It has been seven years since noted singer Shahnaz Rahmatullah withdrew from the public eye, but her mesmerising vocals remain beloved across generations. Today is her birthday, and despite the specialty of the occasion, the artiste prefers to keep the attention off her.
“At this stage of my life, the priority is quite different. I find myself turning more towards prayers and helping those around me. On this day I have arranged meals to be prepared for an orphanage,” she said of her plans.
The artiste was born in Dhaka, to M Fazlul Haque and Aasia Haque. Under her mother's watchful grooming, Shahnaz was taught singing as a child, and gained public recognition from a young age. Her first professional experience began at the age of 11, playback singing for “Notun Shuur” (1963), and appeared on television from 1964. What followed after was an illustrious career spanning decades, where she was also noted for singing ghazals. Her accomplishments include the Ekushey Padak, National Film Awards, Bangladesh Shilpakala Award, and many other honours.
To her family she is lovingly known as Shaheen, and her childhood birthdays were arranged with special care. “My mother used to cook pulao and other special dishes, which my siblings and I relished with great delight,” Shahnaz reminisced.
Despite having led such an important career, the singer is determined to stay in retirement. “I made the decision with no regrets,” she informed, “when I said to myself I did not want to sing anymore, I never felt conflicted with the thought. I wish to remain steadfast in the path I have chosen now.”