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Dhaka World Music Fest ends with hope

Nusrat Jahan Pritom

The two-day international world music festival concluded on Saturday at Sultana Kamal Women Complex in Dhaka.
   The second day was observed with much enthusiasm sustained by a bigger crowd than the previous day. Internationally renowned bands like Motimba, Lokkhi Terra, Soothsayers and Dele Sosimi rocked the crowd with local band Ajob, Porobashi and solo performers such as Baby Akhtar and Rinku.
   Porobashi, a band of Bangladeshi expatriates, started the show by moving the crowd with the traditional Bangla pala music. Rinku and Baby Akhtar then presented baul songs. Lokkhi Terra, a London-based Bangla band came up as the next performers. The band did some stunning fusion on some hit numbers like Bondhur-e, Bhromor, Kunje Ashena and others. Another local band Ajob did some tracks from their upcoming album which is scheduled to be released at the end of this year.
   Dele Sosimi, a world famous band for their unique presentation, rocked the crowd with their stunning performance of African music accompanied by dance. The next performer was Tunde Jegede, a West African musician, who enthralled the audience by his performance on Kora, an African instrument that dates back to 700 years.
   Soothsayer from South London came up next and hit the ground with their stunning performance.
   Cuban band Motimba gave an outstanding performance at the final phase of the show and made the evening a memorable one.
   Runi Khan, founder of Culturepot Global who had been the mastermind behind the programme spoke exclusively to New Age. Runi said that she wanted to promote the country’s profound musicians and yet the kind of support needed to promote and uplift them is absent here. ‘I wanted not only Bangladesh, but the world to appreciate them’, she said. She also said that she would be looking forward to make it as a regular annual event.
   The whole atmosphere was festive as there were lanterns hanging from trees and Phanush (fire-lit balloon) torched from time to time.
   Rachel, an audience from New York, said that she was used to see similar shows back home, but seeing it here in Bangladesh with her friends was different and interesting.
   Mushfiq and Saadi, both of whom are students, had come to see the show to enjoy the combination of foreign and local music.
   It was organised by Culturepot Global, Excalibur Entertainment, Jatrik and Sembiance Partners. The show was sponsored by Grameen Phone.

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Fauzia’s sitar recital at IGCC

Cultural Correspondent

Promising musician Reenat Fauzia performed solo sitar recital at the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre auditorium in Dhaka on Saturday evening.
   The evening began with a pure classical sitar recital, accompanied by Sabuj on tabla and Tahsin Khan on tanpura, based on raga Nandokosh. Started in a slow tempo and ended with fast tempo, the 40-minute melancholy recital created a sprinkling tranquility at the auditorium.
   Fauzia’s second rendition was a fusion of classical and folk. The 20-minute performance of transcend sitar tunes perfectly blended with rhythm of tabla.
   In response to request from the audience, Fauzia performed a dhun that created confluence of melodies.
   Born in a family having rich background of classical music, Fauzia has won the Anonnya Top Ten Award-2010 for her outstanding performance in instrumental music. Grand daughter of Ustad Ayet Ali Khan, Fauzia belongs to the Seni Maihar Gharana.
   Fauzia is bestowed with three audio albums including ‘A Touch of Love’, ‘A Tribute to Grand-father Ustad Ayet Ali Khan’ and a duet album ‘Haramanik’ with Professor Mridul Kanti Chakrobarty.
   Mentioning the event as a part of regular initiative of IGCC, its director Ankan Banerjee said that they would arrange regular solo events for the country’s instrumentalists to encourage them and to provide them a platform.

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Kohe Birangana presents legends

Cultural Correspondent

The legends of the epic Mahabharata were brought in an experimental production staged by Manipuri Theatre at the Experimental Theatre Stage of Bangladesh Shilapkala Academy on Saturday. It was the third consecutive show of Moulvibazar-based troupe in the city.
   The play ‘Kohe Birangana’ is adapted from Micheal Madhushudan Dutt’s ‘Birangana Kabbaya’ which was written in 1861 and is based on the epic ‘Mahabharata’.
   To mark the silver jubilee of ‘Birangana Kabbaya’, Manipuri Theatre presented the play for the audience of Dhaka. ‘Kohe Birangana’ is adapted and directed by young playwright-director Shuvashis Sinha, who is also the chief of the theatre troupe.
   In Sinha’s lyrical drama ‘Kohe Birangana’, the young playwright has used four cantos out of 11 cantos of the original Dutt’s text. Even the syntax of ‘Birangana Kabbaya’ has been successfully maintained in the narratives of ‘Kohe Birangana’.
   Sinha unfolds the unique message ‘love is divine’ through recitation of letters which are written by four legends to their beloved ones. Legends such as Shakuntala, Draupadi, Duhshala and Jona are the characters in the experimental play.
   The strength of the play was, however, the powerful performance of Jyoti Sinha who alone played the four leading roles simultaneously while Jyoti Sinha, Smriti Sinha, Shukla Sinha, Sunanda Sinha and Bhagyalokkhi Sinha helped the lead character in the play.
    With some marvellous gestures, movements and dialogue delivery, Jyoti started the play by performing the role of Shakuntala which conveyed the loneliness sustained by missing her husband Dushyanta.
   Jyoti’s lively narratives in the role of Draupadi and Duhshala had the power to visualise the respective mood onstage.
   And the last act of the play features another letter written by a mournful mother and a beloved wife Jona to her husband Neeldhaja after he signs a peace accord with the killer of their son.
   However, it was a part of a two-day festival, titled ‘Birangana Utshab’.

