The harshness of climate-related disasters is often what makes Bangladesh newsworthy. It has however, arguably contributed to the exemplary resilience of its people. And the country’s six seasons – instead of the familiar four – have also inspired generations of Bengalis to create music, art and poetry.
‘Six Seasons’ is one in a series of projects I have undertaken to try and secure a place for Bangladeshi art and culture in Britain’s rich and diverse mainstream cultural scene. I would like to thank Rachel Holmes and her team of experts at The Literature and Spoken Words Festival for their support towards achieving this end. My thanks also to Drishtipat Creative and the musicians for their commitment and whole hearted participation in the production. We hope that the contemporary placing of the poetry and songs of Tagore, Nazrul and Jibanananda will draw in a more diverse audience and introduce a younger generation to Bangladesh’s cultural heritage. It is once again an opportunity to give recognition to the plethora of world class British Bangladeshi artists and musicians based in the UK today.
Rabrindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a Bengali poet, songwriter, playwright, novelist and philosopher whose work reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He became Asia’s fi rst Nobel laureate when he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Kazi Nazrul Islam was a Bengali poet, songwriter, revolutionary and philosopher whose work espoused spiritual rebellion against orthodoxy and oppression. Nazrul wrote and composed nearly 4,000 songs, collectively known as Nazrul Sangeet, which are widely popular today.
Jibonananda Das is one of Bengal’s most cherished poets, who introduced modernist poetry into Bengali Literature. His Bengali poetry inspired a pride in Bengali nationhood, which was apparent during the war of liberation in 1971, which gave birth to Bangladesh.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Script and Director Leesa Gazi (Drishtipat Creative)
Music Directors Kishon Khan, Soumik Datta, Sajib Azad
Music Director (Vocal) Imtiaz Ahmed
Choreography Rubaiat Sharmin Jhara
Performers Mita Chowdhury, Arun Ghosh, Jimmy Martinez, Pinu Sattar, Sujit Mukherjee, Nobonita Chowdhury, Sohini Alam, Faisal Gazi, Aanon Siddiqua, Labik Kamal Gourob
Artwork/stage design Shankha Iqbal
Light Ishrat Nishat
Backstage support Rohini Alam
Production coordinator Aneire Khan
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
Leesa Gazi was a member of the Nagorik Theatre Group as an actor in Bangladesh for many years. She is currently leading the London-based cultural group Drishtipat Creative as director, actor and script writer. She is a novelist and a writer of short stories. Her recent plays include Shopno Bilash, and Sonata with Tara Arts.
The music of Bangladeshi born Londoner, Kishon Khan, fuses a medley of world influences with a London sound, consistently crossing boundaries. As pianist, arranger and composer, Kishon has worked with a wide array of prestigious world artists, living and collaborating on numerous projects across continents. He is founder and director of the Cuban funk outfit Motimba and the band Lokkhi Terra – combining his Bangladeshi heritage with music from Africa and the Americas. He has recently finished composing music for the feature film The Last Thakur (London Film Festival) and is about to release Lokkhi Terra’s new album No Visa Required.
Soumik Datta was trained by the legendary Sarod maestro Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta. Having authored three solo albums, he is recognised as a young talent within the British Asian classical music world. He has won several awards globally and runs his own world fusion band Samay. Presently completing a Masters in Composition at Trinity College of Music, Soumik is working towards connecting the improvisational aspects of Indian classical music with elements of orchestra and electronica.
Sajib Azad is a local composer, DJ and is in the experimental electronic band After Art. He has previously performed at a number of London Fashion Weeks and Tokyo Design Tide Festival. He has also composed pieces for a number of theatre productions, television and advertisements.
Imtiaz Ahmed is an exponent of Tagore songs. He has accomplished a distinguished style and regularly performs in countries around the world. His album on Tagore songs in India has acclaimed appreciation in both East and West Bengal. Imtiaz is also well known for rendering the songs of ‘Pancha Kabi’ – the five famous composers of Bengal. He is the lead performer and music director of Drishtipat Creative.
Photos by Simone Sultana & Nasser Gazi