It’s amazing how a simple two-letter slogan can keep inspiring generations and still go strong even half a century after it was coined. And the overwhelming success of the Joy Bangla Concert 2017, the third of kind in three years, is a testimony of that.
The “Joy Bangla” slogan ensured immortality back in 1971 by inspiring an entire generation of a peace-loving nation to fight against the might of an oppressive military regime to emerge the unlikely victors in the great War of Liberation.
On March 7 every year since 2015, Centre for Research and Information (CRI) and Young Bangla, the biggest youth platform in the country, have been organizing the Joy Bangla Concert to mark the anniversary of the historic speech that Bangabandhu delivered at the Racecourse ground in Dhaka in 1971. That speech, which has already gone into books as one of the greatest political rhetoric in history, was effectively the declaration of Bangladesh’s independence.
With an unprecedented capacity crowd of nearly 40,000 music lovers, the Joy Bangla concert this year was way bigger than its two predecessors. It was also much bigger than ever before both in terms of online and offline engagements and the involvement of most of the leading rock bands in the country.
So, what does a rock concert have to do with the spirit of 7th March?
Rock music has its own place in Bangladesh’s history. The historic “Concert for Bangladesh” at Madison Square Garden in 1971 raised a massive global opinion against the genocide. Legendary rock artists like George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston and Leon Russel have all become part of Bangladesh’s history by performing in that unique concert.
Times have changed; so have challenges. And the Bangladeshi rock artists are now playing their part in keeping up the spirit of Joy Bangla and the War of Liberation.
Joy Bangla Concert is unique because it brings modern rock renditions of Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra songs. The rebellious and inspirational patriotic songs played in that radio station kept up the morale of freedom fighters and also the people of a war ravaged country.
Cryptic Fate, leading heavy metal band in Bangladesh, performed the legendary song “Teer Hara Ei Dheu Er Shagor” for the third consecutive year at the Joy Bangla Concert. Same goes with top alternative rock band Nemesis who performed the number “Rokto Diye Naam Likhechi” for the third time this year.
Crowd favorite melo rock band Shunno played another Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra song “Aj Rono Shajey,” which has never been released.
“The organizers of Joy Bangla Concert deserve a pat on the back for bringing some of these songs out from a 45-year oblivion. The new generation must understand the role these songs played in keeping up the spirit of freedom fighters,” said Sujeyo Shyam, composer of all the songs performed at the concert.
Starting at 4:30pm, the concert ran until 1:15am in the morning. An overwhelming number of 30,000 people registered online for free on the Young Bangla website for this concert. Another 10,000 or so attended the concert with special VIP passes.
The other bands who performed at the concert were Warfaze, Shironamhin, Chirkutt, Lalon, Arbovirus, Lalon and Spondon 1972.
Leading business groups Beximco, Hamid Group, Gemcon, Confidence, Summit, East Coast, BanglaCat, Orion and WE Mobile sponsored the mega event. Dhaka Tribune, bdnews24.com, Bangla Tribune, Samakal and Ittefaq were media partners; Ekattor, Channel 9, Maasranga, Boishakhi and Gaan Bangla were TV patners; and Radio Dhol 94.0 was the radio partner. Microsoft Bangladesh, Aamra Companies and Polar supported the event as technical partner, wifi partner and beverage partner respectively.
The entire event was carried live on the Young Bangla website, Youngbangla Facebook page and Youngbangla Youtube channel. Some of the media partners also carried the event live on their screens and websites. Of them, bdnews24.com and Gaan Bangla did the live coverage uninterrupted. Nearly one million viewers enjoyed the concert via online and offline media.