Q&A with musician and film-maker Faisal Roddy
Faisal Roddy is a creative maverick. He is a lyricist, singer, songwriter, rapper, and, if that wasn’t enough, he is also a filmmaker.
In short, he is the epitome of the phrase, “a disgustingly creative individual.” In this interview Faisal talks about his work with the hip-hop group Rajotto (consisting of Faisal Roddy and Towfique Ahmed), his solo career as a rapper, singer and lyricist, and also about his film-making career.
Rajotto, a solo music career and now your endeavours into film-making...it is safe to say you are a driven creative force. What exactly is it that drives your passion to create?
I am a big fan of poetry, music and film. I started writing lyrics from my very childhood but those remained as just lyrics and I did not bring them to life in the form of songs. I wrote plenty of lyrics before the first one turned into a song.
The day I create something, may be even two simple lines; it gives me the feeling of being alive. It feels great and no amount of money can replace that feeling.
My father was a very good singer but even though he never recorded any material, I was fortunate enough to be always surrounded by his melody in my childhood. I believe that to create something is equivalent to being in touch with the divine.
Film and music are two different outlets. How do you think the work that goes into making the final content varies in these two mediums?
In artwork the things can only get better, I mean, for me at least, I cannot label one medium to be superior than the other.
To me, aesthetics are encrypted in nature. All we have to do is follow the implied notion of the universe. Both in music and film an artist illustrates his or her feelings about the life he or she is living and is surrounded by.
In music the narrative is in abstract form while in film the narrative is structured and tangible. In both mediums I prefer not to overdo things before I deliver the final content.
Can you pick a favourite from either of these two?
Music is my soul, while film is what I dream. I believe film is a great vehicle to share my thoughts through my plots. Film is master of art; literature, poetry, music, architecture, paintings, drama all are submerged into one stream.
But it takes quite a lot of effort to make an effective film compared to a song. Though creating a successful tune is also as hard as making a film. Regarding the word favorite, I would prefer to keep quiet. It heavily depends on my mood. To me music is a pacifier while a newly thought plot of a film drives me crazy.
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Rajotto.
Rajotto was formed back in 2009 while I was in the UK. I met my band-mate Towfique Ahmed there. Our musical collaborations began right at the moment we met. It took a really short while to decide that we are a band, because of our performing chemistry.
We completed our first album in 2010 and it was composed by British musician Gareth Redfern. It was released on that year’s Pohela Boishakh from Ektaar music.
Then in 2014 our second album Dashotto was released from G Series. Towfique and I used to jam in Vicarage Lane Stratford where we had plenty of admirers from the community who actually inspired us to unleash our creative venture. It has been ten years Rajotto has been active. I would like to thank our listeners because they are our real inspiration.
What exactly is it about hip-hop that drew you to the genre?
Music is a great tool to talk about your feelings. In hip-hop words are more important than its tune. In this post modern age, globalization is playing a huge role. Dominant cultures are conquering all. While we were thinking about the genre of our band I always preferred a crossover of fusion between our own culture and the dominant.
I don’t want to talk about the history of hip-hop as we already know it. Yes, we took the sound from the West but we infused our own blend of kobigaan and poetry into it. We always tried to portray that Bengali is also compatible with any modern music form.
Moving onto your film-making career, Pathshala received a lot of critical acclaim. How does that make you feel as this was your directorial debut?
'Pathshala' was a learning curve for me and Asif Islam. It feels really great when people react in the theatre with my dialogues. Pathshala has traveled to a few international festivals and also recently been selected by the Information Ministry of Bangladesh for promotion in the international arena.
All this is very overwhelming, but I also had to fight with a mysterious negative force for distribution. As a filmmaker, I must say that we need a national authority for distribution. If we really want to shape our future generations and preserve our own history and culture, films can play a vital role. I hope someday the government will understand the essence of it.
We know that there is a certain type of film that does well in festival circuits. Was there a conscious effort to make Pathshala conform to those ideas?
When I first thought about the story I didn't even think of the genre of the film. All I was looking for was a good story. Asif and I were very excited once it was scripted. I didn't even think about the commercial aspects of it.
To me art has to serve the society in someways or it is meaningless. Pathshala is doing good in the festivals but this film is made for the children of our country and to some extent the children of the entire world. Pathshala is a great motivational tool. The film will get its real success once it can contribute to reduce the current dropout rate.
What can you tell us about your upcoming film Jajabor?
Jajabor is a story of a musician named Aninda played by newcomer Rocky Khan. We already shot 90 percent of the film. It’s about Aninda's journey of music and his love life. The lead female character Lina is played by Oishorjo who is also a newcomer. Both were cast by me.
I searched a long time for the right cast. I did wait for that. Once I found them, they had to go through a rigorous process of grooming as both of them were new. People are already talking about its first look that was published on social media.
The film has 14 songs sung by renowned artists from Bangladesh and India. People are eagerly waiting for the songs. I would like to reveal a secret to you that the main strength of Jajabor is not its songs but its story and dialogue. The entire team of Redmark production deserves the credit for Pathsala and Jajabor.
Any other projects you have coming for us in the near future in either music or film?
I probably won’t start shooting any new film in 2019. My third film's preproduction will start at end of this year after Jajabor gets released in between the two Eids.
But my band Rajotto is working with few singles and I am also working on a music video for a track titled Shadhu, composed by Nabil Hossain. Shadhu will be my first ever solo rap track.