Today (December 11) marks the 86th birth anniversary of Khan Ataur Rahman (better known as Khan Ata) a celebrated film actor, director, producer, screenplay writer, music composer, and singer of the country. He was renowned for his role in the film “Jibon Theke Neya” (1970). In this film, his rendition of the song “E Khancha Bhangbo Ami Kemon Kore” echoed the national psyche on Bangladesh's Liberation War.
Khan Ata's daughter Rumana Islam, a singer, recalls her father: “Abba would always make us listen to all good songs that included, Panchokobir gaan, classical, Mira Bhajan and many more. He lay emphasis on our being good human beings. He would protest strongly against injustice and was a maverick; he was benevolent to the common and the downtrodden people. He advised us to take to music as a means of perseverance and not as a means of earning bread. We grew up in a strict environment. Despite being a bit of a bohemian, my father would seriously perform his responsibilities towards his sons and daughters. Abba wanted us to devote our time to studies. My father was a versatile genius. He is my hero. I feel his proper evaluation at national level is due. That's why I got admitted to BUET. But I couldn't do away with music. A certain class of music enthusiasts appreciate my renditions, which is enough recognition for me.“
“I recorded songs “Mayer Moto Apon Keho Nai”, “Mon Majhi Tor Boitha Ne Rey”, “Haire Amar Mon Matano Desh” and “Jadi Ar Dekha Nai Hoy” for my father's three films – “Din Jaye Kotha Thake”, “Danpitey” and “Ekhono Onek Raat”. Baba used to teach me how to put apt expressions while recording songs for the films according to the characterisation. I got BACHASAS Award for my song “Jadi Ar Dekha Nai Hoy”. If Baba were alive, I would continue to learn many things from him. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” adds Rumana Islam.
Khan Ata attended Dhaka Collegiate School, Dhaka College, and Dhaka University, completing a Bachelor of Science degree. Rahman was obsessed with films. After enrolling in Dhaka Medical College, a career he later decided not to pursue, he made an attempt to escape from home and join films. He had only Rs 60 on him. Accidentally his brother-in-law spotted Rahman in the Rail Station. He was forced to go home.
But the rebellious Rahman soon left Dhaka University in 1949 and ran away from home for the second time. This time he went to Bombay (Mumbai). In 1950 Khan Ataur Rahman went to Karachi and took a job as news presenter for Radio Pakistan. There he met another notable Bengali media personality Fateh Lohani. Khan Ata was very interested in films and started taking music lessons from renowned Pakistani Sarangi player Jawahari Khan. After several days Fateh Lohani moved to London. In 1952 Khan Ata went to London as well. There he performed as a singer and actor in several Bengali programmes. He met artist SM Sultan and helped with his savings to buy art supplies for the artist. Rahman and his companions also made arrangements for displaying and selling Sultan's paintings.
Rahman studied in the Netherlands when he was awarded a UNESCO fellowship in 1954. Thereafter, he worked as a teacher in London but also took to the stage for several years. In 1956, he returned home and starred in a film titled “Jago Hua Savera” directed by AJ Karder. He played many roles with notable Bengali actress Tripti Mitra. In 1963 he made his directorial debut with the film “Onek Diner Chena”, and continued making many notable films like “Nawab Sirajuddaula” (1967), “Saat Bhai Champa” (1968), “Arun Barun Kironmala” (1968), “Abar Tora Manush Haw” (1973), “Sujon Sokhi” (1976) and “Ekhono Onek Raat” (1997).
In addition to acting, Khan Ataur Rahman was a songwriter and a timeless composer for many films with over 500 compositions, some of which remain popular.
He also acted in many films – “Jago Hua Savera” (1957), “E Desh Tomar Amar” (1959), “Kokhono Asheni” (1961), “Kancher Deyal” (1963), “Saat Bhai Chompa” (1968), “Moner Moto Bou” (1969), “Jibon Theke Neya” (1970), “Abar Tora Manush Ho” (1973) and “Sujon Sokhi” (1975)
For his outstanding contributions, he received many awards including, Pakistan Film Festival Award, Nigar Award, International film festival awards at Moscow and Tashkent and National Film Award of Bangladesh.