At the time of writing this article, Shunno’s latest single “Behula” has been ‘trending’ as number one on YouTube’s music segment for the past 6 days. The music video, animated by Antik Mahmud, touched a million views almost instantaneously, and the song recently crossed the four million milestone.
While it is arguably one of the most astonishing achievements by a Bangladeshi band ever, it would be naïve to assume that Shunno’s latest single can attribute its success to just luck.
“It was a one-year process,” says Imrul Karim Emil, the vocalist and frontman of Shunno. “We focused hard on the process of bringing out an interesting story, rather than just releasing another hit song.”
Before their previous hit single, “Bibiya”, Shunno did not have a new release for quite a while. “After a gap of almost three years, we wanted our next set of songs to represent different stories within our country,” he says. “It is astonishing that Behula received the love it did from the audience, I did not expect it at all.”
Emil says that the concept was a group effort, a result of lengthy discussions with the lyricist, Tanvir Chowdhury. He also attributes the tonal quality to the producer of the song, former Shunno guitarist Shaker Raza. “He has been instrumental in the process, and we trust Shaker’s visions with our eyes closed,” says the vocalist.
Behula is a mythical tale from these lands. In the story, Behula’s husband, Lakhindar, is bitten by a poisonous snake because of his forefathers’ refusal to worship serpent goddess, Manasha.
Behula tries to win Lord Shiva’s approval through dance. Content with her dance, Shiva negotiates with Manasha to give back Lakhindar his life.
Shunno’s brought a fresh angle to the story through and infusing a ‘video-game’ aesthetic, and retelling it through the eyes of Lakhindar.
“The song is a tribute to the strong women in our lives, who constantly sacrifice for the success of their loved ones.”
The band plans to release songs regularly as of now. “You can expect a cricket-themed song before the next world cup,” says Emil. “I would like to thank all the fans for the tremendous support, it really does fill us with the resolve to continue with what we love to do.”
Behula’s success marks a positive shift in attitude towards band music, which some consider ‘acceptable’ only if it maintains a ‘niche’ and ‘underrated’ persona. In truth, good music is to be loved by everyone, irrespective of taste and gatekeeping tendencies.