Innumerable fans affectionately address Faruq Mahfuz Anam as ‘Guru’. The national award-winning rock star is commonly known as James.
James, one of the greatest music artists in the country, is highly-popular and reputable across Bangladesh and beyond, especially among Bangla-speaking people.
Being a pioneer of psychedelic rock, he blended rock with the folk genre. His songs have symbolised myriads of aspects. But, most importantly, some of them have epitomised the traditions of the country and its people. Through the intermixture of the rock and folk genre, he attempted to revive some of Bangladesh's moribund cultures and mores.
One of his biggest hits, Bangladesh, describes Bangladesh by acknowledging the contribution of the most influential personalities in the liberation war of '71. Besides, Jatra, Banglar Lathiyal, Hadudu, Housey, and Nag Naginir Khela are some of his songs that denote the cultures of the commoners and the villagers.
If it weren't for his songs, the then practices of the countrymen would not have reached today’s generation given the level of existential crisis these customs are already facing.
James, in his songs, has emphasised the unprivileged women in Bangladesh and their unrecognised contribution. Haremer Bondini and Station Road denote the torments of women. At the same time, Dukhini Dukkho Koro Na inspires women and Didimoni appreciates the contribution of all the female garments workers. Through Mirabai, the listeners have gleaned ideas about the devotion, courage, and steadfastness a woman can possess.
James has also sung iconic songs like Lais Fita Lais and Mannan Miar Titash Molom, which underline the simple lives of the underprivileged and working-class people.
In addition, one of his hits, Jail Theke Bolchi, conveys a prisoner's feelings.
Activists and political personalities will derive great zeal and patriotism from songs like Aar Noy Juddho, Poradhin Bangla, and Asche Desha Asche. There are James’ songs galore that reflect people's thoughts from different walks of life.
Through some of his songs, James has depicted realities and unavoidable truth. He has produced hits like Ashbar Kale Ashlam Eka and Guru Ghor Banaila Ki Diya, which remind the listeners of death and it is inescapable. Furthermore, songs like Rakhe Allah Mare Ke, Ishwar Achhe, and Khoda Bhogoban outline the relationship between humans and the creator, one of the purest bonds in this world.
James has successfully sung romantic songs and, at the same time, conveyed the laments of lovers. His romantic hits include Taray Taray, Likhte Pari Na Kono Gan, and Poddo Patar Jol.
He has successfully reached people from all walks of life by singing about diverse topics, and this is how he standouts from other singers in Bangladesh. It’s imperative to understand the emotions of unprivileged and working-class people, including cleaners, sex workers, and rickshaw pullers. James has successfully touched all of the professionals mentioned above, along with students, activists, noblemen, and even the upper class.
Additionally, he has a unique singing style through which he incorporates all the emotion to the fullest, and this flair of his is second to none. His songs and way of singing touch soul to the core. His songs are so popular and relevant that people still throng his concerts and chant ‘Guru’.
However, 'Gen Z' hasn't listened to most of his less popular yet meaningful songs, and this is possible because of the esoteric lyrics, but these types of songs are his forte.
James has become renowned since the early 1990s across the country, and since then, he has undoubtedly been the singer with one of the largest fan bases at any given timeframe. Other than that, he is highly revered in the entire West Bengal. His influential songs, versatility, unique style, popularity, and ability to reach different types of people in society serve as testaments that he is one of the best vocalists and artists Bangladesh has produced.