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British Bengali Success Stories

The following profiles are some of the successful British Bengalis who are talented have made significant achievements and contribution in business, politics, arts, music, media, sport, fashion and beauty.

Lisa AZIZ - News Presenter
Sarwar AHMED - Publisher
Sadik Ahmed - Writer/Director
Monica ALI - Author
ALADIN - Magician
Hamja AHSAN - Artist
Jacko Ali - Kickboxer/Promoter
Enam ALI - Businessman/Publisher
Rushnara ALI - Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow
Shahin BADAR - Singer/Songwriter
Shami CHAKRABARTI - Director of the civil rights group Liberty
Tanika GUPTA - Playwright
Ruby HAMMER - Make-up Artist
Enamul HOQUE - Photographer
Shelim HUSSAIN - Entrepreneur/Businessman
Konnie HUQ - TV Presenter

Sanchita ISLAM - Artist/Filmmaker
Tafazzul ISLAM - Football Coach
Sandra KABIR - Director of BRAC UK
Akram KHAN - Artist/Performer
Sapnara KHATUN - Barrister / Judge
Tommy MIAH - Entrepreneur/Celebrity Chef
Zoe RAHMAN - Mucisian
Mary RAHMAN - Publicist
Ash RAHMAN - Football Academy Director

Toffael RASHID - Global Brand Director
Pasha RAZZO - Fashion Designer
Jon SEN - Director/Writer
Joi: Farook SHAMSER - Musician/Music Producer
Osmani Soundz - DJ/Producer
Sam Zaman - DJ group/Music Producers
Shelley SILAS - Author/Writer
Anwar UDDIN - Professional Footballer
Baroness Pola Manzila UDDIN - Labour Peer
Dr Wali Tasar Uddin, MBE - Business Entrepreneur

Iqbal WAHHAB - Entrepreneur/Author
Deedar Zaman - Musician

News Presenter

Lisa Aziz has won an award from the Asian business community and in 2004 won an 'Emma' for Best Television News Journalist. She has also been nominated for Personality of the Year by the Royal Television Society.

Voted Presenter of the Year, Lisa Aziz won the 1992/93 'Presenter of the Year' T.R.I.C. Award. and 1989 she received both the 'Asian of the Year' Award from the Asian community, and the 'Achievement Award' from the Asian business community. Lisa Aziz is best known as one of the main anchors on Sky News. She presented Big Talk on BBC2, an eleven part series of half hour interviews with heavyweights from the world of politics, current affairs and business as well as East, also on BBC2 on issues related to the Asian community. She also works regularly as one of the main presenters for Channel East, fronting their Everywoman programme. At the end of 1999, she co-hosted the prestigious Asia Awards on BBC2 and in 2000 she presented the EMMA Awards for Carlton (The Ethnic Multicultural Media Awards). Lisa Aziz had her first broadcasting experience while studying at London University for a BA (Hons) in Art History and Religious Studies. She made two very successful appearances on LBC and, after completing her degree course, she joined Radio City in Liverpool.Lisa’s television career began a year later when she moved to Bristol, working with BBC Television West on their local magazine programme. In 1985, she moved to HTV West as a news reporter/presenter on their nightly news programme. Two years later, Lisa began co-presenting HTV’s award-winning current affairs programme The West This Week.In 1988, Lisa moved to TV-am, starting as a reporter and moving to co-present the Sunday morning current affairs programme, before becoming the main daily news presenter in 1989. Her last two years with the station saw Lisa spread her wings even further, with travel feature reports and news reports of the cyclone that hit Bangladesh. This various list of duties culminated in Lisa winning the 1992/93 "Presenter of the Year" TRIC Award, adding to her 1989 "Asian of the Year" Award from the Asian community and the "Achievement Award" from the Asian business community she received during the same year.After TV-am’s demise, Lisa worked for BBC World Service Television and presented Financial Times Business Daily for NBC Superchannel before joining Sky News. She presented the weekend editions of Live at Five and Sky News at Ten. Lisa has presented on Sky News for ten years.

She returned to the West Country in 2005, and has since been one of the main presenters of the ITV West main news programme The West Tonight. Lisa Aziz is currently the co-presenter of the Bristol based ITV West nightly weekday news programme The West Tonight. From 16 February 2009, she will become a presenter of the pan-regional news programme The West Country Tonight, on ITV South West. She now lives in Bath and has two children, a daughter and a son. She is hugely popular and experienced as a corporate presenter and host for numerous blue-chip companies.

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Sarwar AHMED

Sarwar Ahmed is one of the main players in the Asian media explosion. A young entrepreneur with a passion for newspapers. Sarwar Ahmed founded Eastern Eye in 1989 and was the Managing Director of Smart Asian Media Limited. He was formerly Publisher of Ethnic Media Group (EMG), a subsidiary of Southnews plc.

In 1989 an 18-year-old from east London spotted a gap in the market. Mainstream newspapers had traditionally ignored ethnic minorities while community newspapers were dominated by news from 'back home'. So Sarwar Ahmed, whose father is a Bengali journalist, launched Eastern Eye, a tabloid targeted at second-generation Asians, which has become the fastest-growing Asian newspaper in Britain. He became editor-in-chief of four newspapers, having bought the Asian Times, Caribbean Times and New Nation, then sold up to launch Smart Asian Media, publishers of Asian Woman magazine, Asian Bride and Asian Xpress newspaper. He was the publisher for Asian Xpress Asian Rich List.

This year he was appointed to The Newspapers Panel of the Competition Commission.
Recently sold Smart Asian Media and has launched new magazine a called Asiana for Asian women.

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Writer/Director Sadik Ahmed is a British Filmmaker of Bangladeshi originbased in the UK. He completed his undergraduate in Painting and Photography from the London College of Printing, and Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design; and then completed his MA in Cinematography from the prestigious National Film and Television School (NFTS). While at the NFTS, Sadik was awarded 2 Kodak prizes for Cinematography.

Sadik’s film Tanju Miah, a short film about a young tea boy living on the Sarail Road, was an international success with awards from the Royal Television Society, the Grierson Foundation for British Film (Finalist), Turner ClassicShorts (Finalist), MySpace-Mymovie Mash-Up (Finalist). Tanju Miah was specifically selected for screening at the Toronto International Film Festival2005. The film was also the first ever Bangladeshi film in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007. Tanju Miah was screened in the Curzon Cinemas UK, March to April 2007. The Last Thakur is Sadik’s first feature film. It will be premiere at The LondonFilm Festival in October 2008.

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Hamja Ahsan (b.1981) is an artist and independent curator of the Bengali-Islamic diaspora, based in London.

Ahsan's practice ecncompasses the entire span of media: drawing, sound, painting, appropriated text work, sculpture, photography, performance, video, directing exhibitions and critical writing. His thematic concerns as an artist revolves around post-colonial history, diaspora politics, indexing time, the prison system and new formations of Imperialism.

He has previously presented projects at Tate Britain, The Guild Gallery (New York), Deptford X, Shanaakht Festival (Pakistan), Shiplakala Academy (Bangladesh) and across artist-run spaces. He is the co-ordinator of Other Asias - an artists-run organisation of 10 interweaving curatorial currents, exploring national and regional representation. He is the co-curator with Fatima Hussain of the REDO Pakistan project - a nomadic art project that circulates through the UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

He is currently working on a collaborative archival project with the jazz musician Zoe Rahman, exploring Bangladeshi nationhood as performative identity. His recent work included producing video installation as commissioned media artist for Bangladesh Indepencence Day and performative art writing around Other Asias keywords lexicon for Resonance FM. Hamja is a Chelsea (MA Critical Writing & Curatorial Practice) and Central St Martins (BA Fine Art) alumnus.

