Born into a family with a rich cultural background, Kajol Ibrahim used to go to Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA) with her mother, Badrunnessa Andullah, on the weekends. While her mother trained in music, Kajol lingered near the dance room, emulating the moves of the dancers. One day, Rahiza Khanum Jhunu took notice of Kajol and predicted that the young girl would become one of the most successful dancers of her time.
Kajol graduated with a diploma in classical dance (Kathak) from BAFA. Her teacher was Samar Bhattacharjee. Later in her career, she learned Bharatnatyam and Manipuri from well-known dancer Baburam Singh. She also trained under GA Mannan and played the role of Shaju, the heroine of the dance drama, Nokshi Kanthar Math, with Mannan as Rupai, the male lead. Besides Nokshi Kanthar Math, some of her notable works on the stage and television include Chitrangada, Hajar Tarer Bina, Badol Borishana, Rajpath Janopath and Albamer Patay. A recipient of several national awards, Kajol took Bangladeshi dance to the world stage. She toured extensively in Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and other parts of the world as a leading member of the dance delegation. Kajol went on a hiatus from the public media from 1984, to focus on the upbringing of her children, but she continued as a dance director and teacher. She sees an abundance of talent, passion and potential in the young and promising dancers of today, and hopes for their success.
The dance drama, Meera, which was recently staged by Nrityanchal at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, was Kajol’s first stage show in 35 years. Directed by renowned Indian dancer and choreographer Sukalyan Bhattacharya, the dance drama is based on Meera Bai’s life. Kajol essayed the role of Meera, while Shamim Ara Nipa and Sukalyan Bhattacharya played the roles of Radha and Krishna respectively. Shibli Mohammad played the roles of Ayan Ghosh and Shamrat Akbar.
“I was in Kolkata when Sukalyan, the director, talked about Meera, with me. I never thought I will be dancing again after so many years, but I fell in love with the character of Meera and I felt that it was an intriguing and a suitable role for me,” says Kajol. “Sukalyan had faith in me. I was awestruck by his creativity and attention to details. He portrayed the themes of the story in a beautiful yet simplistic way.”
She further spoke about some of her memorable experiences as a dancer. Tagore exponent Atiqul Islam inspired her greatly. She recalls that after one of the main dancers had dropped out of the troupe, Islam, who was a program director and teacher at BAFA at the time, was looking for a replacement for the lead role in Chitrangada. “He asked me to perform on the song, Amar Angey Angey Ke Bajaye Bashi. Seemingly, he was impressed by the expressions that I came up with for that piece,” she explains.
In 1977, Kajol performed with the iconic dance exponent Gawhar Jamil in China before a large audience. During the performance, as she was twirling from one corner of the stage to another, Kajol broke her toenail. Although she bled on the stage, she carried on with the performance till the end.
Kajol‘s performance as Meera earned her praises from the audience and her well-wishers and she is delighted with the success of the project. “I was quite nervous before the performance, but from the moment that I stepped on to the stage, I felt an immense sense of belonging,” smiles Kajol. “There was a thunderstorm on the day of the show. Despite that, the auditorium was full of people. Those who could not get a seat were willingly standing up to watch. I am grateful to everyone for all the adulation.” Sukalyann D Entourage is set to present the India chapter of Meera in the coming days. Kajol Ibrahim, along with Shamim Ara Nipa and Shibli Mohammed, will join the group from Dhaka. They will perform all over India and other parts of the world.