Sohel’s heightened music sense | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 03, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 03, 2008

In Conversation

Sohel’s heightened music sense

Iftekar Hossain Sohel. Photo: Mumit M.

Keyboardist and music director Iftekar Hossain Sohel composes music for artistes like Sabina Yasmin, Runa Laila and Shahanaz Rahmatullah. Sohel is visually impaired. He lost his eyesight in early childhood when he contracted measles-related diarrhoea. The artiste recently spoke to The Daily Star about his initiation in music and more.
"I was introduced to the harmonium when I was too young to realise that I couldn't see. My family moved around a lot as my father had a job that required frequent transfers. However, my music education continued. In Narayanganj, Nitya Saha babu taught me Nazrul Sangeet, Rabindra Sangeet, folk songs, violin, piano, accordion and tabla. Music was considered a suitable profession for me and I was expected to choose the genre I liked best," said Sohel.
"I joined Chhayanat soon after and met the teachers who changed my life -- Sanjida apa (Khatun), Zahidur Rahim, Waheedul Haque, Anjali Roy, Iffat Ara Dewan, Selina Malek and Shammi apa. After my audition, Zahidur Rahim decided I should start straight from second year courses. Sanjida apa asked me to take a class as a substitute teacher when I was in the third or fourth year, and the students liked me so much that I became a regular. I trained in Nazrul Sangeet under Sudhin Das and Sohrab Hossain at the Altaf Mahmood School, where I also taught for a while. And I did a diploma course on classical music from Shilpakala Academy. I became an enlisted accordion player on TV and worked with artistes like Sadi Mohammed.
"After shifting to keyboard, I worked with noted music directors Sheikh Sadi Khan, Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul, Satya Saha and Alam Khan. Then I started performing on stage," the musician recollected.
Sohel is an executive member of the National Alliance of Disabled People's Organisation (NADPO) and general secretary of the Sports and Cultural Society of Disabled People (SCSD).
"My disability has caused me immeasurable suffering throughout my life, and I have done my best to overcome the obstacles I faced. I have earned the respect of those who once underestimated me. I am fighting for the rights of others who are also differently-abled, with support from my wife and two daughters. We lobbied at the Election Commission to have different-abled people registered as voters. I have travelled alone to Hong Kong and London and several other countries without any problem. But in Bangladesh even the most basic 'white-stick' regulations are either ignored or non-existent," he pointed out, "There is a lot of work to do."

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