Celebrated musician and revered Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra artiste, Rafiqul Alam has been making waves in the Bangladeshi music industry through his playback and 'adhunik' songs for decades. The Daily Star caught up with the renowned musician for a chat recently to talk about his experience with Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, latest works, expectations from the new year, the upcoming generation of artistes in the industry and more.
Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra artistes are regarded as the all-time gems of Bangladesh's music industry. Could you tell us about some of the highlights of your experiences as an artiste for Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra?
Working for Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra in itself was a monumental feat. Our aim was to ignite passion and dedication for the Liberation War in our fellow citizens through fiercely motivating songs. My first performance for the Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra was the song Nongor Tolo Tolo. A few months after the war began, we were asked to prepare a number of new tracks, and I was given the opportunity to sing a solo Jai Jodi Jak Pran, written by Abu Hena Mustafa Kamal. We sang many memorable songs, mostly in choir, including Shaat Koti Aaj Prohori Prodeep, written by my elder brother, Sarwar Jahan, and the last song aired by Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra – the first song for independent Bangladesh – Bijoy Nishan Urchhe Oi.
Which projects are you currently working on?
I have recorded twelve adhunik songs in the past couple of months, composed by various music directors. All the tracks will be releasing on YouTube soon. I felt like work was quite stagnant even three years ago, but the industry has become more active in the recent past. The popularity of online platforms and establishment of intellectual property rights in Bangladesh have definitely facilitated this boom in the music industry.
What are your expectations from the new generation of artistes who have entered the Bangladeshi music industry?
I have noticed that the newer lot of musicians are giving in to the publicity hype and only focusing on covering songs by famous musicians, instead of creating original work. As a result, most of their career trajectories are not reflecting their true potential. There has been an abundance of fresh talent with stellar vocals and skills in recent years, but their fixation with getting under the limelight as quickly as possible is also leading to stunted career growth in the long run. My expectation from them would be to invest enough time and effort into creating original content to offer their own individual flavor of music to the audience.