A GUIDING MELODY | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 12, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:03 AM, November 12, 2020

A GUIDING MELODY

Renowned singer Fahmida Nabi continues mesmerising her audience with her sweet melodic voice and versatility. Over the years, the singer released various albums starting from classical to modern songs. The artiste has been honoured with many prestigious accolades, including the ‘National Film Award’ as the Best Female Playback Singer in 2007 for the song ‘Lukochuri Lukochuri Golpo’. In this interview with Rafi Hossain, the singer talked about her life achievements, family and music.

Rafi Hossain: Welcome to Uncensored with Rafi Hossain. Today, we have with us my dear friend and everyone's beloved singer and composer, Fahmida Nabi.

Fahmida Nabi: Thank you for having me here! I also want to thank the audience for being with us today.

Rafi Hossain: As a singer who has been a part of the mainstream media for many years now, what do you have to say about the current state of the music industry?

Fahmida Nabi: Music is something that provides people with comfort and happiness. Music is a form of art, and looking at it or its success through the number of views or likes received would be illogical. You can't judge the talent or contribution of a musician this way, and an artist will never view music in such a manner either. Only businessmen looking for profit might see it that way. For instance, I was listening to a song by Shirley Bassey recently, and it had very few views. However, you definitely cannot use that to say that she is an unsuccessful artist. I think this obsession with the number of likes and views is a very new, and incorrect, phenomenon. If a song is truly exceptional, it will stand the test of time and remain a favorite in audience's hearts even in the long run. 

Rafi Hossain: Your family has always been heavily involved with music, including your sister, Samina Chowdhury. Do you want to share anything about that? 

Fahmida Nabi: Aside from being my sister, I really admire Samina as a singer. She puts her love into her songs and sings them with charisma, and she always captivates her audience. I can't think of a single song of hers that have been received poorly. This takes a lot of effort and hard work.

Rafi Hossain: Is there ever a sense of competition since you both are in the same industry?

Fahmida Nabi: When we work together for a duet, our goal is to sing the song perfectly. We hope that our song will be well received by the audience, and I believe they are as Chiquitita, for example, gained a lot of popularity. Duets are about teamwork, and so the focus is always on our efforts to get a satisfactory result, rather than a sense of competition. 

Rafi Hossain: Does your family provide feedback on your songs?

Fahmida Nabi: My family is my biggest critique. My mother, especially, points out even the smallest of flaws. Other than that, Samina and Antora also give their feedback and try to highlight areas that can be improved. My daughter is also a very big critique of mine. In my album where I sang Rabindra Sangeet, she helped me find my mistakes and perfect the song. 

Rafi Hossain: Usually, when singing someone else's song, everyone brings their own twist to it. What are your thoughts on that?

Fahmida Nabi: I think that is quite natural as it is not possible to copy or sing a song exactly the way the artist has sung it. It's rather a sign that someone has treated the song as their own, and added their unique style to it. I'm sure this happens when we sing our father's songs. I remember going to Shahnaz Rahmatullah's house many years back, where she asked me to sing one of her songs. I unintentionally sang one part slightly differently, which she pointed out and said that it meant the song had touched me deeply. It was amazing to have received such a compliment from an exceptional singer like her. Similarly, I love when someone sings my songs in their own way. Someone might even like that version better! It doesn't matter how the song has been sung. What's truly rewarding is when it has been sung with affection and care. 

Rafi Hossain: How many albums of yours have been released?

Fahmida Nabi: I have sixteen solo albums. Other than that, there are many duets, mix albums, and YouTube singles released as well. Among these, Dupurer Ekla Pakhi is very special as everyone involved with it worked very hard and gave their best. It was also a sort of turning point for me as I was a little distant from the industry during that time. The album had slow and sad songs, and it was released during a difficult time for many people. I believe it resonated with the audience and their emotions, and that is why it was well received by them as well.

Rafi Hossain: Unlike many established artists, you work quite frequently with new people in the industry. What is your philosophy behind that?

Fahmida Nabi: I always enjoy a challenge. When working alongside another artist, I don't think about how long they have been in the industry. What matters to me is if their sense and choice of music matches mine, and if we can connect. If it does, then the result will undoubtedly be great. I worked with many new artists like Nipo, Tomal, Shajib. I even worked with Borno on their first song. They usually have new and interesting ideas, and applying it to my knowledge and experience works really well. Moreover, I try not to establish any sense of seniority, but rather form a friendship and connection with them.

Rafi Hossain: Could you share you experience with Selim Al Deen sir?

Fahmida Nabi: I believe it will take some time for an audience to be developed for Selim Al Deen sir's songs. Initially, I could not interpret their meaning accurately either. But, with experience, I understood that they were about life and living it simply. When I did understand and connect with them, it suddenly felt much easier to sing them. I constantly try to apply sir's teaching in my life and work. I am forever indebted to him. Even during his last days, he asked his assistant to tell me to add a line to one of his songs, which was a farewell. He said that it would be me who would deliver his songs to the masses.  

Rafi Hossain: Lucky bhai always praised you all. How was your experience learning from him?

Fahmida Nabi: Samina learned to play the harmonium like piano chords from Lucky chacha. He gave us his songs orally, and asked us to share them with the public. The last song he composed is in one of my albums. He gave us his love, teachings, and trust, for which we are truly grateful. He truly loved music, and surrounded himself with it until his last days.

Rafi Hossain:Tell us about the song 'Lukochuri'. 

Fahmida Nabi: When I was first approached to sing Lukochuri composed by Debojyoti Mishra, I was surprised. I hadn't been singing for films at that time, and it was an exceptionally beautiful song. The recording was delayed by a year, and I was eagerly waiting for it. Later, it was loved by the audience and was a turning point in my career as well. I even won the National Film Award for The Best Female Playback Singer for it. Ongshobisesh, similarly, is a very special song. The track for the song was changed ten times! Enamul Karim Nirjhar is a perfectionist, and he wanted proper enunciation, and ensured that the music did not overshadow the song itself. 

Rafi Hossain:I find you to be very inspiring. Where do you get your strength and perseverance?

Fahmida Nabi: I achieved my strength through my experiences. I learn new lessons as I go through life every day. I think that is essential for everyone. My career has also helped me develop this strength, as I have had to face many personal obstacles, but still had to continue pursuing my work and giving it my best. Rather than suffering during my struggles, I try to learn from them. My daughter, Anmol, is also a source of my strength. In life, she grounds me. I want to pass this strength onto her. 

Rafi Hossain:It was great to have you here today. Thank you so much for being with us.

Fahmida Nabi: I had a lovely time as well, since I enjoy discussing music and the arts in general. You called me a fighter and praised me for my strength, but I want to tell the audience that I am not the only one. Especially during this time, everyone is persevering, and I would only ask them to take things easy, be cheerful, and to love themselves. I want to thank everyone for being here today.

 

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