My earliest inspirations were my parents Professor Syed Moqsud Ali and Professor Noorunnahar Fyzennessa, revered academics at the University of Dhaka, both of whom were cultural enthusiasts as well. Chhayanaut came to play a major role in my life when I was only 9. Chhayanaut had a highly vibrant environment with eminent cultural personalities like Quamrul Hassan, Rashid Chowdhury and many others leaving their footprints for the rest to follow. I was fortunate to have had teachers like maestro Sheikh Luthfur Rahman, Sohrab Hossain, Sanjida Khatun, Sudhin Das and the legendary Feroza Begum. My husband, Faruq Hasan Mallick, has also been an inspirational partner. His support and involvement in everything I did meant I could follow my interest with absolute freedom.
Live life to the fullest, you only have one go at it! Live by principles that give you a positive and prosperous way of life. Never stop learning. I also believe in oneness with the Creator. I believe everyone, in their own way, can seek closeness with the Divine and thus find peace of mind, sense of security and a desire to be ethical in life.
VIEWS ON HER PROFESSION
Life is a melody, everything moves in a rhythm as part of a bigger picture. I have tried to follow things that gave me freedom to express myself and be creative – with arts and culture being the string that tied it all together! So I found it enjoyable to sing, often in Chhayanaut's class with people many years my senior, as the environment encouraged self-belief and self-expression. For that reason, I found it relatively 'easy' to set up a designer boutique, because the artwork allowed me to follow my instincts. When it came to working as Editor of the Arts page at The Daily Star, it was again, an environment where I could put words to my thoughts and promote the sense of cultural identity I loved so much about our country. More recently I have started to produce a series of music videos to promote Nazrul with a team of renowned and upcoming artistes in Bangladesh. So although the areas I have worked in were diverse, it had ingredients that were common to all! My advice, if someone asks (!) is – follow your dreams with dedication and don't forget to listen to that voice in your heart.
To name just a few singers who never fail to inspire me - Feroza Begum, Sachin Dev Burman, Afsari Khanam, Devabrata Biswas, Sandhya Mukherjee, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and Ustad Rashid Khan.
I have had a strong interest in movies since childhood. Some of my favourite movies are Golapi Ekhon Train e, Surjo Dighol Bari, Hirok Rajar Deshe, Ashani Sanket, Sunflower, Junoon, Kahani, Omkara, Pothe Holo Deri, PK and 3 Idiots.
Pather Dabi by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay is at the top of my reading list. Shei Shomoy by Sunil Gangyopadhyay, Durbin by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Fated to Love by Kesra Sheraz, Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchel and Nondito Noroke by Humayun Ahmed are some of my favorite novels. Biased as I am, I also found my father's autobiography Shaath Purusher Ithikotha moving as it not only feels nostalgic to see life through his eyes, but the book is more about society's evolution than the story of his forefathers alone.
In one word – music. In whatever form or shape, it is a dream to continue pursuing work in the music world. Besides working in print media, I have started working on both social media and traditional media to produce music videos on Nazrul songs. We call the team “Gems of Nazrul” and it includes a broad mix of artistes, established and upcoming. At The Daily Star, we have been arranging regular programmes “Star Melodies” to celebrate precious old Bengali songs and give a platform to the young talents as well. It's high time that the government and private initiatives are taken to collect and preserve the songs of our Golden Era. The idea of working with a national foundation in the future to promote and preserve our musical heritage appeals a lot to me, if I can find the right partner institution.
There are in fact quite a few. I greatly admire Sanjida Khatun and Waheedul Huq as they are great personalities who prevailed over all odds to successfully spread our Bengali culture across the world.
By Shawreen Rahman