One minute interview gives you a chance to hear about your fellow
members, as we share with you the array of
members from various backgrounds and professions who are part of
BritBangla is about its member, highlighting our outstanding individuals
and displaying the talented professionals
and entrepreneurs within the network.
Through this hopefully you will get brief insight of a member’s
profession be it it’s in the world of music or environmental
campaigner and will play an inspiration to you.
We are starting with members who are in the world of media… so here’s
introducing you to Saj Choudhury who’s a BBC
Sports Journalist and many you may already know him from our networking
Drop BritBangla line if you are keen to be featured!
- BBC JOURNALIST
Q. So why a sports journalist?
Well, I studied journalism at Leeds Uni and lived with five
other lads where sport was one of the major topics of
the household. Best not discuss the others!
By luck, I landed an opportunity to work for three weeks unpaid
for, as it was then, the sport sub-section on the
BBC News website in 1999 - a year after I had graduated.
Even though I had trained as a journo, my main role was cropping
pictures and audio for stories written by others...
my bosses eventually trusted me to write stories and made me a staff
member. Bless them.
Q. Not many Bengalis writing about sport are
Very true. I guess I'm lucky that my mum was, and is, pretty
cool about the field I went into. The fact I work for
the BBC does tick a box for those who were so hopeful that I'd become
a .......well, you know which trades.
There are already a few making their way in media too, which
is brilliant. I think parents are becoming more open
to the idea of letting their kids explore less traditional fields
of work - long may that continue.
Q. Any career tips to making it into the world of
If anybody wants to make their way in journalism then I suggest
they offer their services to the local papers.
Build a portfolio of stories. Big media institutions prefer a candidate
with experience more so than one with an
Oxbridge degree. Also, make sure you're not scared of cold-calling
- if you want that scoop, then be prepared to pick
up that phone.
Q. What's life like at the BBC? Is it quite snobby?
I'm into my 11th year now at the BBC so I've encountered a wide-range
of people, of which about 99% were lovely.
Of course, there is snobbery at every place of work, but at
Television Centre most are pretty down-to-earth - the
chattiest are usually the news presenters. Recently, I had a brief
conversation about soup with Zeinab Badawi - it
can be quite a random place. In case you're interested, Badawi is
a fan of pea and mint.
Q. Who have you interviewed? Any memorable
In the world of sport, I've interviewed greats such as Michael
Owen, Alan Shearer, Jurgen Klinsmann, Cathy Freeman,
Venus Williams, Boris Becker, Lewis Hamilton. It's been amazing,
I've also interviewed Zara Phillips twice, at Sports Personality
and Sport Relief. Because she's royalty, there were
moments where my northern accent suddenly turned very RP. It was
also quite unnerving having her entourage
watch your every word.
As mentioned above, I worked on Sport Relief 2010 and had the
chance to 'grill' people in the world of entertainment.
During the filming of a special A Question of Sport, I was asked
to chat to comedian Frank Skinner. Unfortunately,
there was one question I asked that was grammatically incorrect
(basically, conversation-speak) to which he
responded with the rhetorical, "Who are you? Dizzee Rascal?"
Q. Is there anything else you would like to do?
I guess we all have dreams. I want to write a comedy and/or
a drama. I also want to write a book for kids.
Better start typing...
Back to Top
Q. What do you do?
I film and direct for television and independent films. The work
varies a lot - one moment I'm working on 'Police
Camera Action!' on ITV and then a week after I could be filming
a United Nations sponsored documentary on
Northern Uganda. My work generally has a comedy angle to it…although
war crimes in Northern Uganda wasn't
really a laugh a minute…but I like to think there's a certain look
and feel to all my films.
Q. Are there many Bengalis doing what you do?
There's not a big community of Bengali film and TV people but if
you look hard enough you'll find them …can't
name any at the moment but they're out there!
Q. How do you get into it?
I did a lot of student films from the age of 15 to university winning
a few awards and that got me into the National
Film and Television School. From there I worked my way with some
big production companies like LWT (now ITV)
and TWI (now IMG) and just kept going.
