Kalim Sharafi passes away | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 03, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 03, 2010

Kalim Sharafi passes away


Cultural revolutionary and prominent singer Kalim Sharafi passed away at early hours yesterday at his Baridhara residence in the capital. He was 86.
Renowned for Rabindra Sangeet and Gono Sangeet, he took to cultural front to fight communalism, imperialism and crimes against humanity.
He was laid to eternal rest at Mirpur Martyred Intellectuals' Graveyard around 10:00pm.
Earlier, as his body was taken to Central Shaheed Minar around 6:00pm, several thousand people irrespective of their class, profession and political affiliation gathered there and froze into condoling silence.
A 14-member team of Bangladesh police gave him gun salutes. People including representatives from President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid their last tribute to the lifelong fighter by placing wreath.
Both the premier and the president gave special message paying tribute to Sharafi, a freedom fighter and one of the founding members of Bangladesh Television (BTV) and Bangladesh Betar.
Born at Birbhum in West Bengal in 1924 in a Pir (spiritual leader) family, where practice of music was forbidden, Kalim Sharafi began developing revolutionary characteristics since early childhood with his love for music, defying his family tradition of treading along the path of religious rituals.
Instead, Kalim trod along the cultural way for making people politically conscious, especially during the struggle against British colonial rule, the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971 and movement launched in independent Bangladesh in 1991 against the war criminals.
Naturally, Gono Sangeet was the life of Kalim Sharafi to achieve his goal. He, however, attained prominence among Rabindra Sangeet singers of the Indian subcontinent introducing a new style of rendition.
Sharafi's pro-mass activism, his lifelong pursuit, actually began in 1940 with his participation in “Hallwell Movement”. Police arrested him in 1942 for participating in 'Quit India' movement. It was in jail where Sharafi's attention was drawn to Tagore's song.
He got his first lesson of politics from comrade Muzaffer Ahmed, revolutionary and pioneer of communist movement in India, in 1943, the time of famine when Sharafi sang Nobojiboner Gan (song of new life) traveling across the country.
Later he joined Indian Popular Theatre Association (IPTA), also known as Bharatiyo Gononatya Shangha, a cultural platform, and continued organising music and drama programmes against imperialism and communal riot.
His dedication to IPTA allowed so little time for his personal life that he had to leave his medical study halfway.
During the Calcutta (now Kolkata) riot he had to take refuge with Debabrata Biswas in 1946. Sharafi migrated to Dhaka in 1950 and joined Bangladesh Betar. Pakistan detective branch blacklisted him for singing pro-mass songs and banned him from the radio after martial law was imposed by Ayub Khan.
During liberation war, he participated in different programmes in the UK and US to drum up support for the war. In 1983 he established music academy 'Shangeet Bhaban,' a Gano Sangeet organisation. He served as its Principal till death.
He also organised and established different theatre groups, namely 'Bahurupi' and 'Prantik' and performed as a playback singer, Adhunik (modern) singer and music director. He also directed an autobiographical documentary and a film named “Sonar Kajol.”
Sharafi, an adviser to Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, a body that champions the demand for the war crimes trial, received numerous awards including the national award Ekushey Padak in 1986.
Sharafi's life is a sketch drawn out of the ink of love for mass people and it can be summarised from Sharafi's own book Smriti Amrito, where he wrote, “I have received so much love from people all over. It is this love that has kept me breathing till now.”

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