"Lyrics are the tangible reflection of emotions" -- Gazi Mazharul Anwar |
Sadya Afreen Mallick
It was one of those drizzly Ashaadh mornings, as we listened engrossed to the eminent lyricist, film director and producer Gazi Mazharul Anwar at our Daily Star office. Clad in his typical white panjabi, Gazi talked informally on his illustrious career in the media.
"I never thought that I would be involved with the media. I was in my third year as a medical student when I had the urge to write lyrics for films. My father was shocked! It took him a while to come around. I think my greatest compliment came a few years later, when receiving the prestigious Ekushey Padak on my behalf, my father said, "You've proved your worth, now I will die a very content man," says Gazi. Gazi later went on to receive other highly prestigious National Awards such as the Shadhinata Padak and numerous National Film Awards.
Gazi is amongst the most prolific of lyricists in our country. Having entered filmdom in the '60s, he has so far penned an astounding number of 21,000 songs, "Perhaps the highest number of songs written by an individual in the subcontinent," he says. His countless hit songs include Joy Bangla Banglar Joy, Ekbaar Jetey De Na Amar, Akasher Hatey Achey Ekraash Neel, Achen Amaar Mokhtar Achen Amaar Barrister, Mago Ma Ogo Ma and many more.
He recalls an interesting anecdote on his prolific ability to produce winning songs while working with acclaimed director Zahir Raihan. "Zahir was far more advanced than his peers in his ideas. In those days of black and white films, he shot films such as Sangam and Bahana in colour. When directing Dui Bhai in the late 60s, he wanted to complete it in only 17days! Accordingly, Zahir requested me to prepare seven songs within two days. He knew it was a challenge, but he asked me to try anyway. I accepted the challenge and imagine his total surprise when I completed writing the lyrics not within two days, but within three hours!" says Gazi.
Across the border, eminent lyricist Gouri Proshonno Majumdar of India, complimented Gazi highly. A particular folk-based song Tumi ar ekbaar ashiya jao morey kandaiya, had left a strong impression on him. Other critics have been quoted as saying that they would often wake up in the morning and retire at night listening to Gazi's songs.
Lyrics are the tangible reflection of moods and emotions. However, "In our country the lyricists become a forgotten chapter when a song becomes a classic," notes Gazi.
A nostalgic Gazi humbly recalls the golden age of music that made it all possible. His contemporaries were Dr Md Muniruzzaman, Professor Abu Hena Mustafa Kamal and Masud Karim among others. Eminent composers Abdul Ahad, Shubol Das, Sattya Saha, Khondokar Nurul Alam, Altaf Mahmud, Alauddin Ali, Anwar Pervez composed music for his songs, he added. In such a star-studded company, creating timeless music was simply an inevitable extension of their genius.
Music though, was not limited to only the enlightened circles. "Our culture is very rich and undoubtedly music has always been at the forefront. As a child I remember even vendors would sell records of eminent singers such as Kamala Jharia and others. Music is something we hold very dear to our heart. However, with the change of tide everything is becoming mechanical. Now music is multi-dimensional. Artistes now are less passionate about any particular song since songs are prepared hastily. Music and dance have joined hands, which often results in vulgarity and are driving away the true listeners," he continues.
"Film songs are situational," adds the accomplished lyricist. "It is a combined effort of the lyricists, music composers, artistes, musicians and the recordists. We would spend hours together with the music composers and the artistes would sit for regular rehearsals before a song was created.
"However, due to the invasion of satellite culture, there has been a drastic downward trend in films. Music and dance in films have become secondary during the '80s. They are used merely as a visual treat (some would say abuse) rather than creating a tasteful piece. During the '90s it continued to worsen and now we are witnessing an all time slump."
Gazi asserts that a competitive market necessitates offering incentives for quality films. "If films are considered an industry (since they pay regular taxes and employ thousands of people and so on), why should they not be given the same incentives as in any other industry?" he asks.
"Without government support and reduction of service charges such as print processing that amounts to Taka 10-15 lakh, our filmdom is bound to lag behind. This is a big setback and would encourage encroachment of foreign films that can beat us out of the market through lower prices," says Gazi.
Gazi, an executive of the Producers Association, has so far produced about 32 films. "Government funding or subsidies should be based on the quality of the script and should be available to talented newcomers as well as the renowned filmmakers," he adds.
Gazi says that Film Development Corporation (FDC) has seen 31 directors in 34 years and has mostly been headed by people from the administrative background. "What FDC needs is creative people at the helm; only then can our country witness the revival of what was once a booming industry."