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Iranian film festival ends in city

Cultural Correspondent

The three-day film festival, organised by the embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iran Cultural Centre in Bangladesh, ended at the Shilpakala Academy’s Music and Dance Centre auditorium February 9.
   On February 9 four films titled ‘The Girl in the Sneakers’, ‘Loneliness’, ‘A span of Heaven’ and ‘Hayat’ were projected.
   A total of 11 feature films, directed by four celebrated Iranian filmmakers, are being projected in the festival to mark the 32nd anniversary of the victory of Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979.
   Earlier, Iranian ambassador to Bangladesh Hossein Aminian Tousi inaugurated the festival on Tuesday.
   Shilpakala Academy director general Kamal Lohani and celebrated filmmaker Kazi Hayat were, among others, present at the event.
   On the first day of the festival, the organisers projected three films named ‘The Girl in the Sneakers’, ‘Every Night Loneliness’ and ‘Last Night I Saw Aida’.
   On the second day, ‘My Name Is Taraneh and I am 15 years old’, ‘So Simple’ ‘White Sneakers’ and ‘Face by Face’ were screened.
   The films feature different aspects of Iranian society and the roll and position of women.

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Opekkha gets tax-free benefit

Cultural Correspondent

The government has awarded a tax free benefit for projection of Abu Sayeed’s latest movie ‘Opekkha’ in all theatres across the country.
   The decision came in a special gazette notification from the Ministry of Information issued on January 25. The movie was released on December 31 last year in Balaka Cinema Hall without enjoying such benefit. However, in its recent release in Star Cineplex in Dhaka, the movie is getting the tax free benefit.

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Dhaka’s beauty

Arneeb Mahbub

Dawn settles upon the strict-fixed city,
   It’s milky twilight, rancid red-yellow.
   The light covers cleanly, but takes no pity,
   On the urchins sleeping—-soft and mellow.
   
   The hustle begins with polluted gas,
   From jam-packed cars, buses, and trains.
   Lalbagh Fort, Sangsad Bhaban, always last,
   But never for any unsoiled fair gain.
   
   Sky converts into a deadening blue,
   Casting the streets indifferent.
   It cannot change the city’s hue,
   For the city itself is no God-sent.
   
   Streets are littered with rubbish,
   Their stench magnified by scorched air.
   People mill about, broken and sluggish,
   Their hearts torn from sinking, despair.
   
   Bodies scatter, but cannot move forward,
   For living corpses inhabit all space.
   Their wage, a pittance, and absurd,
   Not enough to provide meaningful grace.
   
   The opaque sun shines on fickle buildings,
   Its gloss, unmasking tyrannical flaw.
   White light reveals posh suits, cufflinks,
   With heavy wallets held with gripped claws.
   
   Neither torn nor restrained is this valued paper,
   For it builds quickly with manual labour.
   Much blood is shed for sticky suits,
   That goes unnoticed without moot.
   
   The light now travels along dirty roads,
   Delving directly deep into the fray.
   Street people adopt several new modes,
   Working, laughing, embracing their dismay.
   
   The day lapses, with the sun straight up high.
   Its suitable warmth burning starved children.
   Their mothers manage only a sick lie,
   Stomachs empty and hearts unbrazen.
   Simmering heat waves carve a battleground
   For aroused men who want lives.
   Torrents of hot air construct happy frowns
   For wealth’s shared, connected delight.
   
   Brightness softens with the passing day,
   Bringing cool breeze wafts through all parts.
   Dusk rises in an upside down way,
   Indifferent to both poor and rich hearts.

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BOOK REVIEW

NGOs in Bangladesh
Recreating the Commons? edited by Farida Chowdhury Khan, Ahrar Ahmad and Munir Quddus is a UPL publication. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are an integral aspect of society in Bangladesh. They provide a variety of services to people, generate employment, mobilize public opinion, and influence governmental policy. They remain as an important liaison with the donor community and are a substantial cultural, political, and economic presence in the country. NGOs are involved in many important sectors of the economy such as education, health, and finance. They are relevant politically, given that many of them are active in addressing important issues relating to gender, poverty, corruption and the activities of civil society.
   It raises critical questions, examines relevant issues from within specific and broader levels of analysis, and explores the processes through which NGOs have become an indispensable part of the socio-political landscape of Bangladesh.
   
   Thoughts on democracy
Democracy’s Roller Coaster Ride in Bang1adesh by Moazzem Hossain is a collection of essays. The first decade of the 21st century has been a ‘lost decade’ for Bangladesh both politically and economically. On one hand, this period provided a scope for political commentators to write about many issues in respect of development of democratic practices and of governance, yet on the other hand, this was a period of nightmare for the politicians and for the people in general. This volume is a collection of selected articles by the author.
   Most of the articles are concerned with political issues and some development related articles are also included. The main aim here is to present selected pieces to enable the readers present and future to use the book as ready reference to political, institutional and economic development of Bangladesh.
   Moazzem Hossain studied agricultural economics at Bangladesh Agricultural University. He was awarded masters and PhD degrees in agricultural development economics by the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Western Australia (UBA) respectively. He teaches economics at Griffith Business School, Griffith University Brisbane.

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