A MUSIC video of F Minor was released on Thursday, February 7. The video ‘Poran Priyo (Beloved)’ starts with the lines — Robi presents/Poran Priyo/featuring F Minor. F Minor is an all-women band. The band has already succeeded to be recognised as the first all-women with ethnic minority background in Bangladesh. Robi, a mobile network operator company sponsored the video. With the first music video, the band has bagged a number of successes. Firstly, the music video successfully becomes a four-minute and twelve-second’s commercial advertisement of Robi. Secondly, it successfully contributes to the newly emerged ‘Valentine’s Day culture’ in Bangladesh, therefore, lends further legitimacy. And thirdly, it successfully portrays a partial life or reality of Chittagong Hill Tracts CHT people.
Corporate domination in the music industry is not a very new phenomenon, but as it appeared in this video, this domination has rather taken an epidemic turn. From a commercial point of view, a corporate house invests money to gain profit, nurturing creative musical instinct is not there priority. From the first second to the last, the audience of the video gets massages from Robi that ‘Robi is presenting the song’, ‘best experience with the country’s only 4.5G Robi network’, ‘Robi GoonGoon code of the song’, ‘from film, song and travelling to health care, everything is digital in Robi’, ‘country’s best imo video call experience only in Robi’ and what not. Surely, the constant presence of Robi is distracting to any listener of the song, it won’t be mistaken to say the makers of the video did not want its listener to forget the brand that brought the song to them. In addition, the audience will see that the video’s two main characters’ dependency on Robi for their communication, relationship and entertainment. The colour composition brilliantly gives priority to red which is also the colour of Robi. So, as an audience of the video, one can undoubtedly recognise the success of the video for becoming an advertisement tool of Robi.
In the history of Bangladesh, February 14 has a great significance. On February 14, 1983, during the martial law regime of HM Ershad, students marched towards Bangladesh Secretariat protesting against the Abdul Mazid Khan-led education commission report and for the restoration of democracy. Police opened fire at the procession. Several students were killed and several hundred were injured. The students’ uprising in 1983 was the beginning of a movement that ultimately knocked down the Ershad regime in 1990. 14th February is observed as ‘Autocracy Resistance Day’ but latter Shafik Rehman introduced Valentine's Day to our youth. On the one hand, the capitalist system has been using Valentine's Day to make profit and on the other hand, the bourgeois political system finds a way to draw a veil over the real history of the day. The title tag of the video is ‘Robi Valentine's Video’ and the video has been made to celebrate Valentine's Day in Bangladesh — a cultural celebration which is trying to draw a veil over Autocracy Resistance Day. Not only an individual corporate institution but the greater part of commercial organisations are doing the same for their profit by boosting this newly emerged ‘Valentine’s Day culture’ in Bangladesh. And F Minor with its first video successfully contributes to the ‘Valentine’s Day culture’ and as a listener/audience, it surely is disappointing.
What has been shown and what has not been shown in the video, cannot but be political because ‘why’ is always there. Forced dispossession of Jumma land, restriction on political activity and continual violation of human rights are the most pressing issues in CHT. But this does not mean that there is no organic love relation between man and woman. By only showing digitalised version of love, dependent on Robi, the video has skipped the natural relation between man and woman. In the video, the audience will not get slightest clue of the pressing issues except the constructed, stereotyped reality of ethnic people. From this sense, the audience can find the video’s success for stereotyping the idea of ‘love’ and portraying the very partial life or sugar-coated reality of CHT people.
Having said all that, a song in a language other Bengali surely is a welcome tune in an otherwise singular-monolithic cultural development that does not see or sing anything but Bengali. Cultural plurality should be always welcomed and F Minor’s labour to come up with ethnic languages’ songs naturally demands appreciation. But what the one is doing or producing — the content cannot be ignored or taken lightly.
Nasir Uz Zaman is a member of the New Age Youth team.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from FYI