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Monica ALI

Born in Bangladesh and moved to UK during the civil war in Bangladesh (formly known as East Pakistan). Monica was raised in Bolton. She studied at Oxford University.

Monica Ali has been identified as one of Britain’s best young novelist by influential literary magazine Granta. The successful writer of Brick Lane, Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists and was shortlisted for the Booker and Whitbread Prizes. Brick Lane is one of the 2004's literary sensations and is described as an intimate epic set in the contemporary Asian community in the East End's once infamous, now celebrated 'Banglatown'.

She was shortlisted for the National Critics Circle awards in America and the Orange Prize for women's fictions.

Click to read Guardian Article

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Aladin is a widely admired and award-winning international magician. His astounding, widely admired magic resonates across the world. Entirely self-taught, Aladin is one of only two Golden Turban members of the Magic Academy of Bangalore, India, guardians of the world's oldest magic tradition. He is also a former International Magician of the Year and has been a Selected Artist at the National Review of Live Arts U.K.

Famed for his eerie mastery of objects - which disappear and reappear with a mesmerizing liquidity in his hands - and his extraordinary ability to read the hearts and minds of others, Aladin exudes mystery and animation matched only by his vast reserve of natural human warmth. Unfolding impromptu mini-worlds of impossible happenings decorated with secrets, experiments of the mind and unanswerable questions as he goes, Aladin has delighted, mystified and raised the hairs of thousands.

Aladin's ventures in entertainment include being commissioned by private clients in Las Vegas and Monte Carlo as well as in London (Hurlingham Club, Sanderson Hotel, Peacock House etc.), opening onstage for artists ranging from Paul Weller to Mark E. Smith, and as Master of Ceremonies and co-organiser of the world's biggest magic event (800 magicians from around the world converging on the city of Bangalore). Several British and international television channels have projects currently in development involving aladin as a principal.

Aladin was born in Washington DC and has lived in Geneva, Paris, Prague, Baghdad, Algiers, Calcutta, Delhi, Lahore, Karachi and London.

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Jacko Ali

Ali Jacko was born in 1969, of Bangladeshi descent and raised in the East End of London. A World Champion Kickboxer who now runs JKO Productions which promotes kickboxing on Sky Sports and Channel 5.

With his determination to pursue his ambitions he has successfully become a World Kickboxing Champion, who would travel the globe and gain a fanatical multi-ethnic following. This determination was in evidence from an early age, where he excelled at sport, playing Junior League football and becoming the BMX Freestyle Schoolboy champion. At the age of 17 he was already running his own fashion design and manufacturing business, but it was his dynamic sport of kickboxing that was to give him the gateway to the popularity and esteem he enjoys today.

From his humble beginnings, Ali Jacko became the first Asian to win British, European, Inter-Continental, and Work Full-Contact Kickboxing championships in a 45 fight unbeaten career, with his World title fight at ‘The Island’ in Ilford on 25th May 1996 proving to be one of the most spectacular shows in British Kickboxing history, with the Bollywood superstar Salman Khan travelling from India to support his friend. From winning his first B.I.K.M.A British title 1990, Ali capped his remarkable career by taking his second World title, this time WKN belt, in June 2000, but before he retires from fighting he still has one great ambition and that is to fight for a World Title in Bangladesh.

Ali’s achievements have not gone unnoticed in the local community, where his fame has been used to good effect to foster racial harmony, and alongside an award given to him by Tower Hamlets Council, Jacko has also won the Canary Wharf Sporting Personality Award 2001 and won the UK Asian Sporting Award in 2003. Ali has a fan base from all communities, especially among the younger generation, where he is perceived as a cultural hero.

JKO TV was launched in July 1997 and is dedicated to producing and providing high quality programmes for terrestrial, satellite and corporate clients. The company was established on the basis of a core contract to launch and produce weekly programming for a business motivational private satellite channel broadcast across Europe and South Africa in eight languages. The Channel won first place in the Audio Visual Magazine award for "The Best Use of Business Television" category. JKO TV has been filming for all the Thai and Kickboxing for the last two years on SKY Sports and Channel 5.

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Enam ALI

Enam Ali is one of the most prominent Asian personalities in the UK. Known for his leadership and passionate concern for the interests of the restaurant industry and of British Bangladeshis, he is frequently to be seen and heard in the UK's print and TV media acting as a spokesman for his business sector and as an unofficial ambassador for the country of his birth.

For 20 years, the special cuisine and friendly atmosphere at his award-winning restaurant, Le Raj, situated in Epsom, Surrey, on the outskirts of London, has attracted politicians, show-business celebrities and media personalities and has gained him their friendship, recognition and support.
A restaurateur's life is about service and that theme continues whenever he represents the UK's successful 'ethnic' restaurant sector in matters relating to regulation and parliamentary legislation. He serves on the Home Office Hospitality advisory panel and this year he has been lobbying at the House of Lords to ensure fairness in the UK government's treatment of legitimate migrant workers. Membership of the Portcullis Club also gives him social contact with many of the Members of Parliament who initiate and shape the laws of the land.

It was not widely known that the vast majority of the UK's 'Indian' restaurants were actually owned and run by people of Bangladeshi origin. Enam recognised the need to build a stronger international identity for his home country to ensure that Bangladeshis were correctly credited for their innovative approach and resourcefulness. In 1992 Enam launched the Dine Bangladeshi initiative, encouraging Bangladeshi restaurant owners across Britain to take pride in their heritage by displaying the country's flag with the distinctive 'Dine Bangladeshi' logo.

The operation was successful in raising awareness and beginning to change the UK public's perception of Bangladesh. Enam recalls: "Within a few months, the campaign gained huge media coverage. Some restaurant owners even changed the 'Indian' name of their restaurant to Bangladeshi and started to include traditional Bengali dishes on the menu. Most importantly the UK's public began to replace the false impression of Bangladesh and its people as a burden when they saw the significant contribution we are making to the their lifestyle and economy."

While seeking backing from fellow restaurateurs, Enam recognised the need for a formal support network for Bangladeshis in the UK so that Bangladeshi-owned restaurants were well represented and warranted a voice at decision-making level. As a result, in November 1995, the co-ordinators of the Dine Bangladeshi campaign officially launched the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, enabling the media to publicise an industry concerned to maintain the very highest standards while promoting Bangladeshi cuisine to the British public.

Taking a step further in this direction seemed logical to Enam and, in 1998 he launched 'Spice Business', a top quality quarterly trade magazine featuring articles in English and Bengali, combining up-to-the-minute information on the restaurant sector and community news. Today it boasts a quarterly readership of over 100,000 and, as Enam points out, "Spice Business magazine has succeeded in opening new channels of communication for the Asian restaurant community to give our needs the authority they deserve."

In 2005, his ability to create success was applied to the launch of the British Curry Awards with the intention of generating positive publicity for the best in local curry restaurants throughout the UK. Much hard work was finally rewarded when the spectacular awards ceremony took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Central London and the winners were announced. Winning restaurants throughout the UK gained much local publicity and the event helped raise the profile of this sector on a national, and international level as well.

Despite the heavy demands on his time, Enam manages to balance work, community and family life. He is married, with two sons and a daughter, and they are a constant source of support and pleasure. The many participants in the business he leads are also treated like family members, and this extended family appreciates and benefits from the leadership he gives them.

Through Le Raj, his Epsom restaurant Enam Ali has raised over £670,000 in charitable donations and is presently the only Asian restaurateurs to have been awarded the prestigious fellowship of the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs - an international society devoted to the highest standards of cuisine, and the quality of the dining experience which surrounds it.

As an exemplary leader in his field, Enam Ali has been instrumental in giving British Bangladeshis a much stronger identity and far greater respect within the United Kingdom. He has also helped create greater awareness of the achievement of those in the Bangladeshi restaurant industry.

