The director of Saudha poet T M Ahmed Kaysher has been conferred the pride of Bengal award at the Churchill Hall of British Parliament, the House of Commons last Wednesday (20 July). A British-Indian company Avotech Foundation initiated this award four years ago to honour the unique contributions of Bengalis, from both Bangladeshi and Indian origin, in the world’s political, cultural, academic and commercial arena. This award has also been offered to Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, cricketer Sourav Ganguly and many other distinguished Bengalis of different disciplines.

A special honour was paid to the life and works of Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman this year and lifetime achievement award goes to prominent Bengali Rabindrasangeet singer Rezwana Choudhury Bannya. A well-known newscaster Dr Zaki Rezwana Anwar from British Bangladeshi origin received this award for her tireless role in health/Social care and Mr Kaysher for his contribution in Arts and culture.

Anchored by a prominent TV presenter and spoken-word artist Urmee Mazhar, the  chairperson of the award Anna Firth MP welcomed the audience in a brief-speech and the trustee of Avotech Foundation Samit Biswas explained the background of the award prior to the dinner thrown for the awardees and distinguished guests from British politics, media, arts and business arena. Rushanara Ali MP, Virendra Sharma MP, the Deputy Mayor of London City Rajesh Agarwal and few other media and business leaders were handing over the awards to all awardees of 2022.  Mr Samit Biswas said, “this is the only award aimed to honour the phenomenal contributions that Bengalis are making in the world.”

In a brief reaction, Mr Kaysher, the awardee of Bengal’s pride in arts and culture said, “From my university life I was intrigued by existentialist philosophy and was a firm admirer of French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who declined the Nobel prize in literature. He always believed in motivation that should come from someone’s inner-self instead of any external source. I had equally repudiated many awards and recognitions without having a second thought, too but I decided to accept this firstly to honour all supporters, well-wishers, volunteers, artists and audiences who have been passionately supporting our vision for the last 13 years. Whatever I do, would be just impossible to carry on, specially without any mainstream grant – this is an absolutely audacious journey against the grain. I thought I should come and pay honour to Ilika Chakraborty who thought I deserve this award; and to all who have been helping to achieve Saudha’s vision to present pure arts of different traditions at the highest standard. 

Mr Kaysher continued “If I have done anything good, it’s perhaps because of the idea of internationalism I was intrigued by in my adolescence. I and Saudha have been promoting less-known but absolutely powerful artists, writers on the world-stage without paying attention to my own work. We have been creating bridges between human-beings of different corners of the world, different cultural traditions since Saudha was born.  We brought different art forms together so that it can create new meaning and intensify the emotions through complementing and interpreting each other. This journey has been loved by the audience, specially new audiences of different arts  that we created a systematic campaign for. I was asked a few days ago when we staged our production called Frida Kahlo through Indian classical music at the Royal Albert Hall – why Frida? What’s her connection with Indian classical music? I always replied – I count myself as an inheritor of the cultural treasure of the world, too, as soon as I managed to explore the beauty and affinity of the same human emotions the art forms I am inheriting by birth.”

T M Ahmed Kaysher is a poet, fiction-writer, film and literature critic as well as the director of Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music, one of the leading Indian classical as well as global music promoters in the UK.

He has been conferred Leeds Civic Award by the Lord Mayor of Leeds City Council recently (7 May 2022) for his significant contribution in the promotion of arts literature and music nationwide and all across the world.

He directed many critically acclaimed Bengali opera, interpretative music presentations with other art forms and poetry-theatre in many prestigious venues that include SouthBank Centre, the House of Commons and many other prestigious venues all around the country. The recent one is in Royal Albert Hall, a world-class concert on Re-interpretation of Frida Kahlo through Indian classical music by the best of the globe.

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