Bangladeshi singer-actor Hero Alom, who has a huge fan-following on the internet, was hauled in by police and told to stop singing his renditions of songs. He has nearly two million Facebook followers and almost 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube.
"Hero" Alom, as he styles himself, has amassed nearly two million Facebook
followers and almost 1.5 million on YouTube with his unique crooning style and arresting, raunchy videos.
One of his numbers, "Arabian Song", in which he appears in traditional Arab clothing on a sand dune with camels superimposed in the background, has garnered 17 million views.
But he has also drawn critics' scorn, particularly for versions of classic songs of two beloved national treasures -- Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and Bangladesh's national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Alom said that he was "mentally tortured" by police last week and was asked to stop performing classical songs. Alom also claimed that he was told “he was too ugly to be a singer,” and to sign an "apology" bond.
"The police picked me up at 6 am and kept me there for eight hours. They asked me why I sing Rabindra and Nazrul songs," Alom said in an interview.
Dhaka's chief detective Harun ur Rashid told reporters that Alom had apologised for singing the cherished songs and for wearing police uniforms without permission in his videos.
"We received many complaints against him. (He) totally changed the (traditional) style (of singing). He assured us that he won't repeat this," Harun added.
Farook Hossain, deputy police commissioner of Dhaka, rejected claims by Alom that he had also been asked to change his name.
"He is making these comments just to go viral in social media," he told AFP. His fans, however, outraged on social media with several sections calling it an attack on individual rights.
Hero Alom said that he has featured in several films and also participated in Bangladesh's parliamentary election in 2018 as an independent candidate -- garnering 638 votes.
"I felt like I am a hero. So I took the name Hero Alom. I won't drop this name no matter what. At present, it seems you can't even sing with freedom in Bangladesh,” he said.