Volume 4 Issue 21| May 07, 2011|


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Behind the scene
Journey Through Bangladesh

From Jhenidah

Baul Aruj Ali-An artiste in the realm of Baul

Aruj Bayati performing baul songs at his residence

Veteran Baul singer, Lalon devotee and an enlisted artiste of Bangla Vision, Channel I, Baishakhi TV and Stv, Baul Aruj Ali, also renders Baul songs at Bangla Academy and Shilpokala Academy regularly. Aruj Ali draws large crowds all over Bangladesh with his soulful renditions of Lalongeeti. At the national level too, he is known as a talented Palakar/ Baul singer.

Aruj Ali was born in 1961 in Armuk village under Sadar upazila of Jhenidah district. His father Abdul Hakim Mollah was a farmer. Ali's interest in Lalon songs and Pala Gaan was kindled when he heard the songs at the age of 8. He was in class two at the time. Ali's father Hakim assisted in Jari gaan with his tune (Dohari). Very often Lalon songs were performed and Pala Gaan was staged at the village.

Ali completed his primary education in 1972 and studied up to class eight in Jalal Uddin secondary school. In 1975, he gave up studies to immerse himself in Lalon's ideology and Pala Gaan. He was particularly attracted to Pala gaan and Lalon songs rendered by Halim Bayati and Hazera Bayati at Faridpur village. He made a Dotara with his own hands and started to practice. Later, he learnt Pala Gaan and Lalon songs under Haran Biswas for one year at Kazali village. Next, he went on to train under Abdul Halim Bayati of Nowdova village in Faridpur district and remained under his wing for around 32 years. He has collected 8000 songs and knows 2000 of them by heart! His collection includes Lalon songs, Panju Shah, Pagla Kanai, Bijoy Sarkar, Meser Shah, Rashik Sarkar, Khaled Dewan and others rural song writers.

Khulna Betar artist Jagadish Biswas and teacher of Chapali govt primary school, a close associate of Aruj Ali, said that Ali is a proponent of Lalon shah, Panju Shah, Bijoy Sarkar and Pagla Kanai songs. He has collected songs of artists that people of Jhenidah have not even heard of. Suvas Das also echoed this view.

Ali told Star Insight that he has taken part in Pala Gaan with reputed artiste like Momotaj, Dalil Uddin, Lal Mia, Shahanaj Parvin, Parash Dewan, Aklima, Latif Sarkar, Rashid Sarkar, Aleya, Mayarani and other Pala Gaan artistes. He said in every Bengali month Chaitra, he renders Baul songs at Jadughar, TSC Bakultala and Shishu park in Dhaka. He has 10 students who are performing Pala Gaan and Baul songs in different parts of Bangladesh.

Ali won an award from Jhenidah Baul Samity in 2009. He was awarded the first prize in a Pala Gaan competition in Shailkupa upazila. He added that he has contested with Indian Pala Gaan artiste in Nadi-24 pargana, Bardhaman, Musrhidabad, and Kolkata. He now wishes to publish an album, which is largely already complete. He hopes to publish it as soon as the finances work out.

The seasoned artiste goes on hire to perform Pala Gaan at Tk 8-10 thousand a night. He gets two or three programmes every month during the season from November to March. An undaunted Ali however says he will continue Pala Gaan and Lalon songs and conduct research on Lalon in days to come. His wife, Sakhina Khatun, 55, said that they are happy as they pass their days through solvency with their sons and daughters.

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