In Transition: Farida Yasmin (1940-2015)
“Jani Na Furaye Jodi E Modhurati”, she sang in the 1962 film “Raja Elo Shohore”, that brought her immense popularity, but little did Farida Yasmin know her own career, so rich in promise, would meet a rather abrupt halt not too long after that. While her sisters -- Sabina and Nilufar went on to become icons of Bangla music, the eldest of the Yasmin sisters walked away from the microphone right after her marriage (with famed adolescent thriller writer Qazi Anwar Hossain, creator of the Masud Rana series), to take the helm of her family.
Their mother, Mouluda Khatun, was a keen singer herself, and in times harsh for women looking to tread the cultural arena, she wanted to live her dream through her daughters. Born on February 3, 1940 at her maternal grandparents' house in India's Murshidabad, Farida Yasmin took her first lessons from her mother and from Durgaprasad Roy, and later trained under Ustad Moti Miya when they moved to Narayanganj, Dhaka. It was in 1959 that she sang her first playback, in the 1959 film “E Desh Tomar Amar” (Ehtesham's first movie, starring Sumita Devi, Anis, Subhash Dutta), and came to limelight with “Jani Na Furaye Jodi E Modhurati”. In the 1962 film “Chanda” (the first Urdu film from Dhaka), her song “Saiyan Bedardi Mora Dard Na Jane” and “O Pardesi Aaja” (another version of the same song was sung by Ferdausi Rahman) took her to higher grounds of popularity.
Her voice became one of the most recognisable ones on radio, alongside Ferdausi Rahman and Anjuman Ara, equally apt in Bangla and Urdu songs and ghazals. “Phooler Hawa Laglo”, “Tumi Jiboney Moroney Amaye Apon Korechho”, “Tomar Pothe Kushum Chorrate Esechi”, “Khushi'r Neshaye Ajke Bujhi Matal Holam”, “Ogo Bondhu Tumi Jiboner Khelaghor” are only some of her many memorable songs.
After moving away from the music scene, Farida Yasmin used to only perform at family gatherings and such, and rarely appeared on TV. About her extended hiatus from music, the artiste said in an interview with The Daily Star in 2008: “I started doing playback for films before I got married. Things changed, as I got more involved in domestic life. I had little children to take care of. Moreover, I am the kind of person who wants to do everything systematically. If you're a playback singer, you may need to be at the studio whenever you're called. It was difficult for me to concentrate on both my career and family. I had to choose and I preferred family.”
Old age had caught up to her in recent times, and she had suffered a heart attack at the BIRDEM hospital (after being admitted due to kidney complications) and went into a coma, from which she never woke up. She had also been suffering from Thalassemia, and required regular dialysis.
To the connoisseurs of music from the '60s, Farida Yasmin remained the artiste that could have been. Not many of today's generation know of Farida Yasmin, but that is because of the sacrifice she made, to raise three kids and a family. But those who remember her, do so with fond memories that remain untarnished.