Vol. 4 Num 350 Tue. May 25, 2004  

Celebrating 105th anniversary of our National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam
'Artistes should conceive the true meaning of a song'--Shabnam

Shabnam Mushtari is one of the very important names in the genre of Nazrul Sangeet. From the late 1960s she has emerged as one of the major stars in this art form.

Shabnam observes that any good songs, especially Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Sangeet, essentially contain a literary sense. 'It is most important for an artiste to conceive that sense or feeling of the song,' she asserts. 'Until one cannot comprehend the true meaning of a song, which is contained in its lyrics, it is not possible to render the song perfectly.'

Shabnam teaches a few students under the Poet Talim Hossain Trust every year, although on an irregular basis. And she puts emphasis on teaching those aspects of Nazrul Sangeet, which, she believes, are 'lyric-based'.

Unlike many others, Shabnam is positive about the zeal she has observed among the young artistes. She names a few of the promising performers who have been in the spotlight in the past few years. 'Ayesha Rahman Obhi, Leena Taposhi Khan, Shikha Rouf, Mahmudur Rahman and Chhanda are doing well. A few others like Pujan Das, Sunil and Maliha are also capable of proving their talents,' she states.

'The national level competitions also often produce promising young buds,' says Shabnam from her experience as a judge at these contests. She names Umme Jannat Shanchi, Sharha Siddiqi and Porag Chakrabarti from the recent Notun Kunri competitions.

In this connection, Shabnam also puts emphasis on good teachers. According to her, Khairul Anam Shakil and Yakub Ali are very dedicated to teaching Nazrul Sangeet in its pure form. 'The purity of Nazrul Sangeet is much more authenticated now than earlier,' she claims. 'Many records produced during the lifetime of the poet himself have been collected. These have helped a lot in preparing the notations of Nazrul Sangeet properly.'

She, however, regrets that this practice of purity has become rather Dhaka oriented. 'Outside Dhaka, many teachers are teaching wrong tunes completely unknowingly, because often they do not have access to the original tunes', she says. 'Also, in West Bengal, Nazrul Sangeet is being sung in wrong tunes!' she complains. Shabnam, however, names Krishna Majumdar and Sushmita Mukherjee of West Bengal as true followers and practitioners of pure Nazrul Sangeet.

Regarding the current trend of making music videos of Nazrul Sangeet, Shabnam has an open mind. She, in fact, approves of it. 'While the poet himself acted in cinema, there should not be any objection to music videos,' Shabnam justifies. However, she is not satisfied with what have so far been produced in the country. 'Music video should not necessarily mean flashy outfits, or traditional presentation of emotions and situations of the songs,' she comments. For music videos, also Shabnam would rather prefer to give emphasis on the total impact of the song--'the lyrics, the tune and the emotion of the song, everything should be considered,' she says.

Shabnam, however, does not like the idea of using models in music videos. 'I would like to do my own music videos,' says a laughing Shabnam..

In fact, a music video of Shabnam's songs is coming to the market very soon. Along with this, some audio albums will come out on Nazrul Islam's death anniversary in late August.