The BCB T20 Opening Concert- fingerprints of a confused nation!

Yesterday I went to the BCB T20 Opening Concert. I was under the impression that it was an ICC event, so was expecting to see the usual bunch of stuff I am used to seeing on TV, like players rallying with flags, some cultural shows and fireworks etc. I heard Akon and AR Rahamn was here, so was expecting to see cameo performance. But as it turned out, the event was not really an ICC event at all but rather one organized by Bangladesh Cricket Board  and it most certainly cannot be passed off as an opening ceremony. Basically it was a concert, plain and simple , with AR Rahman being the main show, and Akon also chipping in with a cameo at the fag end.

Much criticism has been made in the social media about this event and also about the price of the ticket. I got in with a complementary ticket (courtesy of a client from the sporting arena) which was priced at Tk. 20,000. I can’t imagine myself paying 20,000 Tk to buy this ticket! On the event itself I met some friends who also came in with complementary tickets. I seriously doubt how many people actually bought the tickets (which went as hight as Tk. 75,000, I am told). Questions may be raised as to how BCB gathered this fund to hold this event and more importantly was this event at all necessary to do, given that ICC did not officially acknowledge this event? On a lighter vein, some melody , some dance , some fun..what’s the harm in it eh ? after all the pre-election violence, let the nation just take a chill pill !

Well apparently many people in the social media is complaining that if we are to have fun in a T20 opening event, we rather do it in ‘deshi style’.They are of the view that events such as these are an opportunity to portray our own culture and heritage and BCB did not do the best job they think. On the other end of the spectrum I have come across Facebook comments that says AR Rahman and Akon are world class artists and our local artists are not up to that standard to compete with them. If the people are interested to buy tickets and watch these celebrity artists then why stop them ? A third category of people cannot understand what the fuss is all about; “if you dont like it, just turn off the GOD DAMN TV” they say.

Well I am trying to appreciate the view of the second category who think it is fine to present mega celebrities before our hungry audience as clearly there is a market for it, and people are willing to pay the heavy fee charged. Proponent of the ‘open market’ will say, our entertainment industry will thrive when there is completion from superior foreign artists. If the people want  some melody,dance and romance, why not let them have it as our local industry is not fulfilling the demand of the people.

But is our ‘entertainment industry’ merely a ‘product’ for the market ? I know hollywood and bollywood is, but I am asking the question should it be ? Yes the reality of ‘revenue generation’ is ingrained with any artistic work, that no body can deny. But should ‘entertainment industry’ give the people what ever it demands  or should there be certain standards or values that the industry will seek to promote ? The Iranian film industry is a good example. They are not as technologically advances as Hollywood or Bollywood but they do a very good job with the script. Most of their movies have an inner social message which sticks to you long after you are done with the movie.

Coming back to the main issue, there is nothing wrong with foreign artists flying in to celebrate the opening of T20 world cup. Brian Adams did it last time during the ODI World Cup. That was fine, a couple of songs, a few words of appreciation, bye bye. But I did not understand why we had to have a full fledged concert as ‘opening ceremony’ ? And even if we must have one, why does AR Rahman have to be centre stage in it. He could have been the ‘surprise guest artist’. As an official BCB event , which effectively should be considered a national event, I think there was no harm in our local artists getting more attention in the event. Clearly our local artist did not like it much. Ayub Bacchu of LRB expressed his grievance  openly on stage. Miles walked out of the event as organizers did not let them play due to shortage of time (just imagine, MILES cannot play because there is no slot available to them ? wowwwww).

Souls and LRB playing to a dis-interested crowd in the afternoon.

I am not a ‘bangla purist’, my problem is not that Hindi or English songs were played, far from it. My grievance is with the nature of the event itself i.e, the content and management of the event ; the prime minister gracing the occasion makes it a national event, yet I found the program itself to be an entirely ‘commercial concert’ focused around AR Rahman mainly. It was also a little hypocritical at one point when they were showing promotional videos on Bangladesh and its culture. I am not really a big fan of the cliche ‘motherland diloguebaji’ and generally don’t pay much attention to it, but this was just so downright into your face. We are hosting the world cup and we are hosting the concert with the tax payers money, and yet we felt the need to to hire an Indian artist to be the centre of attraction , that I find a little hard to reconcile.

AR Rahman performing, Excellent light works, projection and choreography. loads of costume change and bollywood dance moves

Akon first time in Bangladesh.

I am not a big fan of bollywood music or hip hop, so the music was kinda okayish for me. But what I liked best was the fireworks. Man it was awesome!