Volume 2 Issue 82| May 8, 2010 |


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Behind The Scene

From Sylhet

Songs of the King

Shah Abdul Latif dedicates his life to the songs of Hason Raja songs

Iqbal Qiddiquee

HIS father, Abdul Jalil, would sing songs of Hason Raja in front of the fascinated young Shah Abdul Latif in his boyhood. At the age of eight, he took his first lesson in music from his father. This is how his love affair with music and Hason Raja began.

Today he is 75, and still a man very much in love with music. He is still perfecting his musical skills, composing and arranging new music whenever he can. Shah Abdul Latif is probably one of the few who still follow the great mystic poet Hason Raja's music in its original form.

Abdul Latif hails from Arpinnagar, an area adjacent to Hasons Raja's home at Teghoria in Sunamganj district town. Locally, he is well known as Ustad Abdul Latif. He has always been deeply inspired by the works of Hason Raja. A collection of his renditions of ten Hason Raja songs, called "Premer Agun Lagilo Rey”, was released last year. The collection was brought out by Hason Raja's great-grand son, Dewan Mohammad Tasawar Raja. Taswar's comment on the CD sleeve is illuminating: 'legend Shah Abdul Latif, the only artiste who carries the original music of Hason Raja'.

According to Latif, today Hason Raja songs are being sung in many ways. The original music is rarely heard, and the compositions are also being altered. “This has been a major cause of concern for many of us, as we are going further and further away from our own culture”, Shah Abdul Latif told Star Insight.

The artiste said, “I first performed Hason Raja's song on Chittagong Radio in 1964. 'Ami Tomar Kangali Go Sundori Radha' was the first song. However, I started my radio career with 'Pakhi koiyo bondhuar lagal Pailey', a song by Hason Raja's son, poet Eklimur Raja”, Latif added. Shah Abdul Latif's music repertoire includes about 70 songs of Hason Raja.

He has also published a collection of 200 songs of his own in 2007. He often performs Hason Raja songs at the Shilpakala Academy in the capital. More over, on invitation each year, he performs at the Loka Shilpa Jadughar at Sonargaon.

Shah Abdul Latif had the privilege to join the inaugural chorus of the Sylhet Betar in 1964. He was also the one who had written it. It was called 'Tomar Desh, Amar Desh / Tomar Mati, Amar Mati'. He is currently a registered A grade artiste of Sylhet Betar.

Shah Abdul Latif is the founder and general secretary of the Hason Raja Shilpi Sangsad. Hason Raja's grandson, Dewan Mominul Moujdin, was the president of the organization, which formed in 1994. He shares his time between the organization and his beloved Hason Raja songs. “I have some family property which supports me financially”, Shah Abdul Latif said, “and I wish to spend my last days with the Hason Raja songs.”

The man lives in his small house in the north-eastern district town of Sunamganj, the sparsely populated locale that abounds in natural beauty and stands in the shadows of the Meghalayan hills.

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