Whenever I hear of Bangladeshis making a name for themselves in a world where their background is just a historical fact and not an overriding characteristic and artistic trait that handcuffs them with a label, I get excited and feel the urge to share their work with everyone. To simplify: a Bangladeshi musician who plays pop music as opposed to a pop musician who happens to be Bangladeshi. Do you notice a difference in those descriptions? If yes, you understand already. If not, you will in a bit.
Science & technology is more appreciative of a person’s talent rather background. It doesn’t matter where you hail from, your work is what defines you. The arts world, esp. music, film, and theater – and specifically some influential entities in the West – is criminally narrow minded in that department. Thankfully, those who appreciate art for art are blind to anything except the work iteself.
I’d mentioned the Ali sisters some weeks ago. Then I found out about Monica Yunus who is a rising star in the music world. Here she is paying a tribute to her father at the 2006 Nobel Peace Price Concert.
Today I read about Akram Khan in the NY Times. His accomplishments at a young age is remarkable; he is on to becoming one of the greatest choreographers of dance – he’s already been awarded the MBE for his contributions to dance in the UK in 2005. Man is just 33.
As I write this, there are many more young Bangladeshis out there who dream of becoming the next Spielberg, the next Steve Jobs, the next John Coltrane, the next Bresson, the next Obama. I too am one of them (well, maybe not Obama). I wish I hadn’t let some early years gone by without giving it all… but… I am not dead yet.
If you’re out there and your heart tells you to go for something – go for it. There will be days when you doubt your existence but your destiny, you must know, will play hard to get, tease you. You give up, it gives up on you. Let others be good at branding and labeling you. You be good at what you do. It’s a different world now – you can choose to be great or you can choose to step aside.
The road not taken is the road not given a chance.