Vol. 5 Num 459 Fri. September 09, 2005  

Andrew Kishore
The regaling voice

The song Hayre manush rangin phanush from the film Bado bhalo lok chhilo is perhaps the most appealing and widely rendered song of Andrew Kishore. The talented singer is a recipient of six National Film Awards in the best playback singer category.

Right after the film Bado bhalo lok chhilo was released, the song became an instant hit. He recalls the day vividly. Andrew reminisces, "I wasn't aware that litterateur Syed Shamsul Haque is also a lyricist. When he approached the music composer Alam Khan, I was amazed by his remarkable lyrics."

Haque told Alam, "I've been meaning to write a song like this for long." He was convinced that the singer, composer and the film in which the song would be used might have a shot at the National Award. He was right. Andrew received the National Film Award for the song as the best playback singer in 1982. That was just the third year of Andrew's career. Other memorable songs of Andrew are Dak diachhey doyal amarey, Amar shara deho kheyo go mati, Amar buker moddhey khaney and Amar babar mukhey prothom jedin.

Andrew started learning music at the age of six under Abdul Aziz Bachchu. Gradually Andrew started to perform in school shows, then on stage. Soon he started performing at programmes in Rajshahi.

Andrew said, "After the Liberation War, I was enlisted in the radio in the categories of Nazrul, Tagore, modern, folk and patriotic songs." In 1977 Andrew received an offer to perform a modern song under veteran music director Debu Bhattacharya in Dhaka.

"It was the first time I performed with so many modern instruments. I performed the song Soheli o soheli but somehow I was not completely satisfied. Music director AHM Rafique suggested that Alam Khan would be the perfect music composer for me," recalls Andrew.

The break through playback song of Andrew was under Alam Khan. "Alam Khan was working on a tune and he asked me to sing in front of other composers and film directors," says Andrew. He was very nervous.

As Alam listened to him, he had to render about seven songs back to back. Andrew said, "Everyone appreciated my performance. But to my disappointment nobody offered me any song."

He didn't know something special was awaiting him. The next morning when Andrew went to Alam's house he offered Andrew to sing for the upcoming film he was working for. His first film song was Achinpurer rajkumari for the movie Mail Train. The second one was Dhum dharakka from Badal Rahman's Emilir Goyenda Bahini. For AJ Mintu' s Protikkha, he sang Ek chor jay choley. From then on there was no looking back. Andrew released several albums subsequently.

Talking about the music scenario of yesteryears, he says, "Today's singers have more chances of popularity because there are several available mediums. But I wanted to become a playback singer as it was the highest goal for any singer of that time."

Of late Andrew has been busy running a production house, Probaho Media. This organisation produces TV plays, commercials and other productions.

Andrew welcomes the recent talent hunts, "Because of these shows in Bangladesh, the stalemate in our music arena should get a momentum."

Going down memory lane, Andrew says, "I still remember the day I first rendered a song for Subal Das. I couldn't catch the essence of his song and eventually failed to sing it properly. While the recording was on, I came out from the recording studio without informing Subalda. He understood why I did this. After ten years, at his home I heard him saying to a newcomer, 'Andrew is so devoted to music that he escaped from a recording because he failed to catch the tune of my song. But, look at him today, he is so popular that even I ask for suggestions from him.' Now that is a compliment I'll always cherish."

Andrew Kishore
Photo: Shawkat Jamil