Vol. 4 Num 78 Wed. August 13, 2003  

Face to face
Mita and her melodies
All about Mita Haque

The Daily Star(TDS) : Tell us how did you begin your career as a singer?

Mita Haque(MH) : It all started in my own house when I was very small. Music was popular in both my maternal and paternal grandfathers' places. I was born in an environment of music. My paternal uncle Wahidul Haque was my first guru.

TDS: When did you start taking formal music lessons?

MH: My passion for music was natural and I used to learn very informally. At the age of eleven I participated in the International Children's Festival at Berlin. Later in 1976, at the age of thirteen, I started to learn music formally from one of the gurus named Mohammad Hossain Khan who was a great Tabla player of this subcontinent.

TDS: How did you get influenced by Tagore songs?

MH: There was always an influence of Nazrul song in my maternal grandfather's house. My uncles used to sing Nazrul, Classical, DL Roy and Atul Prashad. I used to sing such songs as well. When I was about fifteen, I became very inclined to Tagore songs. The urge to sing Tagore songs came from within. It was since then that I started to sing Tagore songs seriously.

TDS: What would you be if you were not a Tagore singer?

MH: I liked the subject chemistry. If I were not a Tagore singer I might have concentrated on becoming a Chemistry teacher.

TDS: Share with us a memorable event of your singing career.

MH: Shailaja Ranjan Majumdar was the direct apprentice of Rabindranath Tagore. He came to Dhaka in 1981. He is one of those special people with whom Tagore carried on his works of notation. I had the honour of getting very close to Shailaja da. Before leaving the country, he told me, 'Don't be proud of your achievements. Someday you will become a great singer.' This is a memorable peice of advice, which I try to follow whole-heartedly.

TDS: Which countries have you traveled so far for singing?

MH: Definitely first of all India. I have traveled to some cities of the USA like Washington, North Carolina and Virginia. I have also been to some countries of Europe. In UK I performed at Leeds, Manchester and London.

TDS: How did you come up with the idea of running a music school?

MH: I started Shurtirtha, my music school, a few years back. Initially, many students would come to my house to learn music. Gradually the number increased and I could not give them enough space in my house. So I decided to rent a house and start teaching music there.

I am also the organiser of the Jatiya Rabindra Sangeet Shammelon Parishad. It is a 22-year-old organisation and has 50 branches. It is a missionary job for us. We train up the children in Tagore songs as well as other branches of Bangla songs, recitals and dance. We arrange competition every two years at the thana, zilla and finally national levels.

TDS: Who are your favourite singers and who do you think are the promising singers of our country?

MH: I like Shubinoy Roy, Kanika Bandopadhaya, Nilima Sen, Sanjida Khatun, Fahmida Khatun, Suchitra Mitra, Shwastika Mukhopadhya, Sagata Lakshmi Dasgupta and Srikanta Acharya. I also appreciate the talents of some of the upcoming singers like Lysa Ahmed Lisa and Aditi Mohsin of our country.

TDS: What about the recording standard of our country? Where do you feel comfortable to record your songs?

MH: The recording studios and the equipments are good in our country, even better than many countries of this region. But there is lack of proper effort to compose music and play the instruments. Secondly, the musicians need to devote plenty of time to develop themselves for playing instruments with Tagore songs. The same musician is playing with different types of songs. As a result, they do not develop expertise in a specific field. But the situation is quite different in Kolkata. They are professional and skilled. The set of musicians, the recording techniques are good there.

TDS: Which are your favourite songs?

MH: There are so many that I cannot possibly name them. But most of them are spiritual and are dedicated to the Creator, for example, Jibon Moron Shimana Periye, Tomare Modhur Rupey, Lukiye Achho Adhar Ratey etc.

TDS: Why don't you sing other types of songs?

MH: Well, I do sing Atul Prasad and DL Roy's songs. But my voice doesn't match other songs. I have tried to sing folk and Ganasangeet but somehow was not very much successful, so I did not try further. But I love to listen to Nazrul songs.

Mita Haque passionately sings on