Iffat Ara Dewan: Bringing gems of Bangla songs to Delhi | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 12, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 12, 2009

Iffat Ara Dewan: Bringing gems of Bangla songs to Delhi

Iffat Ara Dewan

It was as always wonderful catching up with the talented and unassuming singer and painter Iffat Ara Dewan -- this time not at her home in Dhaka but in the precincts of the so-called elite Delhi Gymkhana Club -- of which, luckily, I happen to be a member. Our conversation ranged from her recent concerts in Delhi, to the main organisers, Bengal Foundation and Impresario India, to her eclectic taste in music, to her family and mine and of course common friends at The Daily Star.
But first the facts. Iffat gave concerts at two locations in Delhi -- one at the CCRT Auditorium, Dwarka, which is a little out of the way and the more central India Habitat Centre. Both were musical soirees, which encompassed Rabindra Sangeet and Bangla Puratani Gaan (old classics). I happened to attend the concert at the Habitat Centre.
From the start the audience -- mostly Bengalis -- was entranced by her rendering of Tagore songs such as the devotional “Dhaye jeno mor shokol bhalobasha” and another such song called “Probhu toma lagi ankhi jaagey” to moving love songs -- “Aaji bijon ghorey nishith raatey” and “Noyon mela dekhi.” Alongside were Bangla Puratani Gaan mostly from the 1920s -- originally sung by Angur Bala, Indu Bala and Nidhu Babu's Toppa, among others. She also sang one Nazrul song on request from an eager audience, apart from many other requests.
This correspondent talked to one or two members of the audience such as M. Basu Roy, who said, “ It was a wonderful concert. I enjoyed the selection of songs as well as the intensity of the devotional compositions.” One also noticed a smattering of foreigners in the audience who presumably were there because they had read Tagore's lyrical poems.
The credit for the superb concerts must of course go to Bengal Foundation and Impresario India, which have been at the forefront in the promotion of arts -- the former in Bangladesh and the latter in India. Says Iffat: “Bengal Foundation made the effort to send me here and arrangements so that the programme could be so beautifully organised. Impresario lent support to the logistics such as the booking of the auditoriums.”
And of course, she said, she was backed up ably by the two Kolkata-based artistes Shubhayu Sen Majumdar (on the esraj) and Bablu Ghosh (tabla), while she was accompanied by Aniruddha Chowdhury from Delhi on the keyboard.
I had the fortune to meet up with Iffat two days after her highly successful concerts. She was as modest as ever about the overwhelming audience response to her singing.
As for her taste in music, it ranges from Lata Mangesh-kar, to Nat King Cole's romantic numbers such as “Autumn Leaves,” “Love is a Many Splendoured Thing” to Frank Sinatra's “My Way.” And, she points out, she enjoys recent mellow Hindi film songs like “In Dino...Hai Tujhe Ijaazat Kar Le Tu Bhi Mohabbat” (from the film “Life in a Metro”).

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