Then came Rushnaf Wadud who drew everyone in by giving frank backgrounds to each of the four songs he performed. His first song was 'Chittagong,' which was written in the days of Rushnaf And The Bonno Electric.It was about the missing hills of Chittagong due to the rampant development of cities
Jatra Biroti’s stage has for the longest time been a platform for new artistes in our music industry. The event last Friday, some might say, fit the pattern of Jatra Biroti. Those who do not know Jatra Biroti will definitely say it is a magnanimous initiative for the newest artistes in our industry.
“Moulik” was organized by production manager Shoummo Saha, performing multiple roles at the same time. He was the MC introducing the performers, also getting up to clip the mike on their guitars, bringing chairs from behind the stage for duo acts, and lastly, taking photographs for the event.
When asked why he was doing everything by himself he said, “Well, the event was my idea. I knew all the artistes and have heard them perform. So I had this idea a week back, and contacted the artistes one after the other, to convince them to get on stage. By Tuesday the artistes were ready, and you saw the minimal promotion we did. So here we are.” Where they were was a long hallroom, about 1200 squarefeet, with a small wooden stage at the very end, on the fourth floor of Jatra Biroti in Banani. The audience took their seats on orange flat pillows patterned with Bangla alphabets. The sound set-up was not a traditional sound board with monitors and numerous deadpan technicians. It was all done on a Macbook connected to an amplifier which in turn connected to the performer’s guitar with a clip.
The show was started by Aronno Anupom, whose songs were melodic and the lyrics were poetic. That is to say, one would love to hear just the recitation of the words he wrote without any singing or music. Most notable was “Shey Ashey” and “Shongkhocheeler Daana.”
Next we had Rushlan Shabib Murshed who pretty much woke everyone from the trance they were in, by reaching high notes singing lyrics inspired by “God complex.” He finished his set with a beautiful rendition of the classic “Take me home.”
Then we had Shourov Khan, whose stage name is Alex And The Monsters, performing songs I felt were inspired by country music, changing the tempo set by the previous singer . Most memorable was “Oh Lord, I wanna run away!” confirming my hunch about the music’s Southern roots. Shourov also explained why his solo act was titled so differently. “I wanted to form a group called Alex And The Monsters, but the rest of the members never got together. So I just continue to perform under that name.”
The singer Salek played a tantalizing game of beginning a song and ending it unexpectedly, which left the audience in rapture and wishing for more. You cannot get more unconventional than not give titles to songs you write. This is what Salek did, yet his friends in the audience knew the words by heart. This speaks of all the evenings he spent singing for his friends on rooftops. This is definitely how music is born in Bangladesh.
Tapesh Chakraborti performed the only duo act with Dhruto. The former sang a folk song called “Bhober Astana” to put everyone back in a trance again, and the latter performed two songs, Bicchinno Mon” and the frenetic “Kuasha,” to loud cheers.
Then came Rushnaf Wadud who drew everyone in by giving frank backgrounds to each of the four songs he performed. His first song was “Chittagong,” which was written in the days of Rushnaf And The Bonno Electric.It was about the missing hills of Chittagong due to the rampant development of cities.
The next song was “Zee Bangla Blues,” which was about the intricacies of the Bengali woman, and the brackets life puts her in. The imagery were drawn from Rushnaf's interactions with his mother. Then he performed “Nishongo Radio,” a song with lyrics about the loneliness of listeners who send text messages to radio stations.
In the final song “Labonno,” something he penned the night before his performance, Rushnaf sang to a lover, telling her that through all the storms in the world, life starts anew afterwards.
Shaam Ahmad was the penultimate act of the show, a new singer who was very amiable and has been performing live for the last two years. He has recently composed some songs for his newest album, which are yet to be recorded. The songs he performed were “Tui Shudhu Jash Chute,” “Kete Jai Din Gulo,” “Shomoy,” “Tududu,” “Ki Shundor Hater Lekha Tomar,” and “Jhor,” which was sung at Jatra Biroti earlier. The “Tududu” track was inspired from jamming with Lucky Akhand, which is his signature humming style. Pretty much all the tracks were about unrequited love, something many of us have experienced. Shaam has a band called Bhanga Murtir Kichirmichir.
The last but not least to perform was Arjeeta Dutta Ichchha who performed one song written and composed by her. Then she recited two poems she wrote, and the predominant theme of her performance was love.
As I was leaving the show, the thought that repeatedly came to mind was: there is no shortage of talent in this bustling city. It is just that they need a stage. Jatra Biroti for now is that stage.