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Parliament celebrates modern British culture

12By A Shahid

A reception at the Houses of Parliament featuring live music to mark Raja Kasheef and Rubayyat Jahan’s latest songs will take place next month in the Palace of Westminster.

A prestigious event it is a rare honour for any singers to play live music in this place made more famous for politics but even less for Asian or Bengali artists. The musical celebration by Labour MP Seema Malhotra will highlight mainly two songs; Tomake Bhalobashe – O Amar Desh & Jaavidaan both sung in Bengali and Hindi respectively.

The London based singers hail from a mixed British Asian heritage and are very popular in the music circuit and demand for their live performances, songs and videos is high.

Just last month they were singing at the annual Boishaki mela in east London that attracted crowds of up to 50.000. Currently they are in the middle of a number of gigs and charity events as well writing and producing future songs. They have also been shooting song videos in exotic places such as Sicily and Agrigento in Italy, made famous by Bollywood stars. It promises to be a visual delight and is probably the only time a Bengali song that has been professionally made in such plush locations. I cannot wait to view this video. Two of their gigs in recent weeks have been very successful and well attended; take for example the Cavendish hall in Edgware, North London where the show plus dinner raised huge sums of money for Nepal and a personal heartfelt tribute concert to one of Raja’s idols, Mohd Rafi in Birmingham. A timely concert as July marks 35 years since Indian cinema lost its most popular male singer. Not to mention singing at business awards, popping into school reunions or chilling with the Punjabi music legend, Hans Raj Hans! On top of all this, they have a new and somewhat brilliant song for Father’s Day. It is a tender solo offering sang beautifully by Raja with lyrics written by Naeem Haider.

Raja and Rubayyat write and sing songs in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and English.  The singing duo draw on their backgrounds to create exciting music transcending the average three-minute plus pop song; their music has a deeper meaning and context and visual in terms of lyrics, rhythm and melody. Raja describes their music as “language fusion”. It is a good way to describe the coming together of multiple languages. They straddle the wide and brightly coloured canvas that is fusion music. Every song has a fresh and unique sound and rich melodious singing of Rubayyat complements the songs.

Their song, Tomake Bhalobashe – O Amar Desh was penned by Dilu Nasir a well-known London poet.  The song and music composed by Raja with a video by Minhaj Kibriyah uses locations across UK and more locally, Altab Ali Park in Brick Lane interspersed with touristy clips of Bangladesh to good visual effect.

Feltham and Heston MP, Seema Malhotra hosts the event entitled a celebration of Modern British Culture. The MP was elected in 2011 in a by election and then quickly promoted by Ed Milliband to the shadow cabinet as minister with responsibilities to tackle violence against women and girls including female genital mutilation.  Her constituency includes Hounslow in west London and most recently lent her support to yesterday’s Labour victory in Tower Hamlets, is a passionate supporter of the arts and creative industries.

Referring to the celebration evening the MP said, “In a time of history when we are seeing great tension across the world, the message of unity expressed through art and culture will resonate widely”. A keen supporter of music she said, “We can find common ground by blending music and culture with modern society”.

The musical soirée will add a note of humility and compassion as it also features a charity element namely to raise money for the victims of the devastating Nepal earthquake and will feature a short live musical performance by Raja and Rubayyat to end the evening.