He is the Publisher/Editor of Spice Business Magazine with a circulation of over 10,000 in UK. Also, the founder and organizer - The British Curry Awards

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Rushanra ALI
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow

Rushanara Ali grew up in Tower Hamlets, studied at Mulberry School and Tower Hamlets College. She is currently an Associate Director of the Young Foundation and head of research, external relations and international projects. She has previously worked at Home Office's Communities Directorate, leading a project in response to the 2001 riots in the North of England. She has also worked on human rights issues at various places. Rushanara also worked for Michael Young on a project, which paved the way for Tower Hamlets Summer University that has been successfully replicated around London. She is a Commissioner for the London Child Poverty Commission, Chair of Tower Hamlets Summer University and SummerUni London, a Board Member of Tower Hamlets College, a Trustee of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and a member of the Tate Britain Council. She was a member of the Home Office Working Group on Preventing Extremism established after the 7/7 London bombings. Rushanara has a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University. In April 2007, she was selected as the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow.

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Shahin BADAR

Born in Colchester to parents of Indo-Pakistan descent Shahin's father is Bengali. Shahin spent her formative years growing up in Kuwait in the United Arab Emirates. From a tender age she showed a naturally talented musical vocals inspired by her mother Zohra Ahmed. Shahin decided to turn her talents towards music. She sang in Arabic all the time and was encouraged by teachers in Kuwait to sing in Arabic during school assemblies. She won several talent competitions. She returned to England to continue her schooling at Gilbert Grammer School. Upon leaving she took up a respectable position in Customs and Excise. She soon began performing at various shows in London and started making demos before releasing Jind Mariye which she contributed to and was produced by Taz from Stereo Nation. The single hit the No.4 spot in the Bhangra charts. The popularity of Jind mariye got Shahin noticed and approached by British music producer Kuljit Bhamra who helped her make her debut solo album Destiny. Destiny had a mellow flavour with distinct Arabic influences; a sound that has now become Shahin's trademark. Bollywood beckoned and much to her pleasure India's leading composer A.R Rahman recorded with Shahin utilising her vocal work in Shyam Benegal's film Zubbeidaa.

She has been shortlisted, nominated or won awards for her achievements as the Best Female Vocalist Winner for Asian Pop Awards 2000, twice short-listed for Asian Women of Achievement Awards and received a finalist nomination for the equally noted Ethnic Multi Cultural Media Awards. She is one of the UK based female South Asian front runners of innovative musical collaborations with her blend of powerful Arabic/Indian vocal resonance in music in its various genres. To add to this she has worked with respected mainstream and Asian musician’s producers such as Prodigy, A.R Rahman, Jah Wobble, Doug Laurent, Miss Shiva, Justin Scharnova etc as well as up and coming stars. Her vocal work profile credits are included in the soundtrack to several successful major feature films. Hollywood/Bollywood movies include: The Incredible Hulk (Universal Pictures / Hollywood), The remake of the 70s classic Charlie’s Angel (Columbia Pictures/Hollywood), Zubeidaa (Background score;India), Scary Movie 2 and Dhai Akshar Prem Ke (Bollywood) Starring Ashwayarai.

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Neil Biswas the young successful writer of the Channel 4 drama Second Generation who grew up in the Bengali community in East London.

Second Generation an explosive two-part drama about love, family and identity – set around the tangled relationships of two Indian families with a deep-rooted, shared history. It's a vivid romance that travels from Brick Lane to Bollywood, set to the soundtrack of the UK Asian underground music scene.

He's a talented individual whose stageplays include Crash (Croydon Warehouse), Skirmishes (Etcetera), Overhear (National Tour – Leicester Haymarket, Bristol New Vic, Brixton Shaw) and Skin (Soho Theatre Company). He has also written for BBC Radio Four, The Royal Court YPT, English National Opera and Tara Arts. Neil has recently finished co-writing Talkback Productions' major 10-part adaptation of In a Land of Plenty that was screened on BBC2 in the year 2000. He is now working on a new series for Oxford Films and Channel Four.

Click to read Guardian Article

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Director of the civil rights group Liberty

Born in London of Indian parents, Shami Chakrabarti, read law at the LSE before practising briefly as a barrister and then joining the Home Office's legal department in 1996. She worked under Michael Howard, who, as Conservative home secretary, was reviled by civil rights campaigners. She worked on the 1996 Asylum Bill which, she noted, was considered "draconian" at the time. Ms Chakrabarti, a mother of a one-year-old boy, said that she would like to try to restore the great British liberal consensus which existed when she was growing up and which has been undermined in the past 10 years. She would work to reverse the Government's increasingly authoritarian approach to social issues. She also intends to oppose repressive measures taken in the name of "the war against terrorism".

Shami Chakrabarti commenced as Director of Liberty in September 2003. Having originally joined Liberty in 2001 as In-house Counsel, Shami has worked on a number of Liberty's high profile cases and has become a recognised expert on the UK's anti-terrorism laws. Shami also assisted with Liberty's campaigning work by contributing to the development of policy and strategy and regularly appearing as Liberty spokesperson on a wide range of issues.

Shami trained at the Public and Common Law Bar before joining the Home Office Legal Adviser's Branch in 1996. During five and a half years in Government, Shami advised Ministers in Labour and Conservative Governments on a range of sensitive policy issues, worked on the passage of 12 Parliamentary Bills and was one of the Home Office officials responsible for the implementation of the Human Rights Act. She also acted in a number of high profile cases in both the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

More broadly, Shami is an active member of Britain's human rights and public law community. She is an Executive Governor of the British Institute of Human Rights, an Executive Committee Member of the Administrative Law Bar Association and Editorial Board Member of the European Human Rights Law Review. She has published numerous pieces on civil liberties issues for a number of practitioner and other journals.

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Tanika GUPTA

Tanika Gupta the award-winning playwright whose work has been staged at the best venues in London and beyond. She is a bilingual British Bengali and a professional at the top of her game. She won the Asian Women Achievement Award for arts and culture at the venue that took place at the Hilton.

Her adaptation of Hobson's Choice - set in an Asian tailor's shop owned by Hari Hobson - recently opened at the Young Vic, one of London's hottest venues, and in the past 12 months her play Sanctuary was staged at the National, Inside Out toured for Clean Break and Fragile Land opened the new Hampstead theatre's education space.

The BBC asked her to write for Grange Hill. In 2000 The Waiting Room was a career highpoint, enjoyed by blue-rinses as well as by Asian audiences

Tanika Gupta was born in Chiswick and grew up in an arty environment. As a child, Tanika performed Tagore dance dramas with her parents’. Her mother was an Indian classically trained dancer and her father a singer. She says "They were into Bengali literature and Rabindranath Tagore. They met and fell in love at Tagore's ashram at Santiniketan. The artistic side of things was bred into me - I didn't even notice it. “ She went to Oxford University and read modern history. After Oxford, her political commitment found expression in her work for an Asian women's refuge in Manchester. After marriage in 1988, the couple moved to London and Gupta was a community worker in Islington, writing in her spare time.

Her first play, Voices on the Wind, was developed by Talawa and the National Theatre Studio and based on an extraordinary incident in her family history. "In 1930, Dinesh Gupta, my grandfather's brother, was hanged by the British. He was only 19." A Bengal Youth Volunteer, Dinesh had been part of a suicide squad which assassinated the British inspector general of prisons. But while his comrades killed themselves, he botched it, was healed and then executed. "In prison he wrote all these beautifully eloquent letters to his family, which I was given and used as the basis of Voices on the Wind. My family is very proud of him and now a road in Calcutta is named after him."
She also points out that although our image of the struggle for Indian independence is dominated by Gandhi and peaceful protest, "there were also a huge number of revolutionaries who used violence - and the British used violence and torture to suppress them".

