Monday, January 11, 2010

Adieu 2009 : Reminiscing the roller-coaster ride of the past year - Part 4

Well...I’m guessing a lot of you have been waiting with bated breadth for this post (Naaah! That’s just my big fat ego thinking out loud “I’m so darn clever with my writing!” :D :P)

Hmmm ... I’d mentioned an illicit love affair, didn’t I? Yes.. it was quite a delicious one too. Ok, ok! Enough of me joking around. Basically Laila had put forth an intriguing idea of a murder-mystery musical to Shammu Bhai and we all decided that it would be something really fun to do. So Laila wrote the main script called “Murir Moa”, with GrooveTrap providing the music as the live band. And yes... some of us had to act.. hehe.

Oh! .. What is a murder-mystery musical you ask?

I’m sure the ‘musical’ part is self-explanatory. As for the murder mystery.. it was a comic take on the classic whodunnit mysteries we’re all so familiar with – at least to those who’re into popular detective stories or TV series. Members of the audience who attended the musical basically saw a murder take place (not a real one of course) at the onset of the show. Then they were all provided with clues – that is, the motives for the murder and all sorts of other sordid details on each character’s part started to come glaringly under the spotlight (pun intended!). From the clues the audience were then left to guess the identity of the perpetrator of the crime, before the solution was revealed during the final act. And as is typical, the investigation was carried out by an amateur sleuth.. well an inspector in this case.. played by Laila .. assisted by her bungle-head of a sub-inspector played by her friend Murali, who’s got great comic timing. Oh..and no one could leave the show as everyone in the room was a suspect until proven otherwise. Some of the audience members also had to sit in the interrogation chair mind you!

Me? I played the rich, tragic (black) widow.. Nargis.. of the poor, poor murdered soul.. Chor Khan.. sigh. Incidentally the play was called “Murir Moa” because my soon-to-be-dead hubby was a businessman and he was murdered at the launching party of his latest product of...(you guessed it!) Murir Moa! Anyways.. the so-called illicit love affair was between Nargis and her young lover, Asif.. who was played by Jasper :D

Chotu Khan.. the lead vocalist of the band “Stonefree”.. played.. Chotu Khan.. the younger brother of Chor Khan. It was funny how Chotu bhai ended up playing a character having his own name. Though he’d been quite nervous about his part (“I’m a musician...not an actor”) he ended up giving one of the best performances of that night.

As I was meant to play a rich.. but not a sophisticated.. missus, I had to get the proper look. Kuhu, the famous artist and fashion designer, who is also Laila’s mum, was our Costume Supervisor. She took me to Ban Thai, where she instructed Qamrul (the owner) that I was to be given a garishly 60s look. And so the transformation begun. I could hardly recognize myself in the mirror once he was done. I think that was meant to be the point.

The best part about the whole episode I must say were the rehearsals. Particularly the ones with Jasper. It was so so funny to watch Jasper trying to remember his lines! Though singing comes as naturally to him as breathing.. acting was a whole different ball game for him. It was cute to see how Laila’s voice kept rising in impatience at certain times when she was trying to teach Jasper some tricks on how to memorize his lines.. lol.

Anyways, you’ll all have to undergo the torture of reading just one more post before I start on the MJ tribute. There is NO way I’m going to leave out the experience of doing our very first “Tribute”.. which is a regular musical event held by a major event management firm here. In our case, it was a tribute to classic rock and GrooveTrap went on to perform the songs of not only as legendary a band as Led Zeppelin, but to share the stage with a similarly legendary band of this country... MILES.

So till my next post.. have a listen to some of the more less-famous tracks of these two bands. Yes... I mean other than “Stairway to Heaven” or “Chaad Tara” :P


Snapshots from the show. Credits: Bijoy

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Adieu 2009 : Reminiscing the roller-coaster ride of the past year - Part 3

My last post had ended with reminiscing over MJ and his leaving us too soon. I miss him... or to be more precise... his presence in this world... Sigh... :(

Anyways...on to more light-hearted stuff...before I start on how bloody-effing-amazing the experience of doing the Tribute to MJ had been... I do want to mention a few other fun times that GT experienced during 2009...

The first one has to do with two shows we had outside Dhaka city. It was a NOKIA event, and as part of the launching strategy for their latest cell phone to hit the Dhaka market, they were arranging all these shows across Bangladesh... Chittagong, Sylhet, Bogura, Rajshahi and Khulna...called the “Nokia Boishakhi Music Mela”. We were asked by the agency which handles Nokia, to open for the main band...Warfaze. Unfortunately due to work and study pressures, we could only accept the dates for the last two cities...:(

Boy it was hectic. But it was so much fun! All road trips are, and if you get paid for something that you love doing...well...all I can say is “Woohooo!”

Because my back was still in its ‘recovery’ mode I went lying down the whole up the space of two people feet resting on Saif’s lap...

