Vol. 5 Num 626 Fri. March 03, 2006  

Ferdausi Rahman
Unique in her own domain

Although poet Kazi Nazrul Islam coined these words in his famous song: Amay nohey go, bhalobasho shudhu, bhalobasho mor gaan, they capture the essence of every artiste -- to be loved for his/her music. These lines form the title of the monthly programme on ntv where accomplished artiste of the country Ferdausi Rahman presents her songs as they are sung by contemporary artistes.

Ferdausi, as the programme displays, has earned her fame from a very early age. The beauty of her music is its versatility. Ferdausi herself mentioned that although she had been training in pure classical from her ustads and spent innumerable hours in practicing ragas, her first recorded song was a folk number in erstwhile Pakistan Radio (at age 17). Her father, the folk maestro Abbasuddin listened attentively while Ferdausi's song was being broadcast. When she returned home, Abbasuddin commented on the exactness of her style, "I have never taught you this bhawaiya, but you have presented it in its correct manner!"

If I had not made the effort to learn from Ferdausi, I would never have known the nuances that exist for each kind of song that she has so carefully practiced to perfection. There is no doubt that hailing from North Bengal she could make a quick transition from being a modern, educated woman to representing a village belle with all her emotions and longings.

However, that is only a partial portrayal of Ferdausi. When she sang for the films, the reason each song became a hit is because she applied her own imagination and identified herself with the character in the movie concerned and aptly used her own vocal dexterity to represent the character. As she explained the reasons behind a certain pronunciation, or the reason for using a sad tone or happy note, it seemed so well thought of. In the short timing of only three to four minutes of a song an entire era, an entire story, an entire episode even a saga of life has been narrated by her. While teaching the songs, sometimes she says, "The more I think about it, the more my expressions improve and the thoughts of the writer, unifies with mine as a singer. Even the style of holding my breath or deferring it for a later moment makes a gulf of difference."

As an instance she mentions Robin Ghosh's Urdu film song O pardesi aja, ankhiya torey. Even a stress, elongation and juxtaposition is so important.

Ferdausi sings from Abu Hena Mustafa Kamal, Ami bare bare jeebonero srotey bheshey, peyechi tomae sheshey. She explains how life's vagaries tilted her from one shore to another and that's how the words and tune should sound, till you reach peyechi tomae sheshey where it reaches a climax, a culmination of a dream or the end of a journey.

Her renditions are so real and inimitable that to this day no artiste has even after much effort been able to emulate the allure of Podmar dheu rey.

She loses herself in classical music. Her only lament is that she could not train further. She admires the likes of Ustad Amir Khan and also Roshanara Begum, yet her taans, sargams, her renderings are still unattainable to us. Her achievement is very special and so is her dedication. It is not a day's achievement -- it takes a lifetime to achieve what Ferdausi has -- a pursuit through life and a lesson for us all.

The author is an eminent singer.
Nashid Kamal in the show hosted by Ferdausi