Tanika Gupta’s previous plays include Gladiator Games, Sanctuary, Hobson’s Choice and Fragile Land. Her current play is called Sugar Mummies playing at Royal Court Theatre.

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Make-up Artist

Ruby Hammer is a world-renowned fashion and beauty make-up artist. Her work and has been featured in some of the most influential fashion publications as well as on the runways of John Galliano and Ghost. Ruby Hammer, one of Britain’s most successful make-up artists, teamed up with beauty publicist Millie Kendall to create Ruby & Millie cosmetics, one of the most innovative brands to be launched in the international beauty arena. Ruby Hammer and Millie Kendall are responsible for the first major UK cosmetics brand to launch in 30 years. Make up artist to the stars, Ruby Hammer, and beauty virtuoso Millie Kendall, are presenting their own ultra glamorous TV show for Discovery.

Born in Nigeria to Bangladeshi parents, she emigrated to Britain when she was 13. Her parents intended to return to Bangladesh, it was East Pakistan then, but war broke out there while they were on holiday in England. She gained her Economics degree from City University and her wealth of expertise in the beauty industry led her to be an internationally acclaimed make-up artist.

Ruby Hammer has created looks for the world's top photographers and most influential designers, including John Galliano, Jasper Conran and Ghost, and worked on photo shoots for magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Red, Harpers and Queen and Marie Claire. Ruby is regularly quoted as an expert on trends, beauty tips and advice. She has appeared on numerous television shows and worked on many advertising campaigns and television commercials.

At the launch of the British Asian Fashion Awards held at the Clothes Show in December 2002, Ruby Hammer received a special presentation of the very first Award. The Outstanding Individuals Award, which pays tribute to an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the British Asian or mainstream fashion industry, recognised the leading make-up artist and co-founder of cosmetics brand Ruby & Millie, for the distinct role she has carved for herself in the fashion and beauty industry over the past ten years.

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Enamul HOQUE

Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1968. Enamul Hoque is a professional photographer and filmmaker based in London. Born the youngest of a large emigrant family, he grew up in both the UK and Bangladesh, eventually settling in London. He has been a professional photographer since 1989 and has worked on numerous campaigns for Kodak, General Motors, Virgin and Sony Playstation among others. His photographic work has been featured in various international magazines and exhibitions.

Enamul is a partner in Underbelly Film and has been making and producing films since 2003. His short films have been screened in museums and galleries all over the world and recent projects include films for Iqons TV, Kei Kagami, YKK, and Nike.

Web: /

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Shelim Hussain is an entrepreneur and started his business 12 years ago at the age of 18 while working part-time as a waiter and studying at college for his A’Levels. He saw an opportunity in the market for prawn supply and started off by selling a few boxes of frozen prawns with his friend, delivering them at night while continuing with his education during the day. Shelim Hussain started the business with an initial capital of only £20. The annual turnover for his business is around £40 million.

He formed Eurofoods (UK) in 1993 and the company has grown rapidly since. He employs over 200 staff and has food processing units in Newport, South Wales and in Croydoon. He also has a new plant and four factories in Bangladesh, and has started a subsidiary in New York. He also has invested in property development business in Wales. At present he is Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of the following companies: Euro Foods (UK) Ltd, S & B Developments Ltd, SRS Poultry Ltd (commencing late 2003), Eurasia Food Processing (BD) Ltd (Bangladesh), Euro, Linen Service (UK) Ltd, Horizon Seafood Ltd, Saidowla Enterprise and Euro Foods (BD) Ltd.

He has won the Eastern Eye Young Achiever Award that was presented by The Prince of Wales and was nominated for Young Achiever at the Asian Jewel Awards 2003.

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Konnie HUQ
TV Presenter

Born to Bangladeshi parents, Konnie Huq is the well-known presenter of “Blue Peter”. Konnie graduated from Cambridge University. Konnie is best known for presenting this long running British Children's magazine show "Blue Peter", however she was presenting the satellite show “TVFM” in 1991 (at the age of 16) and from there went on to appear in a number of Children Television programmes. She joined Blue Peter in December 1997 and kept herself the coveted role of Blue Peter presenter for seven years (so far), and also was a presenter on the CBBC Top 40 show and Top of the Pops. Konnie was presenting Channel Five's MILKSHAKE morning shift before moving to the BBC. She also interviewed Neil Kinnock for NEWSROUND when she was about 14.
She was nominated for a presenter award at the British Academy Children's Film and Television Awards, in association with the Lego Company, on 24th November 2002.

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Sanchita ISLAM

Born in Manchester to Bangladeshi parents. Sanchita Islam is an artist, writer and filmmaker. She studied at the London School of Economics, the Northern Media School and Chelsea School of Art and Design. She heads Pigment Explosion, a company that specialises in live art and international art projects.

She has exhibited in London, New York, Paris and Bangladesh and made films in New York, Bangladesh, Malaysia and London for the British Council, Arts Council and Commonwealth Institute. Her writing and art work have been published in New York, Paris and London.

‘From Briarwood to Barishal to Brick Lane’ was her first publication and ‘Old Meets Young’ funded by the Arts Council, is her second and recently she published her third book “Hidden".

Sanchita Islam lives and works in London.

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Tafazzul ISLAM
Pro Touch Soccer Academy

Head of Coaching Programmes & Mentor. Taff started his journey in football at a very young age; and knew almost straight a way that he wanted to be a professional footballer. He represented various local Sunday League teams, his school and his district before being selected to play for his country. His skills, determination and belief landed him with a schoolboy contact with Queen’s Park Rangers and later Luton Town FC.

With a clinical eye for goal he was soon making a name for himself within the sport, which resulted in him being snapped up by his boyhood team Arsenal in September 1996. While playing and training with the Gunners’ Youth Academy, he was one of ten boys selected to attend Highams Park School, a specialised program designed by Arsenal in a bid to combine player’s education with training. The likes of David Bentley (Tottenham Hotspur and England), Justin Hoyte (Middlesbrough), John Spicer and Ryan Smith were just a few of the names that were involved in this elite development program.

Taff has also been guided by some of the games great players and coaches, including Neil Banfield, Liam Brady, Andy McDermid and former England coach Don Howe. Taff continued to develop and gain a vast knowledge of the professional game, representing Arsenal at academy, youth and reserves level. During his time at the club he competed in a series of prestigious tournaments across Europe, playing against the likes of FC Bayern Munich, Ajax, Lyon and PSV Eindhoven.

Feeling the harsh hand of the beautiful game, Taff was released by Arsenal at end of the 2003 season. He went on to play in America, before returning to the UK to have trials with Bristol City and Rusden and Diamonds. He opted to sign for Gravesend and Northfleet FC, now known as Ebbsfleet, who play in the Blue Square Premier League. Taff has continued to play at semi-professional level.

Taff has completed his FA Level Three UEFA ‘B’ Coaching Certificate with the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and is currently working towards completing his UEFA ‘A’ License. He has also completed his training for the Youth Coaches Award, which is designed for coaches working with elite players within the Professional Academies set-up.

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Sandra M KABIR
Executive Director, BRAC UK

Sandra Kabir has worked in development since 1976 with donor agencies, international and national NGOs. She has worked predominantly in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights and women's development and rights. She was awarded the international STIMEZO Prize in 1988 for her contribution to making abortion safe worldwide. Sandra established the Bangladesh Women's Health Coalition in 1979 and played a major role in the creation of EL TALLER (a global NGO movement), among other achievements. Sandra was an elected Councillor of the London Borough of Brent till May 2006.

Since January 2006, she is the Executive Director of BRAC UK and Secretary to the Board.

