Vol. 5 Num 979 Fri. March 02, 2007  

Must have
'Path-er Sheshey': Down memory lane with Nilufar Yasmin

Her breathy voice, finesse and absolute command over every tune she rendered made her inimitable. Impeccable vocals were accompanied by refreshing subtlety and modesty -- like the melody of a banshi. Peers admired her, aspiring artistes looked up to her; music enthusiasts thoroughly enjoyed her songs.

Nilufar Yasmin is a proverbial name in our music arena. Though better known as a Nazrul singer, she rendered songs of Rajnikant, DL Roy and Atulprasad with equal ease.

What many are not aware of is that the gifted artiste began her career with adhunik songs and playbacks for films. During the '70s Nilufar Yasmeen recorded several memorable songs written and composed by her husband and mentor, the multifaceted talent, Khan Ataur Rahman. Gradually she became engrossed with the most traditional aspect of Bangla songs, with encouragement from Rahman, who suggested that was her true calling.

The album Path-er Sheshey, recently released by Impress Audio Vision Ltd, is a collection of adhunik and movie tunes from '70s and '80s. In between 13 songs, narrations by singer Agun (son of Yasmin and Rahman) provide a close look at Yasmin's background, her introduction to the music scene, her insatiable quest to learn every detail of the art and her contribution to it.

The songs highlight a period that is considered the golden era of Bangla songs by many. An era that was defined by uncomplicated and unpretentious compositions. When much emphasis was put on the libretto.

The opening song Protidin shondhaye (written and composed by Khan Ataur Rahman) demonstrates that character. Consider these lines: Protidin shondhaye harabey je alo, bhor belaye tarey loye keno e aradhona...

Mago amar jey bhai, another Rahman creation, highlights a nation's ongoing struggles towards liberation. Listening to this underrated and rather unfamiliar song, one wonders why it had not received the exposure it deserved all these years?

Tomakey pabar agey has that familiar '80s adhunik sound. The lyrics however, are intriguing. Sky-high expectations from the object of one's affection and the heartbreak when reality clashes with fantasy are eloquently articulated: Duur thekey dekhtam shundor bhabtam shei onek bhalo chhilo, jibon-er trishnaye duti haath baratei jibonta hoye gelo rikto...

One of the high points of the album is Yasmin's National Award winning ditty Eto shukh shoibo kemon korey. Written by Md Rafiquzzaman and composed by Khandokar Nurul Alam, the song from the movie Shubhoda was highly appreciated for its rather unconventional sound. Audiences familiar with this number would agree that any other artiste rendering this song would be sacrilege. Yasmin's rendition embodies Saratchandra's ever-victimised, repressed heroine through lines -- Bujhi kanna-i lekha chhilo bhagye amar, shukheo kanna tai du chokh bhorey...

The next song Diyo na diyo na, delineates the once popular (now considered politically incorrect) sexist way of portraying women in the light of the ultimate male fantasy -- a subservient lover. The artiste sings lines like Paye dhori priyo paye thelo na and Ki achhey tomar kachhey ami nogonyo with utmost conviction, the way only she could.

One glitch in the album is that the last song, Je ma-erey ma boley keu dakey na, has been included twice in the album (the sixth song, which was supposed to be Agun jwalerey, is missing). Apart from that Impress Audio Vision Ltd has done a commendable job of making these songs available which are sure to enrich the collection of a music connoisseur. Digital sound alteration has been done in some cases to ensure better quality.

Nilufar Yasmin had that certain X factor that made mediocre songs remarkable and remarkable songs, classics. Listening to the songs in Pother Shehey that feat becomes apparent.

Cover jacket of the album Path-er Sheshey