Vol. 5 Num 151 Sat. October 23, 2004  

A rare passion for Nazrul and Rabindranath

Practising Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Sangeet simultaneously is a rarity among artistes. Badrunnesa Dalia's specialty as a singer is that she has wrought this feat. Although she prefers her Nazrul Sangeet identity, she professes an equal passion for Rabindra Sangeet.

Dalia was born in a culturally weathered family: her father was not a recognised singer but he could sing well enough to inspire interest for the art in his daughter. Dalia's elder brother is the famous cartoonist Asiful Huda; her younger brother Suman Rahat is also a singer. Dalia took lessons in classical music from Ustad Mofizul Islam and Abinash Goswami. Later, she learnt Nazrul Sangeet from renowned Sudhin Das and Sohrab Hossain.

How did she come to identify herself as a Nazrul Sangeet artiste? Apparently Sohrab Hossain played an important role in this. 'Once in the music class, my teacher Sohrab Hossain put me through a test in Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Sangeet. I sang songs from both the genres. After the test he told me to choose Nazrul Sangeet,' says Dalia.

However, she is comfortable with both genres. As a child artiste she won the national award twice in Nazrul Sangeet in 1983 and Rabindra Sangeet in 1984. 'Rabindra Sangeet is based on mir demanding more concentration on pronunciation whereas Nazrul Sangeet demands perfection of the tune. And I believe I am honest in maintaining both,' says Dalia.

But doesn't it create problems while performing Nazrul and Rabindra songs successively? 'After a session of one kind of songs, I have to take a short break for concentrating on the next kind. It hasn't given me much trouble so far. Actually, I have become used to it since my childhood.'

It is unfortunate that an artiste of Dalia's talent has not yet brought out any albums. Explaining the reasoning behind this, she says her husband's government job necessitated field postings at different places. 'Staying out of Dhaka, one cannot have any achievement in this regard,' says Dalia. 'Now that I am back, I am working on my debut album,' she adds.

However, Dalia's first album will feature neither Nazrul Sangeet nor Rabindra Sangeet, but modern songs. Dalia is a little embarrassed about this and says, 'Artistes are rather helpless to the wills of the production houses. There is a notion among them that Nazrul or Rabindra songs don't run better than modern songs. So to enter the music world, one has to contend with the "business interest" of the production houses.' But Dalia is determined that her next albums will be for the lovers of Nazrul and Rabindra songs.

Dalia is an enlisted artiste of Bangladesh Television since 1988 and the Betar since 1996. She also performs at programmes organised by Bangla Academy, Shilpakala Academy, Nazrul Institute and Nazrul Academy.

Dalia rendering songs at a programme