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Akram KHAN

Akram Khan trained in the classical Indian dance form of Kathak from a very young age. At the age of 14, he performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of the Mahabharata for two years, which took him to many cities including Paris, Tokyo, Adelaide, New York, Los Angeles and Perth. He has gained two degrees in Contemporary Dance, and Performing Arts, and performed all over the UK as well as India.

In 2000, Khan formed the Akram Khan Dance Company after he returned from his training in Brussels. His first full-length work Kaash, a collaboration with Anish Kapoor and Nitin Sawnhey, was performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002. The company is currently produced by Farooq Choudry. In the last five years it has established itself as one of the leading young dance groups in the world.

His list of performances and productions include two collaborations with Nitin Sawhney, first time in 2000 on the solo performance ‘Fix’ and in 2002 on ‘Kaash’ that was performed at the Edinburgh Festival.

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Sapnara KHATUN

Sapnara Khatun. She read law at the LSE and was called to the Bar and has been in practice since 1990. Appointed as Judge – Recorder of the Crown in 2006. In 2003 she was appointed to the government’s Family Justice Council to advise on all aspects of family justice system. She has also advised on and drafted the new Forced Marriage Act and plays an active role in the boards of many voluntary and charitable organisations.

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Tommy MIAH
Entrepreneur/Celebrity Chef

Tommy Miah, 44, left Bangladesh for Britain as a child of 10 without a word of English. He is now one of the most successful Bengali businessmen and a celebrity chef in UK.

After moving to Edinburgh from Birmingham he started a successful Indian restaurant business and runs an Indian-theme hotel in the city called The Original Raj Hotel. His Raj Restaurant in Edinburgh, colonial-style decor introduced by chef-proprietor Tommy Miah when he opened the restaurant in 1981, is set in a listed building and is designed to feel like you are stepping back in time to late 19th century India. The Raj Restaurant in Edinburgh is the first Indian restaurateur to be honoured by Britain's Seafish Authority with its "Pride in Seafood" award. Iain MacSween, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Organisation, presented the prestigious award at a ceremony in Tommy's restaurant. The award recognises Tommy's pioneering work in promoting Haddock as a prime item on Indian restaurant menus.
Tommy Miah is a canny businessman whose International Chef of the Year competition attracts the world's top Asian chefs. Edinburgh businessman Tommy Miah started the annual "International Indian Chef of the Year" competition in 1991 to promote innovation and quality in Indian cooking. The first competition was launched by Edwina Currie and finalists were chosen from 400 entrants for a three-hour cook-out at Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, in February 1992. Entries have risen steadily each year, reaching around 5,000 in 2001-2. Entry is free and the worldwide competition is the only one open equally to all amateur or professional cooks. The winner is announced at a Curry Ball in Edinburgh.

He recently opened a restaurant in Dhaka showcasing his innovative "Bangla fusion" cuisine that has become a big hit with diners. The Bangladeshi-born celebrity chef Tommy Miah cooked hundreds of kilograms of lentils and meat in Dhaka in a bid to win entry into the Guinness Book of Records for preparing the largest-ever meal.

He has been appointed as Chairman of Palma Apparel (UK). Palma Group has its headquarters in Bangladesh, Tommy will be representing the UK office. Palma Group is an apparel/clothing export/import company.

In 2004 Tommy Miah was elected a Fellow of Britain's prestigious Royal Society of Arts. The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce was founded in 1754 to further the develeopment of a principled and prosperous world.

Tommy Miah has supported and worked with many charities in UK and Bangladesh. He is currently working on collating a recipe book for Water Aid.

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Zoe Rahman is a British jazz composer and pianist. Born in Chichester, UK, Zoe Rahman studied music at Oxford University and jazz performance at Berklee College of Music, Boston. Her father, Mizan Rahman, is Bangladeshi and her mother is British.

In 1999 she won the 'Perrier Young Jazz Musician of the Year' Award. Her debut trio album, “The Cynic” was short-listed for the BBC Radio 3 jazz album of the year review in 2001. She was then nominated in the “Rising Star” category of the 2001 BBC Jazz Awards. Her 2nd album "Melting Pot" was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize and was voted 'Jazz Album of the Year' at the 2006 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. In July 2008, Zoe has been nominated for the Mercury Prize, Britain’s top music award.

Zoe Rahman, one of the brightest stars on the contemporary jazz scene, has just released her new album, “Where Rivers Meet”, which is the follow up to her Mercury Music Prize nominated ‘Melting Pot’ album. An exceptional composer in her own right, this new album sees Zoe collaborate with her brother, clarinettist Idris Rahman, on some unique, jazz-inspired interpretations of Bengali music, including the songs of Rabindranath Tagore, Abbasuddin and Hemanta Kumar Mukherjee, among others.

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Pro Touch Soccer Academy - Academy Director

At the age of just 18-years-old, Ash set his sights on tackling the lack of opportunity available for gifted young footballers to make an impact within the professional game.
He came up with an idea of launching a school of excellence, a centre where the most promising players could fine tune their talents and achieve a better understanding of the game. He also planned to help put the players who were good enough on a pedestal, giving scouts and coaches from professional clubs the chance to see their talents.

After seven years of hard work developing a structure, recruiting the right team and finding sponsorship, the Pro Touch Soccer Academy was born. Speaking on what is without doubt his greatest ever achievement, Ash said: "Coaching and guidance are vital in helping young footballers make it within the professional game. "I've always wanted to play a part in helping footballers who are good enough get that chance to prove themselves. That is the sole aim of the Pro Touch Soccer Academy."

With the exception of a brief trial at Leyton Orient, Ash never played professional football and was never really given the chance to prove just how good a player he was. Staying close to the game, he turned his attentions towards coaching and managing, taking over the reins at King's Cross United with close friend Will Cave. Since then he has gone on to accomplish numerous goals within the sport, coaching a host of successful men’s and women’s teams from across London. Among his successes include leading King's Cross Lithgow to a host of top honours around the country, including the prestigious Canary Cup in 2000. He has also successfully pitted his wits against some of the best young managers from across Europe, securing a hat-trick of bronze medals at the Dana Cup, which was held in Denmark.

During the 1990s Ash coached and assisted some of the most gifted and talented young prospects that Camden and Islington had to offer. They included Abdul Koysor, who enjoyed spells at Leyton Orient and Charlton Athletic, Leon Fisher, who played for Watford and England under-17s, and Sam Oji, who has moved to Hereford United after spending time at both Arsenal and Birmingham FC.

Ash has also played an influential role in the career of Anthony Wordsworth, a gifted young midfielder who is on the verge of securing a first-team place at League One side Colchester United. With almost 13 years of experience under his belt, Ash has developed a great understanding of the media world that today's professional footballers are exposed to. His work both on and off the pitch has also merited various media coverage, with BBC, ITV and Channel Four all producing documentaries on his achievements.

Ash has received the highest possible praise for all the hard work that he has put in over the years, receiving invites to the Buckingham Palace and No.10 Downing Street, where he met former Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

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Mary completed her MSc in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics in 2001 and began her career as Press Officer of Theatre Royal Stratford East. She previously worked as a PR Officer for ND Music Company working with clients such as The Dreem Teem and girl group
Mis-teeq and has worked across a variety of media from Sky News Room, Sky News Radio, The Guardian Newspaper, Kiss FM Breakfast Show with Bam Bam, Asian Women Magazine, BBC 1Xtra's Desi Beats and B Fashion Magazine. In 2004 Mary launched MRPR and currently has an extensive list of high profile clients from the arts, film, fashion and music sector. MRPR have worked with some of the most talented, freshest and cutting edge national and international artists within the South Asian and mainstream industry. PR Accounts include Amjad Ali Khan concert at the Royal Festival Hall, Bafta Goes Bollywood (working with Shah Rukh Khan; Yash Chopra, Karan Johar, Aamir Khan; Kajol and Preity Zinta); Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2006; Township Stories from South Africa, Rafta Rafta
starring Meera Syal at the National Theatre; restaurant launch with Premiership Footballer Ashley Cole.2007 clients include the Croydon Summer Festival with Radio 1's Bobby and Nihal and a Weekend with Amitabh Bachan at Bafta.

