The Symphonies of War
By Musarrat Rahman
"SWADHIN BANGLA BIPLOBI BETAR KENDRA Theke Bolchhi,” said the voice heard over the radio on the 26th March, 1971, after the night of brutal carnage beyond imagination when the historical Operation Searchlight took place. In the nine months that followed, the Pakistani invaders plunged an entire nation into terror and despair with their merciless killings, raiding houses in the middle of the night, murdering men, women, children and even babies. The historic voice, heard over the radio the day after the war began, ignited a ray of hope in the hearts of everyone - citizens and freedom fighters, and urged them on the path to freedom. An entire people got back their confidence, their courage and their strong optimism because of that radio broadcast and Bangladesh became an independent nation.
A great thing about being a Bengali, other than the obvious reasons, is that our country is still relatively young, therefore our parents' generation still remembers it, the war of liberation. Some of them were still very young; some were our age and fought for our great nation. We tend to forget much of what the freedom fighters did, about all that they gave, including their lives, so that we could have the right to call ourselves Bangladeshis. It's sad, but true: only twice a year do we express our patriotism.
We couldn't possibly imagine what it was like during that time. Hearing the fighter planes overhead, the gunshots, the people fleeing in the middle of the night, the screams of terror and cries of grief as people found out about the death of loved ones.
The Freedom Fighters, our warriors, had it the worst. They were ordinary people, thrust from the comfort of their normal lives and into the middle of a raging war with no proper military training. Without the help of modern technology, it was also pretty hard for them to keep in touch with, and get inspiration from, their loved ones. The love for the country they dreamed of was the only thing that kept them going.
Someone once said music is what feelings sound like. The Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra was a radio broadcasting centre that encouraged and fuelled our great nation to surge forward. They would broadcast everything: drama, news, poems, music and even parodies of the opposing army.
Our soldiers thrived on the music! They would sing the songs to keep their spirits up and to get their engines revved for battle.
39 years later, we barely know the people behind these songs; the ones that gave our men such hope and encouragement. So we have decided to clue you in on the top songs that paved the path to victory!
1. Mora Ekti Phulke Bachabo Bole Juddho Kori - arguably the song most associated with the War of Liberation, it was written by Gobindo Haldar and composed by Apel Mahmood. The song is about how the freedom fighters fought not only for the love of the nation but for independence of every person and thing in Bangladesh.
2. Teer Hara Ei Dhaoyer Shagor - This song, written and composed by Apel Mahmood, is about the struggle for independence, comparing it to the turbulent seas.
3. Joy Bangla Banglar Joy - Written by Gazi Majharul Anowar and composed by Anowar Parvez, the optimistic song is about how we, the country and the nation, would surely win the war.
4. Shono, Ekti Mujiborer Theke - Written by Gauriproshonno Mojumdar and composed by Angshuman Rai, the song is about the independence speech given by our founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and how he inspired the whole nation.
5. Purbo Digante Shurjo Utheche - This famous song was written by Gobindo Haldar and composed by Shomor Das. It was one of the most famous songs of the time, even being labelled the “Shongramer Gaan”. The song is about the sun, red with the blood of the martyrs, rising on a new day in an independent nation.
6. Banglar Hindu, Banglar Boddho, Banglar Christian, Banglar Musolman - also written by Gauriproshonno Majumdar and composed by Shomor Rai. The song is about a united Bangladesh, despite religious differences and urged every citizen, from all walks of life and religion, to take up arms and fight for independence.
7. Karar Oi Louho Kopat - written and composed by our national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, this song is also known as 'Bhangar Gaan'. It was also incredibly inspirational during the British occupation and the independence movement of India. The Rebel Poet is believed to have written this song while he himself was in prison.
8. Nongor Tolo Tolo - written by Nayeem Gohor and composed by Shomor Das is yet another song about weathering the storm of war to gain independence.
9. Bhebo Nago Ma Tomar Chelera - A song about the martyrs, consoling the nation over the countless deaths, written by Mostafizur Rahman and composed by Shomor Das.
10. Rokto Diye Naam Likhechi - written by Abdul Kashem Shondhip and composed by Shujoy Sham it is about how we fought for our independence with the blood of the martyrs.
11. Bangladesh - a song by George Harrison, from the Beatles, who was so moved by the turmoil in Bangladesh that he organised a benefit concert.
12. Song of Bangladesh - another song written by an international musician Joan Baez during the liberation war.
... and of course a patriotic playlist can't be fulfilled without our national anthem “Amar Shonar Bangla” penned by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. A few more songs that became famous after the war, but still belong in the playlist are “O Amar Desher Mati”, “Ami Banglay Gaan Gai” and “Shob Kota Janala”.