Abdul Jabbar, who enthralled filmgoers with songs like “O Re Neel Doriya”, “Pitch Dhala Ei Poth Ta Re” and “Tumi Ki Dekhechho Kobhu” and inspired the entire nation during the 1971 Liberation War with patriotic songs like “Joy Bangla Bangla'r Joy” and “Salam Salam Hajar Salam”, passed away yesterday. He was 79.
The Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra artiste, who had been suffering from liver, kidney and prostate complications for over a year, breathed his last around 8:00am at the capital's Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and Hospital. His body was kept at the hospital mortuary.
People from all walks of life would pay their last tributes to the legendary singer on the premises of Central Shaheed Minar from 11:00am today.
Following the Zohr prayers, his namaz-e-janaza would be held at Central Mosque, University of Dhaka. Later, Jabbar would be laid to eternal rest either at Martyred Intellectual Graveyard in Mirpur or on the premises of National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam's grave in Shahbagh.
Born in Kushtia in 1938 and inspired by his mother, Jabbar plunged headlong into the world of music. In his teens, he played both football and cricket and entertained the spectators with his sonorous voice on the same ground after winning matches. Completing his SSC examination in 1956, Jabbar formally learned music from Ustad Osman Gani and Ustad Lutfel Haque.
In 1958, he became an enlisted singer at Bangladesh Betar (radio) and did playback for Bangla films from 1962. In 1964 when Bangladesh Television (BTV) embarked on its journey, he was signed up as his fame had grown by leaps and bounds in the meantime.
The very first song he sang and composed for Bangladesh Betar was “Hariye Elam Kothay Bolo Amar Shey Shathitirey”, written by poet Azizur Rahman. Along with Ferdausi Rahman he playbacked in a duet “Tumi Achho Kachhey” for the film “Notun Shur”, directed by Ehtesham and composed by Robin Ghosh.
In the film “Etotuku Aasha”, Jabbar playbacked for the popular song “Tumi Ki Dekhechho Kobhu”, written and composed by Dr. Muniruzzaman and Satya Shaha respectively. That was also his debut song to air on BTV.
Jabbar is credited as a playback singer of the '60s and '70s. Among his recorded film tracks, “O Rey Neel Doriya” (Sareng Bou); “Pitch Dhala Ei Poth Ta Re” (Pitch Dhala Poth); “Khelaghar Barey Barey Keno Bhengey Jaay” (Chhadmabeshi); “E Prithibi Amar Proshno Shono” (Nacher Putul); “Dukkho Korona Bondhu Tomra” (Aalor Michhil); “Amon Korey Bolo Na Go Tumi” (duet with Runa Laila in the film Iman) are immensely popular.
Jabbar was also a freedom fighter. He inspired the singers of Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra to such an extent that they ultimately depicted the freedom fighters as being symbolic of an epic struggle for liberty.
In 1971, he met the legendary Indian singer Hemanto Mukhopadhyay in Mumbai (then Bombay) and worked tirelessly to raise public opinion in favour of the independence of Bangladesh.
“My relationship with Bangabandhu was that of a son to a father,” said Jabbar in a 2009 interview with The Daily Star.
Jabbar sang the first song of Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, “Joy Bangla Bangla'r Joy”, written and composed by Gazi Mazharul Anwar and Anwar Parvez respectively. The other patriotic songs rendered and composed by Jabbar during the pre and post-Liberation period were “Salam Salam Hajar Salam”, “Mujib Baiya Jao Rey” and “Banglar Shadhinata Anlo Ke Mujib Mujib”.
Jabbar received many prestigious awards for his outstanding works. He won, among others, Bangabandhu Swarna Padak (1973), Ekushey Padak (1980), Shadhinata Padak (1996), Zahir Raihan Chalachchitra Purashkar, BACHSAS Award and Mother Teresa Award.
Titled “Kothaye Amar Neel Doriya”, Abdul Jabbar's lone album of original songs was released on April 13 this year under the label of Mom Music Centre. Of them, he often sang the song “Ekhaney Amar Padma Meghna” at live shows.
“Abdul Jabbar wanted TV channels to air four of his recorded songs after his death -- 'O Rey Neel Doriya', 'Tumi Ki Dekhechho Kobhu', 'Tara Bhora Raat-e' and 'Amake Tomader Mon-e Na Thakleo Amar E Gaan Mon-e Thabkbe',” said Golam Sarawar, who composed and directed music for Jabbar's solo album.
“Abdul Jabbar was a national treasure. He has left us, but the songs he left behind are the ones we can cherish and use for days to come. He was the kind of artiste that singers from the younger generation can take a lot of inspiration from. We won't ever find another vocalist with such a pure voice, and I feel we hadn't even explored his full potential. That was our shortcoming,” said Azad Rahman, eminent composer and music director.
The iconic singer has left behind his wife, two sons, a daughter and a host of relatives and fans.