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Toffael RASHID
Global Brand Director

Toffael Rashid is British born but proudly of Bangladeshi parentage. He is a globally renowned marketing professional, currently based in Singapore where he works for the world famous advertising agency, Lowe & Partners as Global Strategy Director. In this capacity, he advises several blue chip multinational companies on their global marketing strategies.

Toffael learnt his trade working for Unilever for over 12 years based at various stages in the UK, France, India, & Thailand. During these assignments he has had country, continental and global responsibilities and in the process gained cultural and business experience in over 40 countries across 5 continents. He also spent 18 months with PepsiCo based in Bangkok as Director - Innovation & New Ventures; Asia.

Toffael is vastly experienced in all aspects of the marketing process including generating insight; ideation, developing large scale global innovations and international marketing communications as well as executing large scale marketing activities at a country level. Much of his work has been recognized through prestigious awards from the UK Marketing Society and Cannes Advertising Festival and has received coverage from global media such as The Economist, TIME magazine, CNN, BBC etc.

Toffael’s core belief is that marketing can be a tool for societal upgradation; that when the private and public sector work together, society can be transformed in a small but significant way. Key examples of this include his masterminding of Unilever’s first service business in its 108 year history through the internet focused start-up ’myhome’ as well as the reinvention of its oldest brand in India, Lifebuoy, through a path breaking and award winning rural marketing campaign.

Toffael is a regular speaker at high profile marketing conferences in Europe & Asia, lectures at various MBA courses and is a regular contributor of marketing essays. He is an executive member of the British Marketing Forum and a founding member of the Bangladesh Brand Forum.


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Fashion Designer

From within the hustle and bustle of East London and the narrow streets of Brick Lane, as the old surroundings are replaced with new, expensive high rise penthouses, an evolution is taking place that promises to take fashion to a new level. As British society continues to experience this ongoing, organic change in traditions and characteristics, so to is the fashion world and none more so than Pasha Razzo. "The environment is a constantly evolving, melange of nature, society and culture", explains Harun Pasha, a young, talented and inspirational British Bengali.

This 32-year-old model turned fashion designer started off as a freelance architect but always believed he was a born designer so decided to take the plunge and set up his own fashion brand. His mainstream modelling career started while at university after he was spotted in a bar in Paris and asked to model for Jean-Paul Gaultier. He was signed up with Empire models management and modelled for Vivienne Westwood. Pasha won the Mr Zee 1996 ‘photogenic prince’ at the International Supermodels competition. He was the face behind the campaign for Regis hair salon.

Pasha always had a natural artistic flair for creativeness and wanted to design innovative and exciting clothes for the rich and famous. His client list includes professional footballers Rio Ferdinand, Deon Burton and MTV award-winners Supergrass.

All sources of inspiration influence Pasha’s creativity and he is fascinated by the British Raj period. Currently working on an eveningwear collection called ‘Seduction’ and an exciting collection, 1971, which is based on the Bangladeshi War of Independence that will reflect happiness, history, culture, art and poetry. The musician Joi is already queuing up to wear it!

Pasha’s interests are music, singing and used to be in an Asian boy band. For his fashion shows he coordinates the music to the clothes ensuring it blends with the fashion theme.

Pasha Razzo is a modern British company that creates contemporary clothing, with classic styling that displays both eastern and western influences to represent today's increasingly international society. The designs represent the fusion of distinct societies, which together to produce something new whilst still drawing on the virtues of all sources of inspiration. "My productions reflect the beauty of our multicultural society. They are created for progressive, vibrant people who desire distinctive clothing to complement their open minded, expressive personalities", explains Harun Pasha.

The garments are produced from original designs and at every stage of the production process, the very highest standards are maintained and applied. The end result is an object of desire that commands respect and provokes positive reactions from men and women. What is unique about Pasha Razzo is that he has recognised a need for the male customer in particular to have credible options. In the fashion industry, the wishes of men are often overlooked, product choices have been limited and different brands can appear to selling very similar products. Pasha Razzo seeks to redress the balance. In the words of Harun Pasha, "Pasha Razzo is committed to providing garments of exceptional quality. We produce suits by hand for those who wish to 'Dress to Impress'".

Pasha Razzo is one of the best up and coming British Asian fashion designers. He showcased his latest collection at the Asian Wedding Exhibition and ‘Asian Dreams’ at The Brewery in 2003. Pasha Razzo will again be showcasing his fashion at the London Fashion Week in September 2004, the biannual showcase for British designer fashion

Watch out for Pasha Razzo the next best thing! Future fashion shows check website at:

To view some of his previous collection click here.

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An upcoming talent who directed Second Generation, the two-part drama for Channel 4 starring Om Puri and Parminder Nagra, which was his first major TV project. His short film, Bust, was selected by the UK Film Council to tour international festivals and screened at Cannes 2003. Prior to that, he directed Reignited, a 30-minute drama, and wrote and directed The Love Doctor for BBC Films. He has written two other short films – Dead on Time, and The Wedding Anniversary - directed a documentary about stand-up comedians for Carlton’s Metroland series and is an experienced documentary film editor. He is currently writing a two-part drama for BBC Drama Serials called The Pact.

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Joi: Farook SHAMSER
Musician/Music Producer

Farook Shamser is a successful musician. Born to Bangladeshi father and Indian mother his passion for music developed at a young age as his father was a musician, a flute player. Joi was formed, originally working under the banners 'League Of Joi Bangla Youth Organisation' and 'Joi Bangla', a collective set up in 1983 to promote Bengali culture to kids in their local area (East London). Fusing Asian influences with Western beats, the brothers put out their first single in 1987, 'Taj Mahouse', with the tunes 'Funky Asian' and the acclaimed 'Desert Storm' following shortly after. When their debut album 'One and One is One' was released Joi were Farook and Haroon Shamsher, two young Bengalis raised in London's East End.

Long before the fashion for Asian-influenced dance music took off in the mid- to late 90s, Farook and Haroon Shamsher (d. 8 July 1999) were fusing the sounds of traditional Bengali music with hip-hop and contemporary dance styles. In the mid-80s, they were part of a youth movement in east London called Joi Bangla, which aimed to promote various aspects of Bengali culture. Wishing to concentrate on the music side, the brothers formed a sound system with the same name and began playing around local community centres. At the same time they wrote their own material and in 1988 recorded a promo, "Taj Ma House" (BPM Records), which coincided with the acid house movement. As they continued to write, they produced DATs that they played out on the sound system, with additional live percussion and samples, in the same way as dub plates. In 1992, they released "Desert Storm" on Rhythm King Records as Joi, which was also the name of a club night they hosted the following year that ran weekly at London's Bass Clef. Over the next few years they continued to play their own material, and tracks recorded by like-minded artists, as the Joi sound system at various clubs and parties, including Bar Rumba, the Big Chill, Megatripolis, Ministry Of Sound and Return To The Source.

They developed a live act and performed at such events as Tribal Gathering, Whirl-Y-Gig and WOMAD, as well as others around Europe. In October 1996, the Bangladesh EP was released on Nation Records to raise awareness of disastrous Western interference in that country's affairs. "High Times" and "Nargin" are typical of their unique, melodic sound, which blends Asian and Middle Eastern sounds with various styles of dance music without adhering to any one in particular. In 1998, they contributed a remix of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's "Sweet Pain" to the tribute album Star Rise, and signed to Real World Records, releasing their debut album at the end of the year. They also contributed tracks to a large number of compilations, notably "Goddess" on Sony's Eastern Uprising (1997), "India" on Zip Dog's Global Explorer (1997) and "Shanti" on Law And Auder's Further East (1998). Their highly influential sound system helped promote their fusion ethic regardless of trends within the music industry. Over the years the duo worked with various other artists and DJs, including Asian Dub Foundation, Athletico, Mixmaster Morris, Plaid and Spring Heel Jack.

