Noted litterateur, filmmaker, TV playwright-director and painter, Professor Humayun Ahmed had a musical soul. He reintroduced the legacy of folk music of the north-eastern part of Bangladesh (popularly known as songs of Bhatianchol) and Sylhet, aptly using those in his films and TV plays. He wrote many songs too, that have special appeals to his fans. Those who closely worked with Ahmed shared their savoir faire on Humayun Ahmed's musical creations with The Daily Star.
Bari Siddiqui: Noted singer-composer Bari Siddiqui said “The way Humayun Ahmed adored music and honoured artistes as a whole was unparallel. He made proper use of music in his films. I recorded the song 'Pubali Batashey' composed by Ukil Munshi, with full artistic freedom. He could choose the right person to represent any piece of art. He was uncompromising in regard to arts.”
Subir Nandi: Renowned singer Subir Nandi has playbacked many popular songs including “Ekta Chhilo Shonar Konya” and “O Amar Ural Ponkhi Rey”, written by Ahmed. Nandi termed Humayun as a luminous aficionado of music. “As a listener, Ahmed was great. With regard to popularising folk music to urban culture and his commitment to the country's history, heritage and an attachment to Moromi songs, Ahmed is outstanding. I have recorded many songs for his TV plays as well,” he mentioned.
Meher Afroze Shaon: Singer, actress and Humayun Ahmed's wife Shaon said, “I rendered several songs in Humayun's films and TV plays. Humayun Ahmed wrote several songs only for me like 'Jodi Mon Ka(n)dey', 'Ke Porailo Amar Chokh-e Kolonko Kajol', 'Cholona Brishtitey Bhiji'. When he was busy shooting for the film 'Noy Nombor Bipod Shongket', I was recording the song “Jodi Mon Ka(n)dey”. I cannot express that feeling in words. He popularised songs of Baul Shah Abdul Karim, Hason Raja, Jalal Uddin, Gias Uddin Ahmed and Ukil Munshi. He used to wrap up each episode of TV serial 'Aj Robibar' with a Hason Raja song,” she recalled.
Jewel Rana: Ahmed's chief assistant director Jewel Rana shared unknown stories of Ahmed's lyric-writing. “Sir (Humayun Ahmed) never wanted to become a lyricist; rather, he wrote songs for his films and TV plays only to avert the pains of making lyricists realise his scripts. He had a great fascination for folk music. When sir along with Gultekin Khan visited his village, Islam Uddin Boyati instantly composed a lyric 'Koi Gelirey Hena Ar Mina, Taratari Dekh Aiya, Kutubpur-er Bhaisab Aichhe Bhabire Loiya'. Humayun sir composed around 40 songs for his films and TV plays. He wrote 'Channi Poshor Raite Jeno Amar Moron Hoy' instantly while sipping tea. He wished and wanted us to play the song after his death.”
Selim Chowdhury: Singer Selim Chowdhury said, “Not being a poet, Humayun Ahmed wrote several outstanding lyrics that contain mystic poetic metaphors. Humayun Ahmed's musical taste was very refined. He used Tagore songs like 'Dur-e Kothao', (recorded by Rezwana Chowdhury Bonnya) or Mita Huq's rendition. He even amusingly used Hindi tracks including 'Hawa Main Urta Jaye' in one of his TV plays and people received it very well. He could apply music accurately.”
Maksud Jamil Mintoo: Noted music composer-director Maksud Jamil Mintoo composed several film songs written by Humayun Ahmed. Mintoo also composed many songs including “Hablonger Bajarey Giya” (by Subir Nandi) for Ahmed's TV plays. Besides, the composer did several songs like “Konya Nachilo Rey”, written by Ahmed for Shaon's solo album. He said, “Humayun Ahmed would be present during recordings and would hear songs and praise candidly. Humayun Ahmed honoured Baul Shah Abdul Karim, brought him to Dhaka, and made other singers render the bard's songs. Sir also recorded five folk songs by eminent artiste Firoza Begum. I arranged music for both the ventures. Humayun Ahmed said that quality and popularity are not the same. Any good work may not be popular; but what is good is good forever. Again, many popular pieces might carry no message.
SI Tutul: Popular singer-composer SI Tutul recollected Ahmed as a man of music. “He gave me many outstanding lyrics that inspired me to compose them. He was an avid fan of Rabindra and Nazrul Sangeet and songs of three poets. Sir would hum the song 'Ami Akriti Adhom' every now and then. Inspired by Ahmed, I, with my wife Tania, have established an interactive school named 'All Saints' in Dhaka, where students receive general education along with lessons on art, music, culture and counseling.”
Humayun Ahmed is no more with us. But his diverse creative works remain in the memory of his fans.