The visiting French President Emmanuel Macron made a visit to the Dhanmondi residence of music artist, lyricist and instrumentalist Rahul Ananda of the popular Bangladeshi musical group 'Joler Gaan' on Sunday night.
Macron was accompanied by the Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud, alongside the French Ambassador to Bangladesh Marie Masdupuy, the French cultural institution Alliance Française de Dhaka (AFD) Director François Grosjean, and other higher officials representing both countries.
The French president made the visit after dinner and stayed there for over one and a half hours. He interacted with Rahul Ananda's family including his wife Urmila Shukla and son Tota, and three other Bangladeshi artists - Ashfika Rahman, Kamruzzaman Swadhin and Afroza Sara.
Apart from listening to Rahul's soulful, homely rendition of Bengali music including songs such as "Ami Banglay Gaan Gai" and a medley of Lalon songs, the French president also explored various musical instruments that Rahul Ananda makes and plays as an instrumentalist.
They also presented gifts to each other. The artist presented an 'Ektara' (a one-stringed Bengali musical instrument) to the French President, saying that this would remind him about this memorable visit, while Macron gifted a pen to Rahul Ananda, suggesting to write poems and songs. The artist shared the picture of the gift on his social media profiles.
Marking this visit, Rahul Ananda alongside his family decorated the entrance of his 140-year-old Dhanmondi residence with flowers. During his short briefing with the media after the French President's historic visit to his home, Rahul Ananda said that it was a brief yet beautiful cultural exchange between two artists, as the French President is also a musician by passion and a music enthusiast.
Informing the media about how the contact was made, the artist said that back in June, a multidisciplinary musical and theatrical performance titled "Made in Bangladesh" was staged at the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, in celebration of World Music Day 2023 - in which he collaborated with Belgian artist Max Vandervorst, and the French president got interested after learning about this performance.
"I feel like and call myself a bird, and I am also an instrumentalist and I make my own instruments, so the tree is a pivotal part in my artistic activism, and I am actively involved in tree plantation across our country. The French president lauded this initiative and he also learned how to play the 'Ektara' I presented to him, and I was surprised to find out that he is a fast learner," Rahul Ananda told the media.
"Through your support, this unimaginable bridge was formed, thus the honourable President of France made a visit to my house - and I tried my best to represent our Bangladeshi culture and heritage in front of him," Rahul Ananda said while expressing his gratitude to the media.
This brief two-day visit of the French President Emanuel Macron became historic since the last official visit by a French President to Bangladesh dates back to 1990.
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