Catching the attention of Peter Gabriel, during a set at Womad in 1996, Joi signed to his Real World label the following year, leading to the release of their critically acclaimed debut album, 'One And One Is One' in 1999. Tragedy hit the brothers later that year, when Haroon died unexpectedly of a heart-attack at the age of 34. Having already worked on a follow-up to their debut with his brother, Farook vowed to complete the project. Joi was originally brothers Farook and Haroon Shamsher. 'We Are Three' is a tribute to Haroon. Haroon had completed much of the preparatory work earlier that year when he travelled to Bangladesh to make recordings with local musicians. Recorded in Bangladesh and in London with Spring Heel Jack producers John Coxon and Ashley Wales, its title is a reference to Joi's spiritual belief in the powers that surround us. Says Farook: "Haroon's vibe is not only still there, it's there on every single track. It's his legacy. His tribute gig last summer was to benefit the Community Workshop and get other Bengali kids into mixing up traditional music with Western electronica - and this record is a testament to that."

Joi’s debut album 'One And One Is One' was released in the UK in March 1999 on Real World Records, following the release of a limited edition promo single 'Fingers' complete with Lionrock remix. Joi's talent for original fusion was powerfully demonstrated on their first major vinyl outing 'Desert Storm' (Rhythm King) in 1993. It earned them Single Of The Week status in NME magazine, where the reviewer described it as "one of the most inventive dance records ever made". Joi had also contributed to a number of compilations - in particular, a big beat mix of a classic Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan track, 'Sweet Pain', which is the lead track on Real World Record's tribute album 'Star Rise' - as well as 'Goddess' which appeared on the Sony 'Eastern Uprising' compilation.
In between working in the studio, Joi had been taking their sound system to clubs around London, as well as supporting Spiritualised on their British tour that year. The sound system sets allowed Joi to mix up DATs with vinyl, and feature on-line sampling and live percussion. All the DATs played were exclusives of Joi's own stuff - the sound system format allowed them to cut established Joi tunes into new work hot out of the studio. The Joi Sound System had torn it up at clubs and gigs like The End, The Complex, Return To The Source, and the Ministry of Sound. Joi also put on a full live show - incorporating sitar, guitar, tablas, and vocals by Susheela Raman. This had taken audiences by storm at events such as WOMAD, Swaraj, Big Chill and Tribal Gathering and had taken them as far afield as Bucharest, Rome and Geneva. They also performed live radio sessions with Andy Kershaw (Radio 1), XFM and GLR.

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Osmani Soundz

Shahid Choudhury was a key member of the 'Asian Underground' scene. One of the original Anokha DJs at the legendary Blue Note (London). He also produced a track titled; Spiritual Masterkey for the Anokha Album in 1997 (Mango/Island) compiled by Talvin Singh.

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State of Bengali: Sam Zaman
DJ group/Music Producers

State of Bengal (SOB) is one of the key DJ / producers to arise from the new cutting-edge British-Asian music scene. State of Bengal had formed back in 1987 as a rap unit, and worked with local youth from East London to create a self-sufficient group of young people involved in the development of the arts across the spectrum of music. Having worked in a variety of communities from across the country, they tried to set up a record company called Betelnut Productions.

In 1987, Sam Zaman went to the village of Noakhali to visit traditional folk musicians and dancers. Drawing from his experiences Sam returned to London to set up a Sound System, which included DJs, musicians, rappers and dancers. The team mixed Bengali and western dance styles to create a style that epitomized the diverse facets and synergy between the two cultures in the UK. The Sound System developed its repertoire and reputation and found its identity as the State of Bengal. Two of the rappers that Sam helped to train up were MC Deedar who went on to Asian Dub Foundation and MC Mustaq who became the lead rapper for Fun-Da-Mental.

Sam then spent 3 years completing his degree, whilst still training singers, rappers and DJs, many of whom went on to establish themselves as part of the core of the new British-Asian scene, Osmani Soundz and Gesse being among them. While maintaining his involvement with other artists, Sam continued to work on his concepts for State of Bengal, creating a definitive style of music that draws from a multitude of influences of both East and West. The aim of SOB has always been to reflect the experience of second generation Asians in the UK through music, as music is one of the few universal languages known to man. He has developed a strong fan base, with both Asian and Mainstream audiences. His music is complemented with live DJing at a host of globally-respected venues.

His reputation as an innovative and exciting producer and DJ were projected further by his eruptive tracks Flight IC408 and Chittagong Chill, featured on Talvin Singh's highly-acclaimed Anokha compilation, as well as his remix of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Shadow for the RealWorld StarRise compilation. The industry and media hailed the tracks as ground-breaking. The success of the tracks led to Sam being courted by major labels, culminating in a deal with Indie label, One Little Indian in September 1997.

It was at Anokha, a weekly club night that ran for 18 months that international artists Bjork discovered SOB's music and unique DJing style. She was so inspired that she asked him to remix the track Hunter from her Homogenic album and open for her world tour (end of 1997). Her respect for State of Bengal's music and DJing skills led her to pursue him to sign to her label One Little Indian. SOB's music and unique DJ ability, of mixing an eclectic range of music from Indian classical, breakbeat, hiphop, tabla-driven beat, melodic Indian vocals, to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to fit together comfortably, which was instrumental in the success and aesthetic of the Anokha club.

Since his departure from Anokha in July 1997 he has been sought after as a resident DJ at several clubs around London and the UK. At present he has taken up a monthly residency at the cutting-edge 333 club in London, hosted by infamous DJ, music critic (Mixmag) and radio presenter (Kiss FM and GLR) Patrick Forge. SOB is frequently requested to perform live on-air DJ guest slots for several radio shows.

1997 and 1998 proved to be hectic years, in which State of Bengal completed his debut album Visual Audio, whilst also taking time out of the studio to tour with Apache Indian as well as his own live DJ tour. During this time period he was also offered several remixes by various artists, of which he accepted Ronnie Jordan and agreed to co-produce a single for Warner artists Amar.

State of Bengal has been a fan and collector of Ananda Shankar, whom he has helped to bring back into focus in the UK by holding tribute nights. SOB also collaborated with Ananda Shankar on an alnum, after completing a long-awaited joint UK tour, which included the international WOMAD festival. He has been asked to remix a track by Massive Attack after they heard him at the RealWorld studios.

Sam continues with his passion to encourage and train-up talented musicians and vocalists who would not otherwise necessarily have the opportunity to enter the music industry and where possible incorporates them in his music.

In September 1998, Mumbai, India, was sent rocking when State of Bengal was transported by UG Sound Systems to DJ live with an interactive drummer at 3 Flights Up and the Razz Rhino. The response from media, industry, celebrities and muscians was groundbreaking.

State of Bengal (SOB) took up residence at the infamous & influential Anokha and toured with Bjork for the Homogenic album. SOB played to the majority of European Festivals and club circuits both as a DJ and as a live band (Marque Gilmore, Matt Mars, Paul Chivers, Susmita Bannerjee, Noam Leaderman, Lopa, U-CEF, Simon King (Engineer), to promote the Visual Audio album. Six Degrees Records released Visual Audio in the USA in 2000. SOB went on tour with the Ananda Shankar Experience, which resulted in the recording of the album Walking On. The album was recorded live as well as in studio.