Q. Is it easier to stick to one thing in media?
It's easier for your prospective employers in this industry to stick
to one genre or discipline. But I don't do that.
I love working on serious news programmes and then directing a comedy
advert. The variety actually helps in giving
my work a certain look and feel - and you constantly learn more
working on different productions.
Q. What's been the highlights so far?
Making a couple of short comedy films on my own which did really
well at International Film Festivals.
With comedy it's a great feeling to sit in an audience and see the
audience laugh out loud to your film. I remember
one festival in Los Angeles sitting in a Cinema that Quentin Tarantino
just visited called the Arclight on Sunset Boulevard.
It was the first time my film was to be played in the States. Would
the Americans appreciate my humour? They did and
we won Best Short film that year!
Q. Advice for those wanting to get into the
Don't do it! Okay I'm not completely joking. It's an oversubscribed
competitive industry. Good pay isn't guaranteed
and it's filled with some seriously strange people! So if you want
to do it - do it because you the love the journey not
the destination. That might sound like a Disney lyric but the reason
why I'm in this business is because I sincerely think
my comedy work will do some good when it comes to making audiences
think and feel about certain subjects. I've been
in the industry for 10 years and seen a lot of good people drop
out of it because they didn't get opportunities. One of the
reasons I've survived is because I just keep going - whether it's
a dangerous documentary about cops, a promo that needs
to be made impossibly fast or a wedding video I'll say yes just
so they can subsidize my film projects that really motivate
me - and I also just love using a camera!
Q. What's coming up?
Building up my production company called Imotion and working on
bigger and better films. My adverts and promo work is
getting more attention with bigger clients. And getting my first
feature film off the ground is taking longer than expected…
but nearly there…
Back to Top
KAMAL-UDDIN - ARCHITECT
Architect, Samiul Kamal-Uddin, graduated from Bath and Oxford
Brookes University. He moved to London in 2002,
has been working full-time since mainly in the UK, also in USA and
Africa. Also, he's involved in youth mentoring
and is passionate about the young to achieve their potential in
Q. What made you want to pursue Architecture?
I enjoy being creative...Well, I think it started with my passion
for art. I would draw anything as a kid. Also, the
fact that I always had an endless supply of lego to
play with probably fuelled the creative juice.
Luckily, my father was open-minded enough to fuel my interest,
rather then lead me away from it. When I was
12, my father suggested I could be an Architect - he explained it
was someone who had their drawings built.
I think he could see I was not particularly keen on Science or Maths
- and that I was happier with a crayon in my
hand, so he cunningly put the idea in my head so that at least I
would still pursue a 'profession'. I was hooked.
It fascinated me that I could help to change the environment, and
literally leave my mark. I suppose that's what
still gives me a buzz.
Q. So you're handy with a pencil?
I like to think so! Even though you can use 3D programs now,
and the technical info is all produced on CAD, the
first hand sketch can still provide an atmospheric aspiration and
provokes an emotional response that computer
graphics cannot. Basically, I get to show-off in a fraction of the
Q. Is it a long training course to be an architect?
It is roughly, you need a Degree and a Diploma, and need to
get qualified. The whole course is about 7 Years;
though it has a great deal of variety, as you don't just study at
university. Work experience, overseas study visits,
foreign exchanges all form part of the training, so I always found
it fun and challenging.
Q. Architects have big egos don't they?
Some do, especially, the ones with the big black glasses, and
black roll necks. Though that generation of Architects
are phasing out….and I think the recession definitely brought all
Architects down to earth!
Q. Are you building anything interesting?
Well, I'm a lead designer in a team doing a Medical HQ
that has just gone on site near Reading. It's for Stryker Ltd
and they are leaders in the worldwide orthopaedic market. They mainly
design and distribute human joint replacements.
Quite cool - looking at the titanium alloy joints reminds me of
Another project I have going on is regenerating some of the
shops and courtyards Windsor Town centre to make it
more modern and attractive.
