The small gathering at the Dipanpur Book Cafe in Dhaka on October 26 last was to celebrate, to support and to recognise the musical devotion of two friends. Over the last three decades they have devoted themselves to music humbly. One is Iqbal Sumon, a singer based in Narayanganj. He is not only a popular name in the locality but also a regular performer in national events. Another is Khaleda Yasmin Eti who used to perform in the arenas of family and friends mostly.
The story behind the evening actually goes back more than three decades. Those were the days when school students of class-nine and class-ten used to go to private tutors in small groups or batches ahead of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination. Most of the teachers, who taught them privately, were school teachers. But a few of them were established as independent tutors with a greater success. Babu Gosai Das Halder was one of such tutors who taught Mathematics and other subjects of science discipline (Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Higher Mathematics). Md Shafiqual Alam, a banker by profession, used to teach Bengali and English. Babu Priya Lal Das, a teacher of Bar Academy School in the locality, taught lessons on English in his limited private batches. Kamal Kanti Shaha, a teacher of Narayanganj High School, privately instructed mostly on Mathematics and also subjects of science. Boys and girls from different schools gathered in the batches of these teachers and many of them developed a good friendship among themselves.
A number of 1989 SSC examination candidates of these batches came closer during their two years of studies. Immediately after appearing in the examination, some of them decided to publish a magazine titled Setu (Bridge). Thus starts the journey of their never-ending friendship. They published five issues of the magazine within three years and also started to organise a series of cultural events on different occasions beside their regular academic activities.
Iqbal Sumon and Khaleda Eti along with a few othes formed the core performing team of the group. In fact, Sumon started to learn music from his childhood. Eminent musician Lokman Hossain Fakir at that time ran a music school at the Narayanganj Rifle Club where Sumon and his elder sister Banya took their primary lessons. Their parents late Kafiluddin Ahmad and Fatema Khatun fully supported them. Sumon later went to Joy Joyanti Jalsha, a music school founded by another musician Abu Taher. Eti also joined the school to receive her musical training.
Sumon also received rigorous training from Shahjahan Saju privately and in later years continued his practice very passionately. He started to perform at national events after receiving extensive training from a number of eminent instructors like Sudhin Das, Nilufar Yasmin, Rizwana Chowdhury Banya, Asit Day, Mridul Kanti Chakrabarty and Rizwan Ali.
Eti, on the other hand, kept his musical engagement moderate. At one stage she received training from Chhayanaut. Nevertheless, she doesn't take it as her profession. After completion of her Master's in Chemistry, she started her professional career in the development field while Sumon gradually turned a professional singer and music trainer. He is now a deputy programme officer of Radio Narayanganj and involved with a number of musical and cultural organisations.
At the insistence of their friends and well-wishers, Sumon and Eit finally performed in their first-ever duet musical show at the Dipanpur Book Café. The musical soiree got going with the duet performance of Tagore's 'O amar desher mati.'
Iqbal Sumon's first solo 'Amar kon kule aaj virlo tori' clearly reflected his specialisation in Nazrul songs. In fact, he was a student of the first Master's batch of Music Department at the University of Dhaka. Later he also received more training on Nazrul Sangeet.
Then came Eti's first solo 'Borisho dhora majhe', a Tagore song. The Chhayanaut-trained singer having fine command on Tagore songs later also performed 'Bhenge more ghorer chabi' and 'Anando dhara bohichey bhubone' keeping the audience engrossed.
While performing, Eti also gave the audience a few anecdotes about different songs which made the event briefly interactive. Again, her high-scale tone with supporting instruments changed the ambience of the cosy hall when she performed 'Modhu maloti dake aaie,' one of the popular songs of famous singer Sandhaya Mukherjee.
Eti's presentation also included Lalon's song 'Bedheche amon o ghor' and folk-genre 'Jole bhasa padmma ami' (popularised by Protima Banarjee). Through these songs she exposed her command over musical modulation but couldn't skip slight deviations during the performance.
Iqbal Sumon kept the audience entranced with his diverse selection of songs and also responded to a few requests. With his soft and melodious harmonic, he captivated the audience while rendering 'Amar baul moner ektarta', 'Bhalo achi bhalo theko,' 'O amar Bangla ma tor,' and Lalon-song 'Ami oper hoye bochye aschi.'
Sumon, however, exposed his excellent voice modulation with strong command over musical rhythm by performing 'Pathe pathe dilam choriaiaray', a famous song of eminent singer Kalim Shorafi. The seasoned singer also rendered 'Ore chotto belar sathi,' one of the hit songs of the country's leading band group Renaissance, and instilled a wave of nostalgia into the audience.
Sumon and Eti finished the event performing duet 'Purano sai diner kotha' and the audience joined them.
The singers were accompanied by an orchestra comprising Jaggannath Banarjee on tabla, Shaheen on keyboard, Mishu on guitar and Imran on octopad. Alomgir Amin Alo of Dipanpur provided the sound system and other assistance.
Earlier, Soumik Das, the owner of fashion house Rang Bangladesh, welcomed all in his brief introductory remarks.
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