There are those sudden moments when you remember some song you heard ages ago and then had quite forgotten all about it. The remembrance comes when you least expect it. Perhaps you are in the shower or shopping for vegetables in a noisy market. Or maybe you are shaving. It is at that precise moment that you recall a song such as Saiful Islam's golpokothar kolpoloke ek je chhilo rajar kumar / ek din ek rajkumari'r shathe holo dekha tar. This song, as you might remember, was sung nearly fifty years ago. And Saiful Islam, who really sang only a few songs in his entire career, has been dead for a long time. There are other songs we have from him, for instance, shonar kathi rupor kathi / tomar haate dilam and the all-time classic tumi shondhakasher tarar moto / amar mone jolbe.
There is another song, from probably a Bengali movie based on a folk tale. A duet but one does not quite recall the names of the singers (they could be, just could be, M.A. Hamid and Anjuman Ara). The song, lilting in its melody, goes thus: bideshi ek rajar kumar mono kerhe niyechhe / taari haater chhoan lege kolosh bhenge giyechhe. You are, with alacrity as it were, transported back to the era of black and white. And then there are some Urdu songs that you remember for the softness they came wrapped in, even if they were sad in tone and tenor. Pakistan's Munir Husain famously had a song in which the jilted lover is showering curses on the woman who has apparently turned her back on him. Listen to these lines: Khuda kare tera rangeen shabab chhin jaaye / bahar aaye magar tu bahar ko tarse / qarar lootne wale / tu pyar ko tarse.
Ahmed Rushdi's tum ho haseen iqrar karo / ye jhoot hai to inqar karo was in its time a popular number, along with Mehdi Hasan's jaane jaan tu jo kahe / gaoon mae geet nayee / aur phir chahiye kya / saamne tu jo rahe. Among Bengali songs, how many of us truly remember Hemanto's ato din pore tumi gobhir aandhar raate? Or Mehdi Hasan's harano din-er kotha mone porhe jaaye? The Nazrul singer Khaled Hossain once sang, to our huge satisfaction, the song shei chompa nodir teere dekha hobe / abar jodi phagun aashe go phire. Noor Jehan's song le aayee phir kahan par qismat hame kahan se / ye to wohi jagha hai / guzre the hum jahan se…
The writer is Executive Editor, The Daily Star