Khairul Anam Shakil, besides being immensely popular as a Nazrul Sangeet artiste and educator, has been known as a preserving voice of the art for a long time. As the General Secretary of Bangladesh Nazrul Sangeet Sangstha, he is working hard to retain and promote the original tunes of the art by hosting workshops geared towards young learners all over the country. He is also the Vice President of Chhayanaut. He talks to The Daily Star about his endeavours.
Tell us about Bangladesh Nazrul Sangeet Sangstha.
Bangladesh Nazrul Sangeet Sangstha was founded in order to transmit the correct and original tunes of Nazrul Sangeet on a national scale. Khaled Hossain is the president of the foundation, and prominent artistes such as Yakub Ali Khan, Joseph Kamal Rodrigues and Khilkhil Kazi, the granddaughter of Kazi Nazrul Islam himself among many others are working alongside us. We started off with hosting workshops in Dhaka, but due to the appreciation and feedback that we received, we soon started holding these workshops all over the country.
Could you elaborate on the need to host the said workshops?
I believe that a brief preface is required before I shed light on our activities. During the 80's, prominent Nazrul Sangeet singers in Bangladesh, including the likes of Sudhin Das, Sheikh Lutfor Rahman and Ahsan Morshed noticed that a lot of singers were taking liberties with the tunes that our National Poet had created. Even in West Bengal, where a lot of talented artistes were performing, the preservation of the songs were neglected and many 'distorted' tunes even became popular amongst the masses. Due to that, the mentioned artistes helped create some Swaralipi (notations) to preserve the original tunes, while referring to the oldest records of Nazrul Sangeet made under supervision of the poet himself. That was curated under the Nazrul Academy, which was later undertaken by the Nazrul Institute. However, in the current timeline, we realised that only the notations were not enough to encourage artistes to stick to the original tunes, as there were many confusions about which the correct iterations actually were. This is how we, as a foundation, came to be.
How positive was the response you received from the attendees?
It was overwhelmingly positive, I'd say. The students and upcoming singers of Nazrul Sangeet were very appreciative of the opportunity to learn from over 25 dedicated professionals, who were well versed in orthodox Nazrul Sangeet. We have already visited 13 districts, and plan to visit many more. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Nazrul Institue, and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs for their unending support on their end.
How do you see the future of Nazrul Sangeet in the hands of the new generation of singers?
I have no doubts that the future is very secure, because the young singers have unforeseen potential as artistes. Their interest, curiosity and ability to learn are astonishing. Our job, as seniors, is to give them not only the technical knowledge of singing, but provide guidelines, so that they can grow in the light of the philosophy of Kazi Nazrul Islam.