmly welcomed on stage once more to share his thoughts on the whole journey. He referred to the very beginning of the journey where the bank had taken up the agenda of exhibiting the positive images of the country through portraying the arts and culture. They wanted to create a showcased to bring forth the beauty of each individual Bangladeshi's mind.

Jim McCabe went on saying that quite a few milestones have been achieved and surpassed in the past few years, and the bank would like to continue in this endeavor to take the Celebrating Life even further. He then acknowledged that the journey could not have been possible if it were not for the immense support provided by all those who were affiliated with the initiative, amongst whom he put The Daily Star on the top of the list.

Ustad Rashid Khan with his troop mesmerizing the audience with his classical songs

He ended with congratulating all the winners of the competition, and by saying that Standard Chartered would definitely be there to make the community a better place, be it through business or through the spread of arts and culture.

The first leg of the evening was drawing to a close. It had the perfect ending the audience could have hoped for. Ripa Saker's first place winning lyrics was made into a song and recorded to be played to the audience. Through Ali Akbar Rupu's composition of the music, the Gaaner Dol Praaner Dol team brought out the beautiful song from the heart warming lyrics. Biman Chandra Biswas, Bijon Chandra Mistry, Apan, Emily, Chumki, Hasan and Imran Ahmed sang in beautiful chorus throughout the whole song warming the hearts of the hundreds that attended the Gala Night. But that could not have been it! Just a song and an empty stage? No! The song was accompanied by a dance performance by Munmun Ahmed's students under her direction. The children awed the audience with their skill and flawless performance. They did not miss one single queue and were synchronized as if they were all one on the stage.

And the first half of the evening was done. The organizers asked the audience to stretch their legs for a few minutes as they needed the time to set the stage for the evening's main attraction: an exclusive concert with Ustad Rashid Khan.

The world renowned classical vocalist and his troop were received cordially by the Honorable Minister, Editor & Publisher of The Daily Star and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank with adorning them with uttorios and bouquets of flowers.

The Ustad was joined by Shubhankar Banerjee on the Tabla, Jyoti Goho on the Harmonium, Murad Ali on the Sarengi, and vocal supports by Wali Fateh Ali Khan and Krishna Shrimantrao Bongane who played the Tanpura in turns as well.

The prowess of the Ustad, itseemed like could only be matched by the troop he had brought along with him. Wherever he left it with his powerful voice the next one, as if in queue would just pick up. The audience was left mesmerized during the whole performance. They broke into applause at every turn in every Raag and could not stop giving the team standing ovations after each piece. Alas! The night had to come to an end and could not go on for the rest of its length, such as the hungry audience would have wanted it to.

Ustad Rashid Khan after the show, dinner at Dhaka Club



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