One of our closest friends..Sabir...accompanied us on these trips...he's kind of like our very own "LIVE" entertainment. He kept trying to pull Jasper's leg ALL the time throughout the trip :D. I recall one time... while we were returning to Dhaka.. Jasper's dad called, asking about our whereabouts...and Sabir on the spot blurted out "Jamurki!" And Jasper actually told his dad "Amra akhon Jamurki'te" (We're in Jamurki)..and then after hanging up, went "What the fudge is Jamurkiii????"

The show at Rajshahi was our first brush with the mass audience outside Dhaka city. And we soon came to realize that forget GrooveTrap... and even Warfaze. This crowd was purely the L.R.B/Ayub Bachchu and Nagar Baul/James crowd...Beyond the Warfaze songs which had gained mass popularity, the audience were not that overly familiar with the band’s full discography.

So it was a lesson well learnt. For Khulna, we went on to include AB’s “Mon Chaile Mon Pabey” and James’ “Sultana Bibiana” in our setlist...a nice lil medley of the two..hehe. Jasper came on stage, bespectacled, wearing his Bermuda shorts,...and went on to shout out to the crowd... “Khulna! Kotha kom! Kaj Beshi!” Afff...such a nice mimic of James he is ..down to the singing! Haha. Needless to say we made the crowd go wild that time.

Anyways...the overall trip to Khulna was way better than Rajshahi. We were put up in a fab hotel in Khulna..Hotel Royal International...where other than the nicely furnished rooms, the food was excellent. Best part? A complementary glass of fresh juice (the lemon one is AWESOME) served with the three basic meals of the day :D

As Russel Peters would say.. A Class!

The best ‘gift’ we got out of this show was about four months down the road. We had gained a fan in Khulna who, while on a sojourn to Dhaka, called up our bassist, Adil Bhai, (he’d saved the number back during the tour)...and requested to come to one of our live shows if we were having any.

And so we invited him over to our gig at the Nokia Glitterbug event on August 13th... :) and took a snap together...

Sigh... (this one’s a good sigh... hehe)

Anyways, the second experience I am going to elaborate on in my next post. For now all I’ll say is that it involved an illicit love affair...a murder...and a whole lot of hair-spray!


Clockwise from bottom left: Sabir, Jasper & Me, On with the show, Saif, the crowd at Khulna, Me lying in the micro, the current GT line-up on a launch 

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Adieu 2009 : Reminiscing the roller-coaster ride of the past year - Part 2

Hello everyone…

On yesterday’s post I’d left you all at the point where I’d been talking about our tribute to ABBA shows at the Dhaka and Chittagong Clubs. Of these, the latter stands out quite starkly in my mind.

It was a Thursday…the 25th of June.

The show was the most fun we’ve had in a while. After all, it’s given that there’ll always be an increased level of excitement when performing in any shows outside Dhaka city, that involves any modicum of travelling. The setting, the crowd…it’s all different…all new. We were even accompanied by a guest performer, Sunny...who's one of my friend, Tooki's, bro-in-law :)..that is Sunny's her hubby, Sham's (who's also my friend) younger sibling. He was playing as our second keyboardist.

Laila had toned down her script a little to avoid any faux-pas with the more conservative Chatgaiyyas (n.b. before this statement makes your hackles rise, my hubby is one and I’m just stating a widely known sentiment here…not making any personal attacks, lol) and I remember that while I’d travelled by plane to Chittagong because of my back pain, the rest of the GT gang, along with a couple of friends, had opted to travel by a microbus. They’d started off early morning on the day of the show and all other variables remaining constant, should have arrived in Chittagong by one in the afternoon…max.

Well if only life was a fairytale. Well it isn’t. And there are no fairy godmothers to help out either.

The micro met with a slight miss-hap along the way…near Kachpur bridge…and was declared, on the spot, unfit for further travel.

And so the gang waited in a ramshackle of a tong’er dokan (i.e. roadside tea-stall) for another micro to come all the way from Dhaka. Needless to say, by the time they arrived at the club, all their energy had fizzled out, Shammu Bhai’s nerves were frayed to the point of non-existence, and we had only a couple of hours in our hands to perform a sound check and then get ready for the main show.

As usual, once the show started the adrenaline rush kicked in. The best part was when we all ganged-up on one of our closest friends, Fahim, to play a small, small part in the script during Laila’s rendition of “Does Your Mother Know?”. He was simply fab on stage…all cocky and sure…until Laila, struck with sudden inspiration and as befitting her character in the play, started unbuttoning his shirt…haha! Then he became all flustered and kept re-fastening his buttons as soon as Laila was working them open…:D It was a classic candid-camera moment.

Once the ABBA tribute had been wrapped up, the crowd and our manager-cum-biggest cheerleader Shammu bhai, started clamoring for a usual GrooveTrap “set list” of songs. And so we made the crowd shake their bootie with a few popular tracks, and as is our trademark, ended the set with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

We then sat down to sample the rather interesting menu...biriyani with red wine. It didn’t matter that Saif and I are teetotalers. We could still sympathize with the rest of the diners, who were thrown into a mild state of confusion over the whole thing. The biriyani was fab though. In fact, everything was fab with the world. The DJ had come on, and high on the feel-good rush at the end of a great gig, we danced till our feet couldn’t take it anymore. Then while I went to bed (the boring girl that I am…well I did have a raging headache!), the whole gang stayed up till nearly 4 AM, playing UNO in one of the bigger rooms.

