Sumon Chowdhury performs. Photo: Prabir Das
Eminent artiste Sumon Chowdhury was the featured performer of this month's musical adda at Star Melodies, a regular musical event organised by Star Arts & Entertainment. Eminent Nazrul exponent and editor, Star Arts & Entertainment, Sadya Afreen Mallick welcomed the selective artistes and connoisseurs at the event and addressed the small gathering. The event was interactive where Sumon elaborated the diverse aspects of Nazrul Sangeet, and a brief sketch of Bangla music. He also performed several Nazrul numbers, with analysing its significant relations with classical ragas and other musical features. A Q&A session on Nazrul Sangeet followed. He also shared his personal understanding of the genre and his musical learning with the audience that comprised several noted and promising singers including Shelu Barua, Sheikh Jasim, Bizon Chandra Mistry, Aloke Kumar Sen, Ibne Razon and music aficionado artist Dr. Malay Bala.
Sheikh Jasim, Shelu Barua and Sadya Afreen Mallick participate in the discussion. Photo: Prabir Das
“I started singing Kazi Nazrul Islam's songs from the beginning of my musical education. We would simultaneously continue cultural and religious practices at our home. Many of my family members had musical training. My father took lessons from Ustad Mohammad Khan, the elder son of Wazir Hossain Khan. Music ran naturally in my blood. After Independence, I started learning and performing songs originally recorded by Manna Dey. Later, I went to Chhayanaut. From my second year at the organisation, I seriously started learning and performing Nazrul Sangeet. Sohrab Hossain, Anjali Rai and Ahsan Morshed were my gurus at Chhayanaut. Gradually, I started learning classical ragas and its close affinity with Nazrul Sangeet.
“The shruti of Miyan Ki Malhar seems prominent in the Nazrul song 'Ajhor Dharaye Borsha Jhorey'; though a touch of Ramdasi Malhar is associated with it. Again the second line of the lyrics 'Nidra Nahi Tomaye Chahi Amar Nayan Paat-e' evokes the essence of raga Jaijawanti. This is the excellence of Nazrul's songs that the Bangalees first understood in the Bard's composition.
“The colours of kheyal and dhrupad styles of North Indian Classical Music were not much developed prior to the advent of Kazi Nazrul Islam. If we say about the songs of Rai Chand Boral, K. Mallick, Radhika Prasad Goswami and Jnan Goshai, we find some touch of it. But, the trend of Bangla music followed a drastic change with Nazrul's compositions. The use of murki or the musical ornamentation, harkat, gamak and meend in Bangla music were frequent in Nazrul's time, after compositions by Tagore and his contemporary composers,” he added.
Sumon Chowdhury performed several Nazrul Sangeet while elaborating its musical relations with classical ragas and bandish of various gharanas, that might have inspired Nazrul to compose them.
Sumon set off the performance with a bandish “Jhanana Jhanana Jhanana Bajey Payela”. He sang several monsoon melodies including “Ojhor Dharaye Dorsha Jhorey” and “Jhoro Jhoro Jhorey Shawon Dhara”, set on raga Ramdasi Malhar. “This is the first Bengali song set on raga Ramdasi Malhar. Harihar Shukla, father of renowned singer Haimanti Shukla, recorded another song set on the same raga after Nazrul,” said Sumon Chowdhury.
“Kazi Nazrul's songs are full of beautiful imagery, hypotheses, metaphors and depiction of painting-like beautiful poetry. The bard superbly composed ghazal, Islamic songs, shyama sangeet and other genres. Nazrul was bold and dared to express what he felt. The apparently patriotic song “Mago Chinmoyi Roop Dhorey Aaye” is an example of such beauty of boldness and rebellion. Another song “Amar Shyama Mayer Koley Chore Jopi Ami Shyam-er Naam” was a dangerous attempt to combine the beliefs of two Hindu communities – Shakyo and Vaishnav into one,” the artiste went on.
“Again, his spirited compositions – 'Durgam Giri Kantar Moru', 'Karar Oi Louho Kopat', 'Aji Rokto Nishi Bhor' and 'Tora Shob Joyoddhwani Kor' still stir our rebellious senses as those motivated our Freedom Fighters in the battle field in 1971,” added the artiste.
Sumon rendered an Islamic song “E Kon Modhur Sharab Diley” and a Shyama sangeet “Shyama Naam-er Laglo Agun” at the event. The artiste's amazing presentation of the song “Amar Aponar Cheye Apon Je Jon” enthralled the music connoisseurs. Sumon Chowdhuiry wrapped up the soiree with the song “Sanjher Pakhira Phirilo Kulaye”, set on raga Malobshree or otherwise called Maru Kalyan.
Executive editor of The Daily Star Syed Badrul Ahsan delivered vote of thanks at the end of the event that was followed by an Iftar that also turned into a vibrant musical discussion session.