In Toronto, the Bangladeshi community is very strong and mostly educated. I attended one event "Liberation 1971" in Scarborough on Friday. Bengali readers of this blog know I have a soft spot for university Bangladesh student associations and usually attend their cultural shows. This show was held by Bangladeshi Students Association-Scarborough (BSAS) and focused on Bangladeshi's struggle for independence.
[Photo Credit:Shahryer Ahmed]
The skits were fabulous. The whole show was mind blowing. The actress pictured above played a mother who receives a letter from her son who went to fight the war. She starts reading the letter, and starts to break down into tears as she reads on. At the end of her skit, she falls down to the ground in tears, and there was not a dry eye in the audience. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant acting.
[Photo Credit:Sharihan Bhuiyan]
There were songs, all brilliantly placed and sung. These are revolutionary songs and evoke strong emotions, and the participants who sang the songs, particularly the singer pictured above, did full justice. Again, they were just superb and the show was fully worth a lot more than the $5 admission they charged.
The Oscars often inaugurate the cultural show season by the BSAs here in the Greater Toronto Area, and this year the bar has been set very high by the BSAS. The downtown St. George BSA usually has the best show, but they would be highly challenged to surpass BSAS's content and performance this year.
There was another event at the Danforth (the hub of the Bengali community here) and they even had their own Shohid Minar!
Again, there was singing, dancing, and all-in-all a good celebration of Bangla. The real Shohid Minar is of course in Dhaka.
All this celebration of Bangla underlines the fact how important our language, culture and music is to us! I in fact know of couples where the girl was non-Bengali and the first questions people ask the guy is "Does she know Bengali? Will she learn? Make sure she learns!" Not your "what does her father do?" or "how did you guys meet?" for us! You will find in Bangladesh even religious people send their daughters off to classes for music and singing. Preserving the Bengali identity is a very big thing.
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Speaking of the Oscars, yesterday was perhaps the first Oscar I watched almost, almost, in its entirety. And no, it was not for Hugh Jackman as some girls seem to be doing!
I was cheering for Slumdog Millionaire and it won big time, especially Best Director and Best Picture awards. It truly is a good movie. I attended this movie long before it was released widely and long before it became a "big thing" so in some sense (strange, I know!) I have a special fondness for this movie and am glad to see it do so well. And of course, a Muslim brown man winning TWO awards for music AND invoking God on Hollywood's big stage was just a bonus!
It's actually funny (not to mention strange) to see some Indians' reactions to this movie.
On one hand are all those proud of the movie and glad that "they" made it. Well, it's not an Indian movie! It's made by a British director, written by a British writer, and produced by a Hollywood studio. Granted it has some Indian actors (even the leads are British) and set in India but in the end - it's a Hollywood movie. But, you know, I am happy for them and understand their pride.
And then there are the other Indians who hate the movie and think it promotes cliches and doesn't show the "real" India. That's a stupid debate and this movie not only shows how MOST Indians live but raises poverty on the big screen - a subject many Indians would rather not talk about.
In the end, it's best not to take it so seriously and just enjoy it as a good tale and yarn. It may also be the first time a movie that has cricket in it (the children playing in the airport and one of the questions on the game show) as Best Picture at the Oscars so that's something!