Vol. 5 Num 334 Sat. May 07, 2005  

Kafil Ahmed
A singer of the masses

Like tigers growl!
Like lions roar!
Let tremendous force possess my tune

--Written, composed and sung by Kafil Ahmed

Kafil Ahmed, a true devotee of Gano Sangeet believes in going back to the roots. He is one of the prominent Gano Sangeet singers in the local musical arena. Kafil says, "After completing MA in English, I started taking music lessons from the rural bards living in different parts of the greater Mymensingh area. I felt that my songs should reflect our musical roots. To do that, I worked with a group of people and started a project. In 1990, we launched the programme titled Hajar Bochhorer Bangla Gaan (Bangla songs of thousand years). This includes songs from Charja to Lalon. Later, we jointly wrote our lyrics for the songs following this tradition."

Gano Sangeet, known as 'the song of the masses', has gained wide popularity. This genre has been a key instrument in generating awareness about injustice, in the last few decades. In course of time, the content and presentation of mass songs have changed.

"Mass songs are usually based on political issues. After the 1990s, however, social, political, cultural and economic conditions -- have made noticeable impact on the mass songs of our country. Hence, we believe that to reach out to the public, mass songs should reflect contemporary issues," says Kafil.

"We also focus on popular issues like gender inequality, racial differences and others. Moreover, we like to deal with environmental issues, which include elements such as animals, plants and others. In this sense my songs give equal importance to all living beings.

We tend to follow the Charja (the ancient Bangla literature) and other medieval Bangla writings like Baishnava Padaboli. We use many Bangla mythological allusions in the lyrics. While composing music, we try to follow the traditional kirtan, shyama sangeet and others. We try to avoid traditional classical music, which was introduced in the Indian subcontinent after the Turkish invasion. Rather we focus on raga patomanjori and desh. Sometimes, we sing rhythmic and non-rhythmic songs. Moreover, acoustics of jhanjh, mondira, ektara, dotara, flute and sometimes guitar are used" adds Kafil.

"Gano Sangeet is presented on especial days", continues Kafil, "Young organisers often invite me to present my songs." Of the stage programmes, Kafil recalls his performance in Brahmanbaria, where he had prepared for a three-hour live programme. However, the singers from Dhaka and Kolkata pressured him to continue for a longer period.

Besides performing stage shows at different parts of the country, Kafil has released an album on Gano Sangeet. He likes to experiment with music and plans to release another album shortly.

Kafil Ahmed