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Nazrul Islam and Abbasuddin-a pioneering duo

Thursday, August 27, 2009

33rd Death Anniversary of the National Poet

Down memory lane with Ferdousi Rahman

Syeda Shamin MortadaEid-ul-Fitr is celebrated with joy and fervour and the occasion is incomplete without the song, “O mon Ramjaner oi rojar sheshey elo khushir Eid.” This song has a rich history as it played a crucial role in bringing about a cultural renaissance among Bengali Muslims.

According to Ferdousi Rahman, the daughter of Abbasuddin Ahmed and a renowned artiste of Nazrul Sangeet and Bhawaiya songs: “In those days Abba was singing in Kolkata with HMV; he had also done various songs of Nazrul by that time. He wished to sing Islamic songs and told Nazrul about his desire to record Islamic songs like the qawalis which were greatly popular at the time. In those days Muslim society considered music, singing and even listening to music a sacrilege. Bhagabati Babu, the rehearsal manager of Gramophone Company, was approached, but he angrily rejected the idea. At a suitable moment, Bhagabati was requested again and this time he gave his consent.”

Smiling, Ferdousi continues, “Together Nazrul and Abbasuddin sat with paan and cha (betel leaf and tea) and Nazrul composed the song within a matter of half an hour. The song was then ready and Nazrul taught Abbasuddin the song the very next day. The recording of the song was done using only harmonium and tabla. The song became an instant hit and this marked the beginning of the era of Islamic songs. These songs had an electrifying effect on both the Hindus and Muslims and as a result even the Hindu artistes started singing Islamic songs using Muslim names.”

Referring to Nazrul and the chemistry he shared with Abbasuddin, Ferdousi states, “The Rebel Poet used his music and poems as a major way of disseminating revolutionary ideas. A unique lyricist and music composer, each of his songs is like a beautiful picture. He had in-depth ideas about all the raagas and his writings spread from the patriotic to ghazals, from Hamd Nath to Bhajan, Kirtaan and love songs.

He had a keen understanding of both Hinduism and Islam and that is how he could compose such classic masterpieces.”

“Nazrul Islam and Abbasuddin were a triumphant duo; Nazrul with his inspirational songs and poems and Abasuddin with his melodious voice complemented each other. Nazrul was so close to the family that he named my elder brother Mostafa Kamal Dodul which later became Dulu.” Ferdousi further states, “In my mother's memoirs I read about the poet's hearty laughter, which echoed an audible expression of happiness.” Ferdousi continues, “Even when I went to perform Haj, I was thinking about the great poet and his songs. He never visited these places, yet by reading his poems and listening to his songs one would say he had seen both Mecca and Medina and met the Prophet (PBUH) personally.”

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