Vol. 4 Num 327 Fri. April 30, 2004  

Fahim voices his opinions
'A wider platform for Tagore singers is required'

From the age of 10, Fahim Hossain Chowdhury has been learning music in his hometown Faridpur from his gurus Babu Pranbondhu Saha and Selim Majumder. His passion in music led him to develop a keen interest in Tagore songs in particular, around 1967. 'I was around 15-16 years old, when I became attracted to Rabindranath's compositions,' he said. 'Around 1972, my interest grew into a full fledged passion and that's when I actually began to sing with confidence.'

He adds, 'I have not stopped learning Rabindra Sangeet or about Tagore himself. I learnt a lot from the prominent Tagore artistes in Bangladesh, namely Kalim Sharafi, Ajit Ray, Sanjida Khatun, Tapan Mahmud and many others.'

Also running a business, Fahim is one of the senior artistes on both television and radio. 'On several occasions, I have sung on BTV, ATN Bangla, Channel I, and am privileged to perform in most of the Tagore programs held nationally.'

In 1975, as a university student, Fahim sang Dost amra duijon as a playback for the film Dost Dushman. 'Back then, I was young and always full of enthusiasm. Getting a chance to sing playback was a major achievement,' he reminisces. 'However, I didn't sing any more after that, even though I did get a few more offers from the film industry. The compositions do not complement my voice, neither do they complement my image as an artiste.'

Pondering upon the niche created in the country today by Tagore compositions, Fahim stated that the platform for Rabindra Sangeet should have been much better in Dhaka. 'The government can encourage this sector if they want to. It merely organises two shows on 25 Baisakh (Tagore's birth anniversary) and 22 Srabon, (Tagore's death anniversary)' Fahim said. 'In our neighbouring countries, where Tagore songs are very popular, private companies come forward to sponsor these shows. However, in our country, band music seems to get a lot of attention from the sponsors, which rather should be diverted more for the development of our culture.'

The cultural field in our country shows several signs of disarray. 'We don't have a proper auditorium or a hall to conduct our programmes and even if we do they are extremely expensive for a group like ours to afford,' He said. 'On one hand, the Shilpakala Academy is still under construction in terms of a proper stage for musicians. On the other hand, the National Museum has absurd rules, which says that the stage designing and planning inside the venue for a show would have to begin from 3 pm and extra money would have to be paid to the authorities after 9.00 pm. These kinds of rules don't exist anywhere in the world. A musical show would naturally begin at around 7.00 pm, especially during the summer season.'

According to Fahim, Rabindra and Nazrul singers are rarely encouraged to perform abroad, other than Kolkata. 'Our duty is to promote and develop our culture in other countries. However, the authorities fail to realise it,' he says. He also adds that it is really a disgrace when, for the sake of fame, young musicians distort Rabindra sangeet and remix them resulting into a different picture all together. 'There is a set of guidelines called the swaralipi based on which Rabindra sangeet is sung.' Fahim asserted. 'Nobody has the right to distort these age old compositions.'

Vice President of the Bangladesh Rabindra Sangeet Shilpi Shangstha, Fahim actively organises Tagore programmes in the city. 'As always, this year from June 5 to June 7, we will be holding the three-day Rabindra sangeet Utshob at the Shishu Academy,' he pointed out.

Fahim had released a Rabindra Sangeet album around 7 years ago, titled Esho esho amaar ghore esho and plans to do more in the future. Music has been in Fahim's blood since he was a young boy. His commitment to singing will ensure that he remains a name to reckon with.

Fahim Hossain Chowdhury