SAMINA CHOWDHURY The nightingale of our hearts
Known for her melodic voice and hit sensations, Samina Chowdhury mostly sings Modern and Classical songs. Born to Mahmudunnabi and Rashida Chowdhury, Samina's sister, Fahmida Nabi, and brother Pancham are also musicians. Under guidance from her father, she developed herself as a playback contemporary singer. Samina commenced her career as a playback singer in 1981. Her debut song was 'Jonmo Theke Jolchi Mago' from the film Jonmo Theke Jolchi. Her studio album and released songs have become iconic and intertwined with Bengali culture, such as 'Kabita Porar Prohor Eseche','Ekbar Jodi Keu Bhalobasto', and 'Oi Jhinukphota Sagorbelai'. She returned to playback singing through the song "Tomar Gorur Garite Ami Jabo Na", a duet with Andrew Kishore. Her non-playback career includes modern songs and Rabindra Sangeet. Some of her modern songs are Oi Jhinuk Phota Sagorbelai Amar Icche Kore, Kobita Porar Prohor Eseche Rater Nirjoney, Somoy Jeno Kate Na, Phool Phote Phool Jhore etc. She also released a Rabindra Sangeet album in 2009. Samina won the National film award for best female playback singer in 2006.
How did your life of music begin?
I was a good student as a child and wanted to be a doctor, nothing else. Unfortunately, I became sick and the doctor told me not to study too much. Acting, drawing and reciting used to attract me as well. Singing wasn't the main highlight of my skills as a child, but, when I was young, around eleven years old, my relatives almost dragged me to take part in Notun Kuri's song category. I stood first in the competition. Out of joy of winning, there was sadness. There was Alauddin Ali, Feroza Begum, and Samar Das among the mentors. Alauddin uncle picked me and forced me to sing “Jonmo theke jolchi maago” and then “Ekbar jodi keu valobashto”. With my sorrow, the songs turned out to be hits. Then, I sang more hit songs: “Ful fote ful jhore” and “Amar buker moddhekhane”. Thus, I ended up being in music.
When did you sing your most famous song, “Kobita porar prohor”?
It was in 1985, “Kobita porar prohor” became a major hit, along with “Amar gorur garite” and “amai deko na”, “beyman bashi”, “ei jadu ta Jodi shotti hoye jeto”, and many others. All these hit songs made me stick to music – it had gotten hold of me. I realized that this is where I truly belong.
As far as I know, you were offered to act by many directors?
I have acted in dramas, but that was children's drama. I used to do radio dramas, like: “Julius Caesar” and “Ei Shei”. I also used to be a news anchor.
Why didn't you continue acting on TV?
I used to attentively read the scripts. Most of the times, I didn't like them. Then I got a call from Dolly Ibrahim to do a Lux TV commercial. On my own, I passed the opportunity because my face was full of acne. This is just a simple example. Because of so many other reasons, I kept moving away from acting and stuck to music. I still get acting offers. But I am still looking for a good script. If I act, I want to be a great actor, playing memorable roles. You may see me acting on-screen if I get a script that I like.
You started off with playback singing, and then segued to modern. Did you ever feel that you should have stuck to one genre of music?
No! I never felt that way. Film music and Adhunik genre are both my favorite. Don't think that it is because of my father. Film music only gives you an opportunity to act. Film music gives you the chance to sing a song of love, despair, of an old woman or of a young. I never wanted to be stuck into classical music only. Since I have the interest in learning everything around me, I could never be stuck into one particular genre. But I hold deep respect for classical music. If one can learn classical the proper way, the world of music comes in one's grasp. Voice plays an important part here too. One with a strong knowledge in classical music without a good voice won't go further – the music won't touch the heart of the audience.
Do you think you still have time to learn classical? Like Asha Bhosle and Ghulam Ali?
Asha Bhosle and Ghulam Ali's album is one of my favourites. Some musicians here with great knowledge in classical music do offer me to make a duet with them. Some may be way too older than I am or too young, I have no problem doing a classical duet album. In fact if a good opportunity presents itself, I will definitely take it up.
What are you working on right now?
I am doing an album with five Nazrul and five Rabindra Sangeet songs. Also, one of my friends living in the USA who sings very good Rabindra Sangeet has been asking me work on an album. We decided to include only the songs based on “Shakhi” (friends). We are still planning on which songs to include. The album will be called, “Olo Shoin”. There are many plans and works in progress like this. To be honest, not many things have been achieved with too much plan in Bangladesh. I may sound pessimistic; but I often see the future of music to be bleak. I hope I am wrong.
Coming back to first comments that you weren't into music in the beginning – I can't help but wonder, why? I mean, your father is such a renowned singer!
Don't get me wrong! I always liked music. I just used to feel that my sister sings so well, she should be the torch bearer in that respect. And since childhood, I was the quite type. I felt, though acting I could express myself better. By myself, I used to practice acting, reciting poems or even read newspapers as if I am reading news on TV. I guess circumstances were right for me to take up singing as my profession, and you know the rest!
For a while you stopped singing. Why is that?
It was because I was never into politics. I could never express my feelings. I was never into the kind of good communication needed with people in the industry to maintain a good professional career. Therefore, I feel, the place I am in now is only for Allah. There was bad patch in my career when I was almost ostracized for a comment I made. Some artistes didn't want to sing with me. I also made some mistakes – I was angry with some people. Still, I am singing and if at least some of my songs live after I am gone, I have nothing to complain about.
Are you satisfied for what you have achieved so far?
I don't think I have given all I have to give to my fans. Now, at my age, it is the most perfect time for me to sing – my voice is most mature now. I also feel that Bangladeshi music should've spread all over the world. These are all just wishes that I hope to see coming true.
Jonmo Theke Jolchi Mago
Amar Buker Moddhyekhane
Phool Phote Phool Jhore
Ekbar Jodi Keu
Amar Majhe Nei
Kobita Porar Prohor
Ekbar Jodi Keu
NOTABLE PLAYBACK MOVIE SONGS
1981 Saat Bhai Champa
2009 Akash Chhowa Bhalobasa
2007 Daruchini Dweep
2010 Bhalobaslei Ghor Badha Jai Na
2002 Kokhono Megh Kokhono Brishti
2006 Noi No. Bipod Songket
2006 Tumi Achho Hridoye
2006 Rani Kuthir Baki Itihas
2012 Anyo Rokom Bhalobasha