I recently finished an office in Leeds for Land Securities with
the company I work at ESA Architects, one of
UK's leading architectural practices - I did all these crazy orange
and red walls that began at the entrance and then
wiggled its way around the space creating the reception desk, meeting
pods, and ultimately becomes a servery/bar
at the end. The client and everyone who use the space really love
it, and said how much they like working there.
That made me happy.
Q. So is it actually rewarding?
For me it definitely is and I do enjoy being an Architect.
Although it can be frustrating that getting a drawing to become
a reality can take so long! Only a small percentage
of what we design actually makes it off the drawing board or computer
screen, as is the case nowadays, so we suffer
from the 'frustrated artist' syndrome.
Q. You're quite passionate about helping
the young people, how did that come about and why?
Outside my busy '9-5' job…I'm involved in setting up a Mentoring
Programme that I heard about through BritBangla.
I work with a number of schools in East London to encourage students
to pursue a more positive future.
I find it rewarding and recommend others to give mentoring a go.
I've already done a talk to parents/ teachers,
and the next task is to set them a project so that they can get
into teams and design a cool building. Maybe a games den.
I got into mentoring to make a direct positive impact on our
society. This relates back to why I pursued Architecture
in the first place, except also I wanted to do something immediate
as buildings take time. Youths are vulnerable to
influences, good and bad, that determine how they will turn out
as adults, and what kind of impact they will have
on society as a whole eventually. I have personal experience with
growing up in the UK, and questions surrounding
identity, career, etc are familiar to me as a British Bengali so
kids can relate to that too.
So being involved in a Mentorship Programme allows me to bring
my experience and helpfully encourage youths to
consider and realise that there's a wide variety of positive options
for them. I know this can make a difference, as
having already done a talk, it was really rewarding for me to have
the parents thank me afterwards which made me
realise that they also appreciate 'stepping out of the box', and
assisting their children to make a better future.
Q Finally…anything you really want
Build a decent space station!
No joke…I read they had Architects involved in building the current
one due to be completed next year, but because
of budget constraints they did not take on board any of the comforts
for the astronauts. They don't even have a hot
shower!. Also, the site visits would be amazing…
Back to Top
- MARKETING & EVENTS MANAGER
Faisal & Governor of Madinah
Naz Kabir, a Marketing
and Events Manager who graduated from Hull University and has spent
his professional career
yo-yoing between Birmingham and London. Currently working on the
global educational initiative, 1001 Inventions,
promoting a thousand years of scientific achievements from the Muslim
Q. Why Marketing?
My goal was to become a gritty warts-and-all documentary producer...but
after I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication
& Media, l had to carve out an alternative career.
Q. So is Marketing easy to get into?
My advice would be train up in CRM (Customer Relations Management),
online and digital forms of Marketing as these are the
growth areas. Traditional marketing is in decline, but I'd like
to think there could be a resurgence soon.
Q. Any memorable moments?
Yes, working for Dr. Gunther von Hagens and his BODY WORLDS
Exhibition. Before you ask, yes he is the weird creepy
looking guy who did the live autopsy series for Channel 4.
Q. What are you working on now?
I've just returned from New York launching the 1001 Inventions Exhibition
in USA. I'm really enjoying working on this
exhibition as it's a mammoth task trying to re-educate the world's
population in the most creative ways possible about
1000 years of missing history during a period now known as 'The
Golden Ages' but known as 'The Dark Ages' by the West.
It's fascinating to learn how Muslim civilization helped
scholars and scientists to build the foundations of the world we
live in today.
Also, working with Sir Ben Kingsley in the creation of the 1001
inventions mini feature film, he hasn't actually
changed much since he played Gandhi in 1982.
Q. So what next for you?
A few exciting projects on the horizon. I'm working on a proposal
to run an international science festival for the Abu Dhabi
government. I'm also involved in the creation of a brand new permanent
museum and arts venue, dedicated to the history
of science and Muslim culture in Ankara, (Turkey) for the Mayor's
Q. You seem to enjoy being in the media limelight?
I don't like to pass up a good opportunity! I've a passion for
passing my time with media related activities and applying for
TV shows. I starred in a music video for Apache Indian - for those
who remember him! Don't laugh, he was cool at the time!
