Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 4 Issue 46 | May 13, 2005 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   Straigh Talk
   Food For Thought
   In Retrospect
   Slice of Life
   Time Out
   Dhaka Diary
   Book Review
   New Flicks
   Write to Mita

   SWM Home



Crows Nestling with Nightingales

Capt. Ghulam Hussain

Daler Mehedi

The mania of the music and entertainment industry has finally engulfed our teenagers (and some of us "weaker" individuals.) Be it evident from brisk sales in CD and DVDs (with 75 remixes by Baby Doll), the viewing of MTV, Indian movies, or even our local talents touting their wares to moderated adulation and ovations in the Army Stadium. Add to these the infrequent 'prestigious' shows of American jazz at the Osmani, the local B&H talent hunts, the hotchpotch of various soirees during the "Pahila Boishakh" at different venues, or the present adulation for Baul/Lalon renditions. If these were not enough, we now have the "Close-Up" call, to select a few national 'idols' who will lead the foray into the future. The hunt is on and many a heart will break along the way (of participants and viewers alike).

Bangla, as always, has thrived in music. The present day 'band' fans, display their appreciation at outdoor gigs by stomping one foot after another, or both together, two hands in the air, fingers in disarray, ranging from semi victory signs, to thumbs up, to even rude gestures. Rhythm is not the factor here, nor scales, nor beat (unlike the unique sway of Africa with their reggae). It is an unimpressive display of simply prancing about like a bunch of apes and the like on a grassy knoll where you have scattered some nuts. The Indian "non-Bengal" version is no better. Daler Mehedi has succeeded in his display of the bhangra genre by ripples emitted from the navel upwards, under tight saffron brocade tunics. While you do the bhangra, the hand must be up (where it belongs), you have to have a plastic smile, and being a male, you unabashedly twist your chest muscles to create a ripple. How much longer are we to feel good at the Amitabh swagger (his dance routine) , a round the arm action, hands parallel to the ground, fingers pointing forwards and the legs doing a "one-two and a one-two" to from his "Deewar" days to his present day "Baghbaan"?

Indian TV has taken the sub continent by storm, relegating the babes in "Bay Watch" and even "Friends" down the ladder. The elder viewers are on to soaps, "Saans bhi kabhi bahu thi (Mother-in-law was also a daughter-in-law once)". And why not? With relationships between wives and mothers-in-law being at the lowest ebb today, it is not a dent to propriety if they snigger at each other while watching the programme together, (while the poor husband/son looks over bawling children). Additionally, for the emancipated couples, there are DVDs (you may choose from rush print to master print) of "Murder," "Julie", "Page 3", etc to view when the parents have retired. They revel in the "item" songs where damsels are (un) dressed to kill and not related to the movie in any way except to prance about with the heroes in undersized T shirts. Surely this appeals much more to the aesthetic sense of the frustrated viewer than to watch Nicole Kidman in "Cold Mountain.' (Nicole in "Eyes Wide Shut" is of course altogether a different proposition). For whetting the local appetite, Bipasha, Sushmita or Malaika are better bets since they are from "next door" and can tickle the viewer's imagination.

While we hear about piracy laws and copyrights, nothing is being done to curb pure plagiarism as yet. Enter, the "Indian Idols" in Dhaka. "Junoon" became history, "Strings" became their supporting act and thousands of viewers went into an emotional involvement. That the programme on TV was successful and watched by millions is fine by me. But what followed, was the excessive hype created, bordering on lunacy.

Manna Dey (left) Mehedi Hassan (right)

What has led our younger generation to swoon over Rahul and Amit, (at least one wearing a brown leather jacket in mid April's stifling humidity), in their recent visit? Many mature and seemingly intelligent people have (over) indulged in their fan fare, which borders on pure absurdity. Either they have no sense of music or they seriously have nothing better to lean their intellectual mind set on. This was not even the Abhijeet (who won the contest) show. In the absence of the macaw, the viewers had no hesitation to drab the crows in peacock plumage. Our starved viewers suddenly transformed simple participants of a talent contest on TV, (belting out Indian film songs sung by other artistes), into demi-gods. Never before has mediocrity been adulated in such a way. One could very easily find similar performers any day in Park Street, Kolkata (memories of Blue Fox over chilled beer or dinner at Trincas circa 1980s, to refresh your memory). So what draws our crowds, specially our teenagers onto these over hyped performances? Do our own performers, in comparison, lack looks, height, skin colour and vocals or are our local talents incapable of wearing jeans, jackets and gyrating their hips and torso. Pray, why should we be subjected to such impudence and trash, imported frequently from abroad? Do we have to be this desperate?

It is time to set priorities. I however stand bewildered when teenagers sing along to every word breathed out by the "idols" in their live shows. (Many would probably not remember the words of the national anthem, but that is another fable). Discovery of any talent is a revelation, an honour and a joy. But, we seem to have erred when many who swoon over the 'idols' have never heard of the likes of Koushiki Bhowmik (Ajoy Chokrobortis daughter) or Norah Jones. Instead, adulations attributed to the trifle immature fanfare of two young TV aspirants on the stages of Dhaka recently, can only reveal a startling fact. That priorities have changed, rather radically.

I sulk, with an unfortunate dwindling few, and try to wipe the dust out of old LP sleeves and CDs. Sounds emitting from our cheapish speakers are being drowned by a remix of "Neele neele ambar mein" or "Pass na aaon ga" from everywhere. "Kal ho na ho" though, could have some grain of truth, when you consider how ordinary the songs are as are the singers. It seems we are into the new genre of 'progressive' listening, which nullifies most, if not all, that music stood for in the past.

I will either join the majority , or will have to ask Mehdi Hassan or Manna Dey to do a remix of their hit songs (and video themselves in brown leather jackets). Even Abhijeet (Sr) or Babul Supriyo does not stand a chance anymore (there were ten times more people at the Idols show compared to Supriyo at a local club venue).

I feel guilty today for having given my parents a quizzical look when they swooned over Dilip Kumar or Madhubala. Or when their eyes became misty listening to Saigal or Shamshad Begum. I could never understand why they then scoffed at Kishore. I understand now and therefore I try to be more adaptable (not by choice but by default). While the artistes of yesteryears have their own style and fan following, I wonder where do the "idols" belong and what category I should place them in.

Our young listeners and viewers should be careful not to mistake music with mimicry or simply noise or a stage show. (Why on earth our local maestros have to do a Cher's "Do you believe in love" kind of voice distortion in not one but a series of Bangla ballads also defies logic. First of all we do not have an arresting or captivating voice. Secondly, whatever we have, is being distorted the wrong way instead of improving it).

In retrospect, I do not doubt the talents displayed by the "imported" aspirants and performers. Time will impart maturity and time may propel them towards deserved fame. Till that does occur and they do eventually become worthy of the adulation shown (untimely and premature, as of now), I shall resent the excesses shown by our music lovers. These have been superfluous and over rated . I fear a repetition of sentiments when I read that there will be a further influx of other 'idols' soon. Close encounters, yet again, where the safety aspects of an already fragile infrastructure will be put to test. Orthodox I may be, but by virtue of the very vast spectrum of music I have subjected myself to, I cannot help but state unequivocally that the 'idols', in their present form, are but crows trying to nestle with nightingales.




Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2005