"Modhu hoi hoi bish khawaila" - the song that took the internet by storm in 2016 and catapulted a poor local massage kid Jahid Hosen into instant stardom, can be called the exact moment that morphed all social strata into one unique audience. From that point onward, Emran Hossain, a young musician who discovered the amazing young talent Jahid, decided to devote his musical journey to finding such raw talents hiding in various corners of the country. Now, his initiative, ‘Made In Bangladesh Initiative and Talent Hunt by Emran’, promotes young talents across the country, and he has successfully replicated the earlier success by launching many other young singers through his platform. Emran Hossain has also performed in the much-lauded film 'Deja Vu' by the director Raihan Shashi which garnered praises from critics and won a number of international awards. This writer joined the talented musician and promoter Emran Hossain in a virtual adda and talked about his journey in the entertainment industry.
Beginning of the journey: "I have always wanted to help the local talents that go unnoticed in our plain sights or any formal talent hunts," Emran said about his inspiration to delve into the promotion of young talents, "I had two passions in my life, one being music, and the other helping those who are in need of it. Alhamdulillah, Allah has granted my both wishes."
Emran is a talented musician by his own merits, founding a rock band 18th Years, later joining the hip-hop group Bad Boyz Crew and releasing four studio albums. Currently, he is leading the band Sutorang, the name given by Ayub Bacchu himself.
"I have been doing this since 2013, and the work took off after 2016 when Jahid went viral. About thirty young musicians have been promoted by me since, and all of them are doing quite good. Being a good samaritan gives me peace, and I aspire to continue my journey hereafter."
Status quo of the Bangladeshi music industry: Emran Hossain did not mince his words when talking about the current situation of the Bangladeshi music industry and expressed his dissatisfaction with it.
"Youngblood is needed to rejuvenate the industry, young artists who can bring freshness to the music scene. Sadly, they are sometimes not given enough exposure."
The established artists need to step up to promote the new faces, and the music labels need to invest in them. Only then the fresh batch of artists will come forward to impact the industry. He believes that as long as the establishment does not make way for the changes, the mediocrity that has been pervading the music industry at present will not go away.
Social media and its growing impact on the entertainment industry also worry Emran Hossain. In his words, "Social media is the most powerful force in today's world. It has taken out some of the best talents of the country, and my whole initiative relies heavily on it. Without social media, boys like Jahid would have not been given a second chance in their lives. However, it also draws our worst sometimes. Besides, many artists today seek cheap, easy fame. Social media has opened a floodgate of attention seekers and fame-seekers who just want an easy way to stardom. We have created a star out of a man like Hero Alom, yet even the most prestigious and iconic brands in our country are struggling. For one such internet sensation, ten true artists are lost forever."
Emran wants to become a name big enough to lift the true artists of our country to the mass audience, and for that, he is toiling day and night.
"I believe that people will fish the true art out of an ocean of cheap garbage. This is not my optimism, it is my belief, as all my growth has been organic without any kind of sponsorship and promotion. Good things will always reach the masses."
He is also trying to introduce the native Bangla musical instruments to modern music. He was passionately telling the names of various such instruments, indicating his erudition in this regard - Dhaak, Dhol, Kara, Nakara, Mridongyo, Pinaka, Dundubhi, Khanjari, Turi, Muhuri, Karnal. Most of the instruments are lost or long forgotten now, and Emran wants to bring those instruments back to life, just like he inspired ektara tuning with a ukulele.
Diving into acting: "I have never thought of acting," Emran Hossain said about his introduction to the film industry. "When Raihan Shashi Bhai approached me, I was doubtful and the challenge looked a bit too much for me. However, he assured me by saying - 'No one can play the role but you.' The shooting was done in Kuakata, and it was such an amazing journey for me."
The film 'Deja Vu' has won numerous international accolades. Among them is the Special Jury Award From El grito de los sin Voz (Spain), and the Official selection From the Liftoff Global Network film festival of pinewood studio (UK). It has also become a semi-finalist at the esteemed Cannes World Film Festival. It also received the Special Jury Film Award at the White Unicorn Film Festival and has taken a place at the Official Selection of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
Future plans: "Do you want to pursue acting?" asked the writer, and Emran was effusive about his next project - a thriller film by the same director. The film, titled 'Chakrabaki' will hit the theatres in 2023, making the big-screen debut for Emran.
Emran wants to open a music school where students will be taught music free of cost. He got the idea from Ayub Bacchu, and he wants to fulfil the dream of his respected maestro.
To reach Emran, one needs to take thirty seconds to one minute video of the local performer, and send it to the page 'Talent Hunt by Emran.' Such initiatives by Emran Hossain to promote the raw, unfiltered musical talents of the country will bring new life to our slumping musical industry.
The writer is an undergrad student of the Department of Economics at the University of Dhaka. [email protected]