I featured in 'The Face' magazine about young Asians embracing a
progressive modern lifestyle. I was a contestant on
'Bulls Eye', an extra in Coronation Street, Question Time, The Politics
I missed out at the last hurdle after a grueling audition process
to be a participant in the second series of 'The Apprentice' to
Syed Ahmed, the token Asian guy who beat me to it and appeared on
Q. Finally, what's your ultimate goal in life?
Aah, that's easy, to win the lottery or get rich quick somehow,
anyone experienced in bank heists, get in touch, find
a good wife and build an orphanage in Bangladesh. That would make
my life complete!
Back to Top
SUZIA - POLICE CONSTANBLE, LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE SERVICE
Police Constable, Sakira Suzia graduated from University of
Westminster in Psychology and Criminology. A trained army officer,
her highlights include her role in Olympic 2012, an avid marathon
runner, community volunteer and soon to recieve the Metropolitan
Commissioners Award for her bravery.
Q. Tell us about your involvement in the Olympics
I was one of the Olympic Torch Security Escort Runners which
was amazing and a lot of hard work! I was protecting the Olympic
Flame and the 8,000 inspirational Torchbearers for 70 days as the
Olympic Torch Relay travelled across the UK, the Isle of Man, Guernsey
Q. What inspired to go for it?
I come from a sporty and a close-knit family of five sisters
and one brother. My sister Rukiyah was nominated by her school to
be a Torchbearer in 2004 when the Athens Olympic Flame came to London
but I missed out because I had my army training then so this time
I made sure I applied for the Olympics 2012! It was a long process
to be selected but all well worth it as this was a once in a lifetime
opportunity. I loved how the Olympics united the whole world through
sports. The focus was on 'peace, unity and friendship' for a change
rather than war, riots, or other negative press.
Q. Army training?! We'll come back to that…what
training did you do to be on the Olympic Torch Security team?
Alot of running, officer safety training basically how to defend
if someone attacked, tactical training with a torch, rugby tackling,
boxing and circuits. Since 2011, we've been meeting once a month
to ensure that our fitness levels were on track and mentally and
physically prepared to be alert and on our feet from pretty much
4am to midnight for those 70 days with a few short breaks here and
Q. Wow that's extreme…but you run marathons for
breakfast don't you?
(Laughs) I love running and it's great to get paid to run for
a change! I ran my first marathon when I was 21 and have done 3
full marathons since. I run a few half marathons every year, and
have done a lot of army training in my time.
Q. So tell us about your time in the army
- not an occupation where you will find many British Bangladeshis,
least of all women?
Actually, it started as a bit of a joke when I signed up to
the Territorial Army (TA) during freshers' fair at Uni! I passed
the fitness test but was let down by my height (Sakira's a petite
5'1") and light weight - they told me to gain at least a stone
in muscle! I struggled like hell, particularly running with a burgen
bag on my back, but soon got used to it. The army was full of all
the stereotypes you can imagine and I was the 'token Asian girl',
or 'alien', from East London. But during the 3 years that I was
in the TA at Uni, many of those barriers were broken down and I
was accepted for who I was and vice versa, and now have some great
friends around the world.
Q. What made you choose the police force over a
career in the military?
I passed all my exams each year for the TA and gained my degree
in Psychology and Criminology, but decided against Sandhurst and
a military career as war went against my faith in Islam. The police
force suited my academic interests and the active side of me, I
can't sit still all day, and I like to help people in small ways.
I come from a crime ridden part of Tower Hamlets (near Cannon Street
and Shadwell) where the roads are strewn with needles and I was
once threatened with a piece of glass against my throat by a boy
much bigger than me and other similar challenges.
Q. You've been in the London Met for 4 years now.
What would you say is one of your most memorable experiences?
Without a shadow of doubt, the riots in London in August 2011,
was one of the scariest events I have ever experienced. When the
troubles started in Tottenham there weren't enough riot officers,
so I was called in from off duty as I'm also a trained riot officer.
