Published: Friday, March 22, 2013

Theatre Music: All in the details

In conversation with Shishir Rahaman

Theatre Music: All in the details

Shishir Rahaman is a theatre activist, who has been working with troupe Prangone Mor since its inception. He mainly works on the background music for the productions. Apart from Prangone Mor, he also works with other troupes. In a conversation with The Daily Star, Shishir spoke about his initiation to theatre, his evolution as an artiste, his works and more.
When and how did you step into theatre?
Shishir: I’ve been involved in group theatre for over 20 years. Apart from acting, I’ve been doing background music for more than 10 years, and have now chosen it as a profession.
Tell us about your work as a music director.
Shishir: I prefer using traditional sub-continental musical instruments, like different types of flutes, mouth organ, dotara, mandolin, violin and harmonium. Instead of leaning towards western instruments, I feel comfortable with our own instruments.
What is your process of music composition?
Shishir: Initially, I have to go through the script and then make compositions based on the time, place, action and characters of the play. As a music director, I have to remain cautious and work with precision, as bad music arrangement can spoil an entire play.
What’s your take on fusion music?
Shishir: I prefer working on a single form rather than combining two or more forms. As music is deep-rooted in our history and culture, I think it’s possible to create something original within our traditional system. We have many rhythmic and percussion instruments which can be used in new dimensions.
Do you think our background music and scores are on a par with the West, or our neighbouring countries?
Shishir: I think we are much ahead in background music than our neighbouring countries; and in the case of the West, we are yet to reach their standards. We don’t have adequate facilities, but we are making optimum use of our limited resources.
What’s your opinion about the prospects of theatre music in Bangladesh?
Shishir: We are doing well and if we get support from the authorities concerned, we will certainly go further. There is no dedicated institute for theatre music in our country, and no training facilities in the country or abroad. In addition, we have to develop the technical sides and introduce professionalism in the sector.
What, according to you, are the problems that are pulling us behind?
Shishir: Usually we don’t give importance to the small parts of music; focus still remains on songs. The practice of instrumentals is also rare; only songs are considered “music”. If we want to excel, we have to highlight instrumental music more, and give importance to the small details.
Tell us about your troupe Prangone Mor.
Shishir: We lean towards literature as inspiration, and often highlight Rabindranath Tagore’s works. Apart from acting, our members also give importance to literary knowledge and correct pronunciation.