Vol. 5 Num 435 Tue. August 16, 2005  

Q & A
"By that time the aircraft had been taken to the hangar and I had to return home barefoot." -- Rafiq
One of the top grade adhunik and playback singers, Rafiqul Alam has been a familiar name in our music arena since the '70s. His popularity gained momentum when he formed a duo with Abida Sultana, his wife. Rafiq's string of hits includes Ek hridoy hinar kachey, Asha chilo money money, Tomakey bhuley jeno na jaee among others. Here's Rafiq up close and personal:

How did it all begin?
I was born in a music-oriented family. My elder brother Sarwar Jahan was a well-known singer in Rajshahi. I listened to his songs with great admiration. Later, while I studied at the college, I performed at the student's forum at Rajshahi Radio. I was enlisted as a regular artiste from that very day.

Later in 1971, I joined the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. This is the most memorable event in my singing career. After Liberation I have performed regularly for the films, TV and travelled far and wide presenting songs.

Your breakthrough performance...
It was sometime around 1973. A massive concert was held at the Dhaka stadium, organised by the Bangladesh Music College. The performers were renowned artistes Shyamol Mitra, Manabendra Mukherji, Manna De, Kanika Banerji from West Bengal and Mahmudun Nabi, Khondokar Faruk Ahmed and a few others from the newly liberated Bangladesh. I was possibly the youngest among the chosen few to perform at the concert. I was ecstatic. From then on I didn't have to look back.

Your unique features....
I can sing in almost 19 languages-- beginning from French, Italian, Pashtu, to Japanese, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Gujrati, Telegu and many more.

What's your real self?
I am basically laid-back. Another trait I have recently developed is forgetfulness. It had so happened that while returning from my concerts abroad, quite a few times I forgot to put on my shoes while coming out of the plane. It was only after I began to feel cold at the lounge that I realised that I had come out with my socks on. By that time the aircraft had been taken to the hangar and I had to return home barefoot.

On another occasion, I absent mindedly left my car at the market for 48 hours-- and returned home in a rickshaw.

A perfect day to you is..
I love the drizzle while watching a movie or listening to the oldie goldies...

Pahela Baishak is a day closest to my heart. Since I was born in a mofussil town, I enjoyed the festivities of Chaitra Sangkranti which began a month earlier and continued till the Pahela Baishak. It is also the day I was married to Abida.

I received the Best Playback award for the film Gangchhil in 1982.

Any hidden side of you?
Angling is close to my heart. During my trips out of Dhaka I have enjoyed fishing in Jagoti in Kushtia, Meghalaya, in the Gulf (Abu Dhabi), and at Key West, the last point of North America, which is only 35 miles away from Miami. Everytime the experience is awesome.

Illustration: Shiplu