Saturday, May 15, 1999

The 'Melai Jaire' Video

I hope readers will not consider this response as an intrusion - but I could not help overlook the Notice Board 'Hello Mr.Bacchu, James or Shafin would you please reply?' in Rising Star May 13th 1999. as this referred to 'Melai jairay' - a song which I had the honour of composing, singing and made famous by my erstwhile band 'Feedback'. These are my humble observations.

First of all, let me assure you that making a quality music video does not need a lot of money - but tons of creative ideas and a natural flair and ability to understand the pulse of our listeners/viewers. Above all for the video maker to have a sound knowledge about music per se. These prerequisites and qualities, we rock musicians have unfortunately found lacking in Bangladesh video makers - and that poverty exists till today. In a country where ignorance is considered 'cool', churi, nokol or plagiarizng 'passé', and knowledge and hard work 'unfashionable' - what else can we expect!

The 'Melai jairay' video is a case in point. Back in 1994, I on behalf of 'Feedback' got in touch, and received a submission form and a basic guideline from MTV as how to make a video and go about promoting it. The band having absolutely no experience in making a music video and with no idea of how much it would cost us, got around to doing a sensible thing, which bands under similar circumstances do - go get a sponsor. Quickly we contacted a multinational beverage maker - and Takas 4 Lakhs was promised to us to shoot the video. The band would not be paid any money. We agreed, but there was a catch attached to it all: FEEDBACK had to rely completely on the wishes of the beverage manufacturers, advertising agency that would be producers of the video. Beggars cannot be choosers - so we agreed again.

However what transpired over one year time were a lot of bad decisions, bad shoots, bad weather, horrific taste and ideas, bad story boards, bad planning and management. When me and Babu (Feedback's' band leader) traveled to Bombay for the post production - what we were shown on arrival i was a horror story instead of a fun music video. The 'Melai jairay' video was so bad - that I had seen it only twice in my life. The first time, I swore and cursed at everybody around me, the second time, I decided - I wouldn't ever see it again in my life period! To give you an idea nonetheless, it was a high class BTV or BMJ (Beder Meye Jyotsna) kind of musical video tamasha - and despite the fact that the clip was sent more then seven times on seven different occasion to MTV and was never aired - makes my as good as good as yours as to where it ended up? Probably THE NEAREST TRASHBIN at the MTV office in Hongkong.

MTV did not air it because the technical quality of the video was poor - the truth is the 'making' of the video was atrocious and did not rank anywhere near even the 'worst' videos been shown parallel in the channel. The 'Melai Jairay' video was the Titanic of Bangladesh music video - the difference it sank even before its maiden voyage. Thankfully it was not our own money - and how to spend it was also not our decision. It did upset all of us a lot and personally, I remain till this day, distraught with the tragedy. When the beverage manufacturer at a later date wanted this to be aired in BTV during Boishakh of 1995 - I threatened legal action and had this stopped.

I however learnt a lot from this misadventure if we may. Let me point out that there are strict conditions and criteria for submission of video clips across to MTV and Channel V - or for that matter any music video channel's worth its name anywhere in the world - before they can be accepted for airing. Firstly the band/artist's must have a recording contract with a 'recognized label'. By the word 'recognized' it is implied that the label must be affiliated to the IFPI - The International Federation OF Phonograhic Industries. There are reasons for this necessary exercise. Everytime a video is aired by the channel the artist/band is entitled to a royalty (payment). This payment is routed through the IFPI down to the label and on to the bands.

Now all the 'great labels' of Bangladesh like Soundtek, Sangeeta, G Series, CD Sound non of them have any accreditation or affiliation with the IFPI - neither are they interested. They have good reasons - most of them will sound complex to Rising Star readers. However I'll make an attempt. An accreditation with IFPI will compel all the companies to abide by International laws relating to music promotion, distribution and protection of Intellectual Property Right (IPR). That in effect will prohibit Bangladesh labels to stop using low grade tapes to deceive listeners, stop plagiarizing (nokol, chuuri) or pirating works of foreign songs, artist or bands - and above all compel the Companies to start paying royalties to bands and artist - which they don't have to right now and for a long time to come! Shocking as this may sound, Bangladesh artist sell their work (referred to as 'items' down in Patuatooly) and have to accept the token 'one time' payment's made to them. I am no exception.

On the other hand all major Indian labels like HMV/CBS/Magnasound/SONY etc.have affiliation or accreditation with IFPI, pay royalties to their artist's, resist their works from being plagiarised, have heavy handed laws for music (any shop caught with a nokol or smuggled tape in India - is not only penalized, the shop is bulldozed).

It is only because FEEDBACK recorded a compilation of their 10 famous songs in a HMV/EMI India album called JOAR (which included Melai jairay) - could FEEDBACK technically and legally, qualify for submitting a video to MTV. Whilst FEEDBACK qualified legally (incidentally the only band to have ever been recorded by an international label to date) the band failed and failed miserably because of the making of its video. To sum up - bands in Bangladesh are supposed to be making music - not videos. It would be unfair for anyone to expect a band that spends a lot of time recording and playing live to work behind the camera's as well - it would be impossible to shoot a video and appear in it simultaneously ?

Now these are issues we have long been fighting - without luck, and we have felt that the Bangladesh media - including the Daily Star have been insensitive to musical artist and have NOT promoted music as it should have with all the resource and talent freely available to them - specially among the readers of Rising Star. There is no rock press in Bangladesh - and as one has to pay money for their faces to be shown on BTV, one can also spend money and get a COVER STORY in most Bengalee entertainment magazine. The corruption in music is endemic.

This for another day - and only if readers are genuinely interested Last if not the least - this talk about MTV coming down to Bangladesh and 'hunting for talents' and the desperate shout of the presenter that 'MTV is here', the introduction of the 'first Bangladeshi VJ' at The Valentine Day Concert in Sonargaon Hotel was nothing but a massive hoax. It was not in any way an MTV 'event' - but simply a Valentine Day diner dance , a routine Pan Pacific event. Much to the chagrin of the five star hotel's management the hoax was sublimely manipulated and masterminded by a corrupt advertising agency masquerading in Dhaka as the 'official agent' of MTV in Bangladesh.

In reality MTV has no 'official agent' in Bangladesh and the subject agencies only known credibility or the proverbial 'shot in the arm' is that it purchased air time from MTV India for a once in a lifetime airing of Bangladesh band videos. MTV sells air time at a premium - anybody having a sponsor and a tolerable video can make it in MTV-India. That is not so in MTV-Asia. The STORM that was supposed to hit Bangladesh as a direct outcome of that 'great and historic airing' of Bangladesh video, was a bhuwa episode in our countries musical history. I welcome readers of Rising Star to access MTV through the INTERNET and find out for themselves if the channel have really nominated an 'official agent' for Bangladesh. I am pretty sure readers are in for a shock!

I am waiting.

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