Friday, December 29

Maa Shaa' Allah :)

The night before Eid-al-Adha. I was thinking I should post something religiously significant...but quite frankly, it wouldn't be very sincere. So I thought I'd post on what my family and I are really doing the night before Eid.

There is this show in Bangladesh on NTV that is the analogue of American Idol. It had a tremendously successful first season (my favorite dude from a small village won...maybe I'll write about Nolok in some other, future post). The second season ended this morning with a young, adolescent girl from another tiny village whose life is forever changed.

Salma Akhter's background perfectly represents that of over 80% of people in Bangladesh. The place she calls home couldn't even boast a brick--her mom wore cotton sari's all her life, as she did even for the show's brief interviews. Her father is a modest man, proud of a daughter who strived against unimaginable odds to find herself in a place her village couldn't have even dreamt of together. What is most beautiful at this threshold between the end of a journey and the beginning of a very different, new one is to hear that, indeed, the best people are grateful to Allah first, as Salma and her parents sincerely expressed.

Millions of Bengalis all over the world tuned in to watch Nolok's journey last year, and millions more partook in this year's CloseUp 1 "Tomake Khuchchhe Bangladesh" 2006. Both years have proven that in the end, people want to hear a voice that could only represent Bangladesh, and they want to see a person come from the deepest place of a small nation's beating heart. Nolok and Salma both won with their voices first, then with their stories. The songs they sang best, in my opinion, were "polli," or village/folk songs. Their rhythms and rawness are unique to the rural masses who live with modest means, mostly making their livings off of agricultural work. These are the songs and voices to which industries like Bollywood will always be blind, Al Hamdulillah. Also, the 54,000 contestants were nearly all in either their 20's or 30's, and Salma's eligibility (God knows how old this girl actually is) was actually an issue near the beginning of the competition. And now, she has her own car, over one million Bangladeshi taka, and is preparing with 9 other contestants to tour the US, Canada, and England with their addition to record deals and the adoration of the tens of millions of Bengalis who sent in their SMS votes from all over the world (including my grandma in Houston).

Below should be two YouTube videos; they're both in Bengali. The first video shows Salma at her try-out for the show. The three judges asked her to do a few distinct styles. In the end, one judge realized her voice and way of singing would best suit "polli" songs, so that's the main one you'll watch her perform as the judges sort of beatbox (tabla-box?). To watch her perform that song on stage in the 3rd round, click here. The second video is a little more than six months later--after she was accepted for a vocalists' camp for the top contestants. Notice how a village girl was transformed into someone even she had never seen herself as. It's a little scary, but inshaa'Allah, she's a smart girl and will make good choices. "Ami chailam jare, bhabe pailam na tare" is possibly my favorite song--it's the first of the two songs in the second video. Enjoy, and Eid Mubarak : )

PS. I am well aware that the female voice is awrah--now you are aware, too. Choose wisely! :P


Anonymous said...

Well, I was wondering where you were!!!

Samira said...

Wherever you go, there you are? Yeah, i've been studying...and reading a book on the neurobiology of writing and not being able to write. Maybe i'll write about it sometime. Thanks for keeping track of my existence though :)