The Bangla New Year was marked, dividing the six seasons according to cultivation of crops for the convenience of toll collection by Mughal Emperor Akbar, with another tradition of Halkhata -- of businesses closing the old accounts ledgers and opening new ones through treating their customers to sweets and other delicacies. There is always that extra air of festivity surrounding Boishakh, and in that spirit, Star Melodies organised a gathering of musicians of repute, to embark on an evening of timeless melodies. Titled “Baul Batash”, the event was held on April 19 (Saturday) at the AS Mahmud Seminar Hall of The Daily Star Centre.
Artistes and audience were welcomed into a new-look auditorium -- with set, light and art direction by Selim SH Chowdhury, with pulsating beats of dhol by Doshoroth Dhuli, after Sadya Afreen Mallick, who compered the programme, welcomed the guests. Close-Up 1 champion of 2008, Liza was the first to perform, setting the mood with two timeless numbers, “Ami Rojonigondha Phul'er Moto” and “Jar Chhaya Porechhe” in her silky voice. As the audience swelled in numbers, Munir Chowdhury, Mofizul Huq, Kona, Abdullah Al Mamun, Sabbir and Bizon Chandra Mistry gave in performances thick and fast, only as if to condense the ambiance. Be it the ever-familiar “Neel Akash'er Niche Ami”, “O Nodi Re”, “Chena Chena Lage”, “E Shudhu Gaaner Din”, “Shobai Toh Shukhi Hote Chay” or the lesser-remembered but still blissfully melodious ones like “Ami Nijer Mone Nijei Jeno”, “Paharer Kanna Dekhe”. To bring in a little variation, Kona, who was originally a Nazrul Sangeet artiste before she switched focus to pop -- sang a Nazrul number “Megher'o Domoru Ghono Baaje”, while Bizon Chandra Mistry sang an Ajoy Chakrabarty song “Dokhina Batash Aji Bohey Mridumondo”.
With three accomplished musicians playing along -- Sunil Kumar Sarkar on keys, Sunil Chandra Das on violin and Bishwajit on tabla, the music seemingly oozed out and overflowed out of the auditorium, as members of The Daily Star family dropped in, some even standing at the back, unable to find seats. And it was not just them who were enjoying the music; nearly all the artistes sat through even after their performance, taking a stroll down memory lane with the songs.
The inimitable Syed Badrul Ahsan (Executive Editor, The Daily Star) also took up the microphone in between performances, causing loud laughs among the audience with his witty remarks and quips. The musical performances, meanwhile, continued. Moumita Haq Sejuti, a first year college student, took the audience by surprise with her skillful rendition of SD Burman's “Ami Chhinu Eka” and a semi-classical number “Shankarkare Domoru Bajey”, while Nasima Shaheen Fancy and Nargis Chowdhury also sang beautiful songs like “Aj Tobe Etukui Thak”, Onek Brishti Jhorey” and “Sagorer Teer Theke”.
The three artistes to follow, however, took the evening to another level. Beauty put her expressive vocal range on display with two Lalon songs “Chatok Bache Kemone” and “Shob Loke Koy Lalon Ki Jaat”, along with “Amar Sona'r Moyna Pakhi” as Doshoroth Dhuli joined in, while Chandana Majumdar, with her usual smile on the face, effortlessly performed a Lalon number “Emon Manob Somaj” and an upbeat folk song “Tomra Na Jaiyo Jomuna'r Jole”. Kiron Chandra Roy discussed the early struggles of singing folk songs after Bangladesh's independence, and how the culture is sometimes misrepresented. He sang two self-written songs “Aul Baul Koro Tomra” and “Na Janiya Bhed Bidhan”, with the profound lyrics and his booming voice touching those in the crowd.
By then, Fahmida Nabi had also arrived, who performed her father Mahmudun Nabi's famous song “Tumi Kokhon Eshe Dariye Acho”, along with one verse each from a few of her own popular songs. Anupama Mukti was the last to take the stage, bringing a fitting close to the evening with two marvelous songs “Gaane Mor Kon Indrodhonu” and “Je Chhilo Drishty'r Simanaye”.
The evening provided a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of busy cosmopolitan life - of going back in time with the songs of yesteryears, and forgetting the scorching heat and unbearable traffic jams. Chandana Majumdar aptly said she would love for such events to be a regular occurrence, and not just as a performer, but as a listener too.