SOB has DJ'ed across the five continents and has interacted with other live musicians, Marque ‘inna•most' Gilmore (London-UK), Matt Mars (London-UK), Paul Chivers (London-UK), Ram Nagi (London-UK), U-cef (London-UK), Tafique Quarishi (Bombay-India), Djalma Correra (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Ranjit Bharot (Bombay-India), Michael Shreef (Santana Band-Portland USA), Graham Haynes (NYC-US), Purna Das Baul & Family (Kolkata-India), Paban Das Baul (Paris-France).

Sam Zaman, leading DJ and producer in the Asian club scene, was among the urban Asian artists who played in the mainstream Glastonbury festival that dedicated an Asian stage for the very first time in 2004.

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Shelley SILAS

Shelley Silas was born in Calcutta and grew up in north London. The author of ‘Calcutta Kosher’, a poignant story that touches on the delicate bond between a mother and her daughters and the even more fragile links between land and identity, faith and culture. Set in a crumbling house in the Indian Jewish community, Mozelle, a formidable matriarch, has decided she is about to die. On her request, her daughters Silvie and Esther return to their birth home. Although the house is unchanged, the women are. They have long since settled abroad, and their identities are marked by the need to belong in the countries of their choice. Over a Sabbath supper of Indian Jewish food, revelations are made. Silvie and Esther are forced to confront the reality of their own lives in the light of a hidden past. Sunday Times: "This is a wise, compassionate, moving play, studded with sharp but melancholy jokes and acted with hard but touching emotional intelligence: a gem that glows in the dark". The theatre production was at the Southward Playhouse and Theatre Royal Stratford East. Calcutta Kosher is directed by Kali artistic director, Janet Steel.

Theatre includes: Calcutta Kosher (Kali Theatre) at the Southwark Playhouse & UK tour; Falling at The Bush Theatre, where she was the Pearson writer-in-residence 2002; Shrapnel (Steam Industry) BAC. Plays for Radio 4: devising and co-writing The Magpie Stories, Calcutta Kosher and The Sound Of Silence. She is co-adapting The Raj Quartet (with John Harvey) and Hanan al-Shaykh's novel, Only In London also for Radio 4 to be broadcast in 2005. Current work includes Moses Mohammed for the Bush and Partitions for Tamasha Theatre. She has compiled and edited a short story anthology, Twelve Days, to be published in November 2004 by Virago. Shelley is the writer-in-residence for Clean Break's 2005 production.

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Professional Footballer

Anwar Uddin is the only Bangladeshi professional footballer in England. He spent seven years training with West Ham’s youth team. In 2002 he joined the reserve team at Sheffield Wednesday, eventually making captain. He is now a regular first team member at Division Three club Bristol Rovers and has built up a reputation as a tough tackling defender who can also play in midfield if needed. Anwar Uddin has so far received no yellow or red cards. Anwar Uddin is currently playing for Bristol Rovers. He is a first choice centre-back at the Club, and has been awarded over seven man-of-the-match awards last season. He was voted young player of the year last season.Anwar Uddin’s achievements include being voted one of the most promising young players in the South-East by “The Independent” newspaper. He is receiving exposure from local newspapers and various Independent articles as he has an excellent chance of being the first Asian player to play in the Premier League. Signed for Bristol Rovers FC in the summer of 2002 on a two year contract.

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Baroness Pola Manzila UDDIN
Labour Peer

Baroness Uddin was raised to the Peerage as Baroness Uddin of Bethnal Green in 1998. She is the only Muslim, female member of the House of Lords. Baroness Uddin’s career background includes being a Youth and Community worker at YWCA, Liaison Officer for Tower Hamlets Social Services, and Manager of Tower Hamlets Womens’ Health Project. Baroness Uddin has special interests in education, health, children, local government, equal opportunities among others.

Baroness Manzila Pola Uddin was born in Bangladesh and brought up in London, where she attended Plashet Grammar School. A youth and community worker in Tower Hamlets she became the first Bengali woman to sit on a local authority in Britain when she was elected as a councillor in Tower Hamlets in 1990, and served as Deputy Leader there for two years. As a community activist she helped to initiate many projects, such as a women's health and advocacy project, counselling services for families, an IT project and notably the Jagonari Centre, the first purpose built women's education and training centre in the country. In 1988 she obtained a social work qualification from the University of North London and began a long career with Newham Social Services. During this time she headed the development of initiatives on domestic violence and worked as a child protection officer and team manager. She continues her social services career as an independent consultant. When she received her peerage in 1998, she was the youngest woman on the government benches. She was also the first Muslim to enter the Lords, and the only Muslim woman in Parliament. Raised to the peerage as one of Tony Blair's "working peers", she became the first Bengali and the first Muslim woman to sit in the House of Lords. She swore by "Almighty Allah" as she took her seat.

Since entering the House of Lords, Baroness Uddin has continued her work on human rights and local government and has advised various government departments. She is married with four sons and one daughter.

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Dr Wali Tasar Uddin, MBE
Business Entrepreneur

Director General of BBCC; and Chairman and C.E.O of the Universal Koba Corporations Ltd, Chairman of Frontline International Air Services (London) and the Chairman of the Commonwealth Society of Edinburgh.

He is the award winner of the following: Britannia Spice winner of the 2001 Pat Chapman’s Good Curry Guide ‘Best Curry Restaurant in Scotland’, Les Routiers ‘Newcomer of the Year 2001 Award’ and the Sunday Times ‘Best Ethnic Restaurant Award’.

Dr Uddin is active in the Edinburgh Mela, Rotary International, and numerous charity initiatives that have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for good causes. In addition his own commercial interests he is a respected consultant to several major award-winning restaurants in Scotland and in UK.

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Iqbal Wahhab was born in Bangladesh and came to Britain at the age of eight months. He was educated in London and is a graduate of the London School of Economics. At university he was Chairman of the Debating Union and Editor of the student newspaper.

After working as a journalist in the national press for three years, in 1991 he set up his own PR firm that specialised in food, drink and restaurants and then in 1994 he launched Tandoori Magazine.

He left the magazine to launch the multi award winning Cinnamon Club in 2001 - a restaurant and bar aimed to change the way we view Indian dining. He also acted as a voluntary advisor to the NHS on how food and drink is served to hospital patients and has been chairman of the board of trustees for the educational charity Learning for Life. In 2003 he co-authored the Cinnamon Club Cookbook and in 2005 opened Roast, a restaurant and bar in Borough Market celebrating the best of British cooking with the best of seasonal British produce.

In 2007 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by the University of East London. He currently acts as Skills Ambassador for the 2012 Olympic Games and is also on the board of the Bright Ideas Trust. He is an ambassador for Rivington Place, a project to create a landmark building that will be the first permanent home for culturally diverse visual arts in the UK. He also works closely with The Prince's Trust, taking children from under-privileged schools in south east London and spending half days with them at Roast and taking them on food education programmes around Borough Market.

Iqbal has been appointed to chair the Government's Ethnic Minority Advisory Group to discuss ways to reduce ethnic minority unemployment levels and sits on a Task Force with five minsters to formulate policies to this end. He has also been appointed to the Government's Worklessness Review, tasked with assessing the effectiveness of current policies to tackle unemployment. He chairs the DWP's 2012 Olympic Games Project group briefed with maximizing job and business opportunities for ethnic minorities.

He is a board member of The Adab Trust, set up to connect employers to unemployed south Asian graduates and last year became the first Patron of the charity concern Worldwide.
Voted Restaurant Personality of the Year by Menu Magazine

Voted one of the Top 10 Restaurateurs in Britain in an Independent on Sunday survey
Businessman of the Year 2008 The Drinks Business

"Iqbal is a restaurateur par excellence, combining a passion for food with an art for communication, fine attention to detail and sound commercial acumen." Mark Price Managing Director of Waitrose on
"National Treasure" - The Times

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Deedar ZAMAN


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