UAE resident Basheer Silsila’s love of culture matches his love for country - GulfToday

UAE resident Basheer Silsila’s love of culture matches his love for country


A scene from the Malayalam movie Moorcha (Sharpness).

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Basheer Silsila is an all-rounder, in more senses than one. The Dubai-based Keralite has not only been active in the fields of music, acting, filmmaking, art and cultural activities, but has also completed a quarter of a century of life in the UAE.

Besides Silsila, a cultural organisation he founded, Basheer is also the moving force behind organisations such as Mehfil, Tanneer Pandal and Reel Dubai, all founded in the UAE.

He hosts regular mehfils (South Asian gatherings where poetry or classical music is performed for a small audience in an intimate setting), staged at his Jumeirah residence.

Many artists from the field of literature, art and music have participated in Silsila’s mehfils, including ghazal singers such as Dr Muhammad Shakeel, Jitesh Sundaram, Firozbabu, Kochin Ibrahim, Fr Severios Thomas, Saritha Rahman, Raza Begum, Kannur Shareef, Rahna and Edappal Vishwanathan.


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Basheer has played notable roles in numerous short films produced in the Gulf such as Oru Vaappachikadha, Soora, Congo 1959, Moorcha, Sulaimani and Lakshmi.

Music albums composed by him have won the attention of Malayalam music lovers; his first short story book, Mazhacharum Edavazhiyil (The lane where rain falls) which was launched at Sharjah International Book Fair in 2019, won the Kozhikode Aksharam Vedi short story award.

The short film Lakshmi, which was recently released on YouTube, has been hailed for Basheer’s dark acting in the lead role. He is also the producer and music director of Lakshmi.

Basheer Silsila is a versatile artist.

Twenty-five years ago, the former school teacher began his life as a Jebel Ali Racecourse Coordinator. He now works as Jebel Ali Racecourse Event Manager in the office of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Basheer speaks to Gulf Today about his unique career

How did you become attached to the Arts?

I do not have an artistic family background. During primary and high school, I used to sing and won many first prizes at youth festivals.

In college, I joined the music club and was introduced to the guitar: I became extremely attached to it. I became a top guitarist in college.

Post college, I joined popular music clubs  and music troupes such as in Guruvayoor (Nadam), Cochin (Voice of Kochi), Thrissur (Waves) and theatre groups such as Stage India from Kozhikode.

Due to livelihood issues, I had to leave for the Gulf and thus took a break in my music life.

You are a singer, actor, music composer, filmmaker and a host of musical events. Which role do you like most?

Basically, being a guitarist, my first love is for music and I have been composing right from college. After coming to the Gulf, I was part of various art and community associations, where I was lovingly forced by members to take an active part; thus my singing abilities became popular.

I also happened to slip into acting by a similar friendly force used by film director and friend Rijin Gandhi. In a film of his, I followed his direction without even knowing the story or the nature of the character I was playing.

It was only when I viewed the complete film, I realised I had played the main hero in the short film ‘Female 4 Sale’, which at that time received maximum views (one million) in short span of a week’s time on YouTube.

After which, I acted in 15 short films and three feature films in Malayalam, shot both in the UAE and Kerala.

I also became a film producer by chance; a friend of mine and director of the film ‘Oridathoru Postman’, Shaji Aziz, was in Dubai in search of a producer for a film.

He did not find one and felt very sad and hopeless about his project. That instant, I gave him my word to produce the movie for him - though I did not have an idea about how to collect the finance!

Give us some highlights of your career in the Arts.

I have composed melodies and around 60 songs in Malayalam for Rafa Videos, Majeed Cassettes, East Coast videos, Essar Media and Millenium Videos, among others. Except K.J. Yesudas, almost all popular Malayalam playback singers have sung my songs.

According to you, how do Emiratis relate to Indian music such as the ghazal?

I know various Emiratis who love Indian music and Indian films, especially Hindi music. They enjoy ghazals and film music, and love to watch Amir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. There is an elderly Emirati who starts singing Hindi music whenever he sees me!

Have you mentored any singer or musician? If so, what has been the result?

I have mentored a singer named Shakir Sariga from Qatar, who has sung six songs of mine — they are all hits. Recently, he has come to the attention of well-known composer Mohan Sitara; I am really happy that Shakir is being noticed.

Do you think people have the time for the Arts in the UAE, especially in Dubai, with its hectic lifestyle?

People love arts and do spend time for it. The Emirates, being a country of 200 nationalities, enjoys all types of arts and culture. Hence, the UAE host various arts and culture events throughout the year.

What is your message for art lovers residing in the UAE?

The message for art lovers in the UAE, in simple words, is “find your passion and follow it ... and always listen to your heart.”


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