One name that has managed to stand out and captivate the hearts of the nation’s young crowd in the mixed tapestry of Bangladesh’s music scene: Ahmed Hasan Sunny, who rose to stardom with his melodic voice and captivating stage presence, becoming a musical sensation and an icon among Bangladesh’s youth. His ability to connect with the audience rapidly won him a devoted following. His compositions struck a chord with listeners, and his ability to convey profound emotions via music made him a role model for many music enthusiasts. During an exclusive interview with TINDS, Sunny shared about his amazing journey of coming this far and becoming the sensation that he is today.
TINDS: Tell us a little about your childhood. Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Sunny: I was born in Elephant Road, Dhaka, and I grew up around there as well. I had a rather interesting childhood because I grew up in a colony, and life was kind of limited within the boundaries of the colony. I did not realize how hectic a city Dhaka is until I grew up.
TINDS: What three words would you choose to describe yourself?
Sunny: Artist, dreamer, and visionary.
TINDS: How did you start doing music initially? Enlighten us a little about the start.
Sunny: It’s an interesting story that I started singing because of a shortcoming. When I was younger, I had uncles who used to sing and play the guitar, and it was fascinating. They’d sit down at some corner in Dhanmondi Lake with their friends and sing, and people would gather and listen to them sing songs by BLACK & ARTCELL, basically popular songs of that time, and applaud. When I tried to sing, I figured I wasn’t as good, and I was not doing justice to other people’s music when I tried to recreate it or just basically sing. My friends even made fun of me. It was one fine morning when I decided I should try to stop ruining other people’s music and work on my own. I realized that if I started singing my own songs, there would be fewer judgments and, obviously, no comparisons. That’s how I basically started, it took time, and I practiced a lot.
TINDS: When did your involvement in music start?
Sunny: I was part of a metal band when I was in SSC. I continued that for a while, but soon I lost interest in metal music and stopped playing. But along the way, you meet several people and come across different personalities that help you build a new and better perception of things. I have met people who are writers, singers, etc. from whom I was inspired, and I realized that if I pursued something, it would be more fulfilling if I was applauded for my own creations instead of my version of somebody else’s piece.
TINDS: How many instruments do you play?
Sunny: Not too many. I consider myself a poet rather than a musician. To be very honest, I wanted to be a poet all my life. I think I became a musician because I couldn’t be a poet.
TINDS: From the perspective of belonging to a Bangladeshi family, how difficult do you think it is to pursue a career in the creative field?
Sunny: I would have to agree 100% that it is a struggle to establish the decision to pursue a career in the creative field when you come from a Bangladeshi family or countries around you. I reacted a lot when I was younger, but now I understand their point of view. They react the way they do because they do not have sufficient data or examples of success, to be honest. It is more likely for an artist to fail, according to them. I even ran away from home innumerable times, and my father would often be mad when he’d have to encounter complaints from school and whatnot. He was skeptical at first, but now he is proud of me, provided that I have been able to establish myself as an artist. The more successful we can become as artists, I think it will encourage more people in the future to decide on their careers, and this will leave better examples for parents to consider in terms of supporting their children in what they want to do.
TINDS: We know that you’re not just a musician and that you’re involved in the media in other ways as well. Tell us a little about what you do.
Sunny: I always aspired to become a filmmaker, and I tried my best to go along that way. I studied photography as well. Honestly, I never wanted to be a musician. I make advertisements now, so I guess that’s a step closer to my dream of filmmaking. I had an obsession with it, and I wanted to do whatever it took. I love what I am doing right now. If I wasn’t in the business of directing and making advertisements, I probably would have roamed around the streets with a handcam to shoot because I do what I do because of my passion. Making advertisements now is like going to film school for me because it’s getting me a step closer.
TINDS: You’ve also played a role in the web series ‘Kaiser’. How was the experience of being in front of the camera?
Sunny: I am definitely not an actor, and the role I played was due to the urges and requests of my close associates. I am considered someone who is into poetry and rhythmic music of some sort, and people thought I would be a good fit for the character. I did what I was told, but I am not sure how I did as an actor. The experience was a little scary, to be honest. Being the director and the person behind the camera, I am usually used to navigating and instructing people in front of the camera to do so accordingly. I am demanding as a director, and I was afraid of whether or not I would be able to pull it off in the shoes of an actor. Luckily enough, my scenes were completed without too many retakes; instead, it was often me who was eager to give another shot at the scene to maybe make it a little better.
TINDS: Which song of yours is the closest to your heart?
TINDS: Who would you say is your all-time favorite singer?
Sunny: Undoubtedly, Bob Dylan. I play his music probably the first thing in the morning when I wake up. When he received the Nobel, I felt like it was any of his relatives who got awarded. I was that happy and ecstatic. His music is a perfect fit for every situation, I think. His songs helped me when I was lost, confused, and even indecisive, during a heartbreak or struggling with a philosophical dilemma. His music is a place of comfort.
TINDS: Who inspires you in our music industry?
Sunny: Bassbaba. Sumon Bhai recently commented on one of my posts with Anjun Dutta and wrote, ‘Two of my favorite songwriters’. I met him during an advertisement project, and he complained about not listening to my songs earlier. It was surreal. He is an amazing human being and extremely nice.
TINDS: What would you say you’ve had to struggle with coming this far?
Sunny: Struggle is an inherent part of anybody’s journey, and I don’t think there are many people without it. The only way you wouldn’t have to struggle is if you don’t try and pursue your dreams. It’s hard to name any particular, but the struggles come in all shapes and sizes, financially, mentally, and physically. They could be restrictions from the family, the disapproval of friends and peers, or maybe your loved one. Success comes when you are able to efficiently juggle these obstacles, and it’s never easy. If a snow skier looked at the trees while skiing, they’d most likely hit one along the way, but instead it is the path within the trees that they focus on.
TINDS: What would your advice be to young musicians?
Sunny: Be yourself, whoever you are. Don’t try to be anyone else, because everyone else’s identity is their own. Likewise, you’d have to make one for yourself. Originality is nonexistent, but authenticity is invaluable.