None of us…nor the rest of the world, I can say…could have predicted what was coming next…

The following morning we all woke up to the terribly shocking news. Michael Jackson had passed away…apparently of cardiac arrest. It’s eerie how one remembers every single detail of a moment in time when faced with a situation that is simply to horrible to grasp. I can describe that day to a tee. And I kept thinking about how we’d been planning to do a tribute to MJ since the beginning of the year…and not just perform his songs but put forth a full-fledged show with his most famous dance sequences. And we’d performed “Thriller” just the night before! And now some nondescript news presenter on television was claiming that he was gone?!? How was that even possible?

The guys were all a bit stunned by the whole episode I’d say. They couldn’t express their feelings quite as easily and the only way they were able to pay their respects to this iconic entertainer was on the road back home. Saif tuned the micro’s radio to the same frequency as his cell phone’s FM transmitter and then proceeded to play MJ’s full discography saved in his playlist, all the way from Dhaka to Chittagong.

I think that is perhaps the most beautiful aspect of MJ’s legacy.

There are many ways one can mourn the loss of someone in their lives. But if you celebrate the very essence…the core principles…that that person stood for, I believe that it is the best way he or she would like to be held in remembrance.

With MJ…it was his music, his love for entertaining and performing, his immense capacity for imagination…that helped him reach out to millions of people all over the world. And so it is by reveling in his songs…be it by listening to them, performing them or even sharing them with future generations…that we show him true respect.

So today I’d like to leave you all with a few lines from one of my favourite MJ songs...

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could’ve been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and make that change!”

Anti-clockwise from top right: The infamous tong'er dokan, Shammu Bhai & his lovely wife Zarah (we'd just landed at Ctg airport), sound check, Laila & moi, singing ABBA!, the performing troupe! - Photo credits my cell phone & Rahul's cam

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Adieu 2009 : Reminiscing the roller-coaster ride of the past year - Part 1

As part of my very own very-short-but-quite-hard-to-do list of “New Year’s Resolutions”, I’d promised myself that I would start writing again and bring back to life my "inactive" blogs. This account of events from the past year of everything GrooveTrap, is basically my tentative attempts to get back on that track.

Anyways…this is going to be a part-by-part account (not in one whole big chunk) of certain events that kind of stood out from all the rest of the zillion other things that took place. I’ll post something every other day as my poor memory recalls. I just hope it doesn’t bore you all to death. But all in all…it’s good writing practice for moi :D

So...happy reading!


Who was it that said that the best things in life never come easy? Well whoever it was, definitely knew what he or she was talking about…

The very first month of the year saw us paying a tribute to the legendary Swedish pop band ABBA. The movie “Mamma Mia!”, with a star-studded cast including the likes of Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, had brought forth a new-found love and admiration for all things ABBA amongst the general public all over the world. Foreseeing the possibilities, Shammu Bhai, aka Farhan Quddus, who's the owner of one of our favorite restaurants "Le Saigon", was quick to recruit GrooveTrap and the very lovely and talented Laila Plamondon to apply the same successful formula to stage a musical based around popular ABBA songs.

Well, right before the day of the show, I totally busted my back…again.

Yes, it would be the third time over a span of 15 years this has happened and yes, I have a teensy-weensy back problem which actually doesn't give me much trouble if I maintain my exercise regime and a few ground rules…and yes…that basically means that I'd been a bad, bad girl…a darn lazy one… :P

Anyways, it was too late to cancel the show of course...all the tickets had been sold and all the basic i's dotted and t's crossed. The so-called cliché “The show must go on” was in fact I realized that day, no cliché after all. It was an undeniable, irrevocable, indisputable...fact.

And so with three pain-killer injections on my…uh…tush…I belted out the likes of "Dancing Queen" and "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight)", when in fact I was in no position to dance or let alone do anything else with a man!

But I’m very happy to say, the night was a resounding success. Laila, who had written this amazingly witty script, saved the day with her flamboyant performance. She truly is a versatile actress. And Saif…thank god…kept a level head, even though he was worried sick about me. His positive vibe rubbed off on the rest of the GT gang and everyone put forth a great show that night. So much so that six months down the road, we did a repeat performance of the show at Dhaka Club, followed by another at Chittagong Club…brought on by popular demand.

Any interesting tidbits from those shows? I’ll save that for the next post I think. Till then here's wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

I'll leave you guys with something to ponder on - it’s good to keep in mind that there will always be “ups and downs” in one’s life. The “ups” are there to give us the highs and the “downs” are there to help us appreciate the “ups” more and teach us the VERY important lesson that…shit happens! :D