Konal’s Triumph | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 10, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:46 AM, March 10, 2021

Konal’s Triumph

A voice that reverberates power and passion, singer Somnur Monir Konal is one of the artists who lent her voice to the song,‘’Through The Tiger’s Eye’’. To commemorate the 50 years celebration of Bangladesh’s Independence, Daniel Seidl, a former Executive Director of the Bangladesh German Chamber of Commerce, came up with this initiative under ‘Artists4Desh’. In this special interview with Rafi Hossain, Konal shares insights about the song and her experiences working for it.

Rafi Hossain: Today, we're here with Konal. Thank you for being with us today.

Konal: I'm really glad to be here and talk to you.

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Rafi Hossain: Tell us about your new project.

Konal: The project has been created to celebrate the golden jubilee of our country's independence. The song, Through The Tiger's Eye, is a part of the initiative under the Artists4Desh. Most of the organisers are foreigners, and one of them is Daniel Seidel. He is originally from Germany, but he spent twentty years in Bangladesh as a diplomat and also worked for the people here. So, he has a special connection to Bangladesh, which is why he was inspired to begin this initiative. This is a global project, which involves songs, photo exhibitions, concerts, and books being released. This is targeted to audiences globally to promote the celebration of fifty years of independence of Bangladesh, and to teach about Bangladesh. The idea was actually inspired from the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh. We have included a part of the original song by George Harrison in our song to pay homage. Even though it is a small role, I am honoured, humbled, and proud to be a part of it. I was first approached by Daniel, who introduced me to our music director and producer, Robert Bartha. Afterward, ten different artists from ten countries came together to create the song. Most of them were Europeans and I was the only one from Bangladesh.

Rafi Hossain: Where was the song released?

Konal: It was released on February 12 on Robert's YouTube channel. It also premiered on a few German and Spanish radio channels. It has yet to premiere in Bangladesh. We all sent both our audios and videos from our countries, and the video producing team compiled them together.

Rafi Hossain: What do you have to say about the current state of the music industry?

Konal: During the pandemic, I would say that every artist worked very hard instead of sitting idle. Numerous songs have been released regarding COVID-19. However, earnings were expectedly low as the entertainment industry worldwide lost billions of dollars, and many people lost their jobs. The pandemic was devastating for the industry and the loss is irrecoverable, but it is slowly picking itself up now.

Rafi Hossain: I find that many songs nowadays are not as memorable as older songs used to be. Why do you think that is?

Konal: I find there to be two reasons behind this. First, we have to give new songs more time to see if they are sustainable or not. We have all been listening to old songs for years now, which is why we find them to be more memorable. Second, previously the means of listening to songs were limited. Now, we have YouTube, phones, foreign songs, etc. As a result of this, we are competing globally against established international singers, which has both advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, many low-quality songs are being promoted instead of better alternatives. By this, I mean lyrically pleasant songs. Many media are responsible for this, not just artists themselves.

Rafi Hossain: Like many parts of the entertainment industry, the television industry is also suffering. What are your thoughts on that?

Konal: I cannot fully blame the audience for the downfall of the industry. As an audience myself, Bangladeshi television channels do not attract me or keep me glued to the television. This is because most of the shows are not out of the box. What I, myself, have learnt from working with the industry is that most of the financing is now directed towards the marketing department rather than the creative department. I don't know the real cause behind this, but the use of the same actors and similar storylines make the shows very uninteresting. One channel I have to name, however, is Duronto TV. They are very organised and their content is really enjoyable as well. They showed that it is possible to draw the audience if you have unique ideas and proper strategies and execution. I often attend special shows during Eid alongside many senior artists, and we always expect interesting questions, but don't receive any. Similar to Duronto, we also need channels dedicated to music and artists, and alongside that a team is needed to constantly come up with new ideas to make improvements. Only then can we expect to see positive changes.

Rafi Hossain: Do you want to add anything about any recent show or program you watched?

Konal: A few days ago, my husband was watching a show and I happened to catch a dialogue that used very foul language. The character saying it was being portrayed by an actor who is somewhat of an idol today, especially for the younger generation. I think the impact of the work we create is often overlooked, instead of understanding it and using it to inspire and teach people. If the people our future generation idolises are spreading negative messages or encouraging vile behaviour, then it will definitely prove to be detrimental for our country in the following years. I would also ask the youth to choose their icons carefully.

Rafi Hossain: I believe that music has become about likes and views nowadays, but no one, in reality, knows the songs that are labelled popular. Why is that?

Konal: I have something to add regarding this. Oftentimes, we judge a song's popularity based on how many people know it in Dhaka. However, if you look outside the urban sphere and into rural areas, you'll find that there are many fans and followers of artists and songs there that are not as well-known here. For instance, I went to Chuadanga recently and people mentioned songs to me that had millions of views on YouTube. Even though I believed there would not be an audience for such songs, in reality, they do exist outside of our own area.

Rafi Hossain: What do you have to say regarding the feedback people provide on all kinds of artwork in our country?

Konal: There is a need for proper critiques. Constructive criticism is an important aspect of every artist's work, and it is impossible to make improvements without it. I would truly appreciate it if there were individuals pointing out my shortcomings and guiding me towards solutions. I was a judge on a children's music show, and there are such marvellous singers and talents in our country, which is something that I always love to see. Bangladesh has so much potential, and all we need is to nurture it.

Rafi Hossain: Any last message for your fans?

Konal: I have very recently recovered from a family tragedy, for which I had taken a break from work to get some peace of mind. I began working with a few recordings, and have recently worked on some playbacks as well. Thanks to the Almighty, I already have some more projects lined up for me. One of my projects was a song in Kobori apa's film under Sabina Yasmin's composition and direction. I also want to thank my followers for the constant support they give me. Lastly, thank you for having me today, Rafi bhai.

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