Even though we had protection helmets and plastic shields, it felt
like judgement day, there was fire everywhere. I was the only person
not to get injured as the shield is taller than me at 5'6"!
This year I'll be awarded the Metropolitan Commissioners Award with
about 30 of my colleagues. It's the highest bravery award in the
Met and usually only one or two people receive it a year, but this
year all of us who served during the riots will be recognised.
Q. Congratulations! What an honour…what do your
parents have to say about all of this?
My parents have always encouraged us to follow our dreams, and
in our house, between us all, there's never a dull moment!
Since my job and hobbies are high risk, my parents are often worried
about me, but they also know that I'm sensible and would never do
anything irresponsible or reckless.
Q. You even managed to make time to volunteer to
take your professional knowledge to Bangladesh?
I'm extremely proud of my Bangladeshi heritage and religion.
In 2010, my sister Rukiyah and I travelled to Bangladesh and took
part in BRAC UK's Porishod ('the act of giving back') programme.
It's one of the best things I'v done. I volunteered with
BRAC's (the world's largest international development organisation)
Gender, Justice and Diversity department where I worked on issues
of domestic violence.
I ran workshops for staff on how to interview victims in a sensitive
yet effective manner, this was really well received as previously
the victims were asked the same questions over and over by different
staff members or police etc, which left them more traumatised. Every
village I went to as part of my field work, welcomed me and the
women were shocked and inspired that I was a Police Constable in
the UK. Some of them didn't even believe I was fully Sylheti and
kept touching my hair or skin to see if I was real! They invited
me to go back again, though in a typically Bangladeshi manner, they
told me that next time I should bring a husband!
Back to Top
ZOE RAHMAN - MUSICIAN
Pianist and composer Zoe Rahman is one of the brightest talents
on the jazz scene whose recent album project "Kindred Spirits"
has been nominated for a MOBO Award and whose second album "Melting
Pot" was nominated in 2006 for a Mercury Music Prize. She studied
classical piano at the Royal Academy of Music, music degree from
Oxford and won scholarship to study jazz performance at Berklees
College of Music, Boston. Zoe has toured around the world and is
a featured artist on numerous TV and radio programmes.
Q: How did you fall into the
My parents bought a piano when I was young and
my brother and two sisters started playing it - my parents soon
realised that we were quite musical! I played classical music for
a few years but then discovered jazz when I was a teenager and that's
when I knew that was the music I wanted to play. It took a few years
to get to the point where I was playing jazz professionally - I
did a classical music degree at Oxford University but after that
I went to study in the USA at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
In the last few years I've started delving into my Bengali musical
heritage (my Dad was from Dhaka) and I made an album with my brother,
who plays clarinet, called "Where Rivers
Meet", which is an album of all Bengali melodies. We worked
with singers Arnob and Gaurob on the album and played music by Tagore
and Hemanta Mukherjee among others.
Q: How old where you when you
realised that music was a passion?
I'd played piano from a very young age and played
other instrument like flute and guitar as well as singing in choirs
locally so I was always interested in music. When I was a teenager
and I went to my first jazz gig though I realised that was the kind
of music I really wanted to play and it became an obsession for
me - and still is!
Q: Who were your influences?
I like piano players like Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Joanne
Brackeen as well as many other jazz artists. I love musicians who
have their own style and who push their creativity to the limit.
I used to try and copy my favourite piano players and just listened
to all kinds of music that I liked - eventually I found my own style.
Q: You were nominated for a few
awards now? How important a milestone is this for you?
The Mercury Music Prize was a great turning point
in my career as I was suddenly able to reach a much wider audience
through performing live on TV. My recent MOBO nomination came completely
out of the blue and it's great to have been recognised for playing
the music I really love. People I've told about the MOBO award have
been hugely supportive so I've realised how significant it is. Id'd
be great if everyone can vote for me to win, go to
www.mobo.com/voting the Best Jazz Act before midnight on 30th
Q: How difficult is it to carve a career
in music? An