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119th Birth Day of National Poet Nazrul

Nazrul : The great composer

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Mobarak Hossain Khan :
I am speaking of our National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, one of the pioneers of modern Bengali song. Classical music was always confined within the four walls of Ghorana. Classical musicians were always reluctant to teach classical music to anyone outside the family. The durbars of kings and emperors were the seat of classical music. Classical music used to be practiced in their durbars. As a result, it was almost unknown to the common people. It was incomprehensible to them. It was Nazrul who realised this fact that if classical music was not presented in the milieu of common people, they would never be able to appreciate the inner appeal of classical music. Nazrul himself was trained in classical music. But he was a man with modern thinking. He created a new trend in the modern song by mixing a flavour of modernism in classical music. Nazrul was, thus, a poet and musician of a transitional period. He gave a new direction to the modern Bangla song. He wrote:
With the late Monsoon's light clouds wanders my mind,
Toward Malabika's home along the Reva's lonely shore.
My mind is propelled by the lazy wind like a light-winged bird.
My pining darling cries alone her hair loosened.
Looking now at the cloud now at the river
Where the dark village-girl wipes her tears unseen,
Where alone my beloved sits by the window thither goes my mind. (Translated by Abu Rushd)
Kazi Nazrul Islam enriched the treasure of Bangla songs. He wrote innumerable verse-lyrics and at the same time rendered them into melody. Sometimes, he tuned them in Bhatiali, sometime in Jari, sometimes in Sari. He composed many Jari, Sari, Bhawaiya, Bhatiali, Marfati and Murshidi songs. He also composed 'Ragprodhan gaan' or semi-classical songs, based on Ragas and Raginis.  Nazrul joined a Leto in his teens. This troup had definite influence in moulding the future course of life of the poet.  He introduced varieties in his songs. He brought foreign tunes in his songs. He could mix both the tunes of the country with that of other countries easily, because he knew both the systems. His indigenous songs composed on the tunes of Bhatiali, Bhawaiaya, Jari-Sari, and Murshidi were popular, so were his compositions based on different Ragas like Imon, Belawal, Jayjayanti, Jaunpuri, Tori, Behag, Darbari, Piloo, Chayanot, Khambaj. He also adapted Arabic and Persian tunes to his compositions.
Ghazal, which was invented in Persia and was popularised by the great maestro of music Hazrat Ameer Khasru, took a new shape in the form of Bangla Ghazal in the hands of Nazrul Islam. Nazrul composed many songs to the tune of ghazal. He gave a radiance to this new form of song. The theme of ghazal is the love or separation and pang of the hero and heroine. In Nazrul's composition the touching eagerness and pleasing natural beauty of ghazal was manifested. Nazrul Islam was also equally adept in composing love songs. He wrote:
You are beautiful, so I keep looking at you, my darling
is that a crime?
The chokori cries out seeing the moon
but the moon doesn't mind.
I watch and watch the flowers blossoming
The flowers don't say that it's a mistake.
the chatokini sheds its longing tears for the cloud
the cloud doesn't protest.
The sunflower knows it will never get the sun
yet, naively, it keeps looking at its god,  
and is happy.
I received my eyes to behold your captivating look,
O Beautiful!
Let that desire be fulfilled, o my darling!  (Translated by Sajed Kamal)
Nazrul's main intention was to give novelty and variety, in both his versification and tune, and this was his uniqueness and excellence. Nazrul created varieties of tunes with the union of different Ragas and Raginis. He also composed songs in different Ragas. Jogia, Darbari Kanara, Malkaush, Hindol ragas were embodied in his compositions.
Nazrul also composed numerous songs to suit the religious festivals of the Muslims. The universal image of Islam was unfolded in those songs. Nazrul wrote songs on the occasion of each and every Muslim festival. He enriched the treasure of Bengali songs with his compositions like Marfati, Murshidi, Marsia, Hamd and Naat, lyrics on Hajj, Zakat, Namaj, Roja and Eid. He wrote:
Bright as the crimson sun in the lap of dawn
rocks a radiant full moon in mother Amina's bosom.
Come, one and all, look at that glorious sight and rejoice.
All through the entire creation reverberates a single question:
Who has arrived?
With Kalima Shahadat on his lips who has arrived?
The angels gaily sing:
Peace and God's blessings be upon him,
for him they fling wide open all the doors of Paradise.
(Translated by Kabir Chowdhury)
Nazrul Islam's patriotic songs are tremendously popular. He wrote songs against the colonial rule. His songs infused a new ray of hope in the minds of the people of the then British Bengal. It gave a sense of direction to the oppressed people. It awakened the nation from its deep slumber. He also sang fiery songs. He stood by the labourers, coolies and farmers. His songs were a thunderous protest against the oppression and tyranny. He wrote in the tune of patriotic song:
Destroy those iron gates of prison, demolish the blood stained stony altars
of chain worshipping!
O youthful Shiva
blow your horn of universal cataclysm!
Let the flag of destruction
rise amidst the rubble of prison walls of the Fast!!
Let's see
you shake up the foundation
of that terrible prison.
Kick - break the locks!
All those prisons
set them on fire,
burn them down, uproot them forever!! (Translated by Sajed Kamal)
Nazrul's pen does not stop here. He took a vow to awake each man and woman of the country with the cut spark of revolution. He then introduced a new type of song which was written in harmony with the marching tune of the soldiers.
Nazrul also took a noble penance to create something new. He created ragas:  Nirjhorini, Minakshi, Banakuntola, Sondhya Maloti, Dulonchampa etc. which speak of his creativeness. He also composed songs keeping in resonance with different rythms.
His magic compositions attract all classes of listeners. He composed songs in the rhythms of Ektala, Trital, Kaharba, Teora, Dadra, Khemta, Jhaptal etc. Nazrul Islam also recorded a number of songs in his own voice.
No other poet, could write such a large number of songs in Bangla in the past and probably none will, in the future. Kazi Nazrul Islam wrote more songs than any other of his contemporary poets.
Like his diversified life Nazrul Islam also illuminated the music world with variegated compositions. Nazrul, in the world of music, is unique, extraordinary and a great poet for all time. The poet, though said he will be no more in the world in his song mentioned below, yet he will be remembered for his great contribution in Bangla literature and music for ever :
"When I'll be no more and say good bye. I know my memory will get erased forever.
When he is in front the mirror reflects his shadow the shadow disappears as soon as he goes away.
Who remembers whom in this world's play-house.
the sea heaves under the caressing moon,
the desert is desperate with thirst.
When the sun rises who remembers the moon,
the human mind like the river builds on the other shore
when this shore destroys.
Your wedding-bower will be built o'er my grave, my darling
Alas! my craving mind can't get rid of its pain. (Translated by Abu Rushd)

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