A new nationalist synthesis

Last year, I posted Rumi bhai’s video of Amar Shonar Bangla sung during the opening match of the Cricket World Cup.  I thought the tone-deaf singing perfectly captured the instinctive attachment with the song that most Bangladeshis feel.  But quite a few thought the beautiful song was ‘mis-represented’.  Thankfully, no one has taken me to the courts over this.

Just to be on the safe side, let me begin this year’s Independence Day post with a more harmonic rendition.

It is a beautiful song.  Nothing I say over the fold will remotely match what you’ve just heard.  So feel free to ignore the rest of the post — honestly, I won’t mind.  🙂


Why Bangladesh?

Posted in history by jrahman on March 27, 2011

Singing Amar Shonar Bangla with the whole stadium — the highest point during a cricket match attended by fellow blogger Rumi Ahmed.

For those of us born in Bangladesh, which turns 40 today, along with the red-and-green flag, there is an instinctive, natural identification with Amar Shonar Bangla. Less recognised is the fascinating history of the song, which also tells us the twists and turns in the history of the 20th century Bengal.


Amar Shonar Bangla

Posted in 1971, Bengal, history, music by jrahman on December 13, 2007

A trip to London isn’t complete without a visit to the Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.  About a year ago, when Bangladesh was sleepwalking towards 1/11, I happened to be in London.  One Sunday, after a tour of the Hyde Park, I met up with some family friends at a Deshi eatery in the Banglatown.  One of them asked if I had spoken at the Corner.  I said no.  She said she sang there when she first visited London.  When I enquired what she sang, she replied: Keno?  Amar Shonar Bangla!

Of course she’d sing that, what else would it be, what else would I have sang (no, make that recited, I can’t sing) if I did anything at the Speaker’s Corner?  Those of us born in free Bangladesh tend to identify instinctively with Amar Shonar Bangla — along with the green-and-red flag and shapla — irrespective of differences in religion, class or political opinion.  And yet, there is no clear articulation of why we should.  While we tend to feel our Bangladeshi identity, seldom do we think what it means to be a Bangladeshi, and there is little clear articulation of what kind of a state our People’s Republic should be.