The Financial Express

Lest we forget

Masud Karim: A genius lyricist

Mohammad Amjad Hossain | Published: March 15, 2019 21:16:42

The photo shows Masud Karim wearing glasses and in front of him is Dilara Alo and next to him are his son Sohel and grand daughter The photo shows Masud Karim wearing glasses and in front of him is Dilara Alo and next to him are his son Sohel and grand daughter

Masud Karim alias Barney (nick name adopted by his father Mr. Abu Daud Rezaul Karim from renowned footballer in London) could have been Shakespeare in Bangladesh because he used to write excellent sonnets which appeared in the Shamokal edited by Poet Sikandar Abu Zafar but turned out to be a renowned lyricist and film producer. His poems also appeared in the Shahitya journal edited by the poet Hemayet from Narayanganj, apart from the weekly newspaper Sangjog, edited by me and published from Kushtia in 1960. Prior to graduation from commerce faculty in Dacca College, Masud, who was senior to this writer by two years, began composing songs for singers of Radio Pakistan and Television as well, apart from writing Geetinakhsha. Masud Karim was born on February 14 in 1938 at Kumarkhali which now belongs to Kushtia district. In terms of relationship, this writer was Masud Karim's uncle. During his college life, Masud was allured by his maternal uncle, Khondakar Nurul Alam, who was a dramatist and writer, to go to Karachi to compose songs for the film which his maternal uncle planned to produce. Masud was made assistant to the producer. The film did not see light of the day. On return from Karachi, Masud appeared in examination and graduated from the commerce faculty of Dacca College and got admitted to Dacca University wherein he was allured by Mr. Iqbal Bahar Choudhury, retired as Chief Editor of Bangla section of Voice of America and settled in Maryland, to write Geetinaksha for cultural functions at different residential halls of Dacca University. Mr. Iqbal Bahar Choudhury was an organiser of different cultural functions of Dacca University. While writing for Masud Karim Memorial Foundation, Mr. Iqbal Bahar Choudhury recalled that the function that was held at Fazlul Haque residential hall was of immense success because of Geetinaksha of Masud Karim. Masud Karim Memorial Foundation was established after death of Masud Karim in Montreal, Canada by his wife Dilara Alo, who established herself as a renowned singer.

Masud Karim was not a diligent student like his illustrious father who was regarded as a moving English dictionary and could recite at heart Shakespeare's writings-poems and plays alike, but Masud got all good qualities of his father who was honest, sincere in his purpose and caring as well. During his student career in Dacca University, Masud Karim developed friendship with Syed Abdul Hadi and Mr. Nazmul Huda. This writer saw Masud Karim many times at the residential hall of Syed Abdul Hadi composing songs.

During those days we were living in the government residential quarter of the Azimpur Colony at 17 E allocated to his father. This writer would like to narrate an interesting anecdote relating to his father late Abu Daud Rezaul Karim and son Masud Karim. In 60's my cousin Abu Daud Rezaul Karim was working as a section officer in the Board of Revenue of East Pakistan. Possibly Abu Daud Rezaul Karim resolved the land dispute of a gentleman who approached Abu Daud Rezaul Karim with a bucket of mangoes and lychees as well, but Abu Daud Rezaul Karim did not accept. Similarly, Masud Karim was instigated by a business magnate (Sowdagar) of Chittagong where Masud Karim used to work as a programme producer of Radio Pakistan in 1965 to   write at least five songs in his name in exchange for ten thousand rupees, but Masud did not accept the proposal. Masud Karim used to stay with this writer at the Central Government House allotted to me at Agrabad Colony. Incidentally, I had been working since December of 1963 in the Central News Organisation of Karachi at the Chittagong radio station. This writer would like to recall another anecdote that my cousin was so excited while introducing to his brother-in-law Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique, school inspector in Jessore and poet by himself, on a visit sometime in 1961 that he had poet and litterateur in his house. At that time Masud turned out to be a poet and this writer used to contribute to the literary page of Daily Ittefaq and Sangbad.

Songs and music are sources of inspiration as well as entertainment to one's heart. Song is a natural means of self-expression. Different races tend to develop different song idioms -- the use of particular scales, melodic interval rhythmic motifs etc. Masud Karim composed songs in a simple and lucid manner which touches our hearts. This writer is inclined to quote following lines from his popular songs to bear out the fact of Masud Karim's own distinctive individuality as a lyricist: "flute is being played with familiar and unfamiliar tunes. My mind refuses to stay at home at this tune at an auspicious moment or I am spreading the fragrance of the flowers of the tuberose. I have been spreading the light of the moon which is covered by the cloud. I am trying to hide sorrows of my life through rendering songs and songs." The tunes to many songs written by Masud Karim were composed by Khondokar Nurul Alam, Samar Das, Subal Das, Henry Gilbert, Abdul Ahad, etc while long established artistes like Ferdousi Rahman, Farida Yasmeen, Syed Abdul Hadi, Nazmul Huda (Bachu), Abdul Jabbar, Runa Laila performed his songs.

Having severed relationship with Radio Pakistan, Masud Karim travelled to Comilla where he served briefly at a pharmaceutical firm of his in-laws when he found a job as secretary to the Vice-Chancellor of Mymensingh Agricultural University in 1969.

Following independence of Bangladesh Masud Karim was attracted to the celluloid life of the world to earn money for members of his family. He became producer of a film: Ochena Othithi (unknown guest) which was released to the market in 1978. Jointly with actor Bulbul Ahmed, Masud Karim produced two more cinema films: Wada and Bhalo Manush. While he began producing a coloured cinema film, Phulmati, based on the story written by Mr. Nazmul Alam, former Assistant Director of Radio Pakistan. Masud Karim invited this writer to see audition of artists in the studio of the Film Development Corporation. Unfortunately, the film remained incomplete because of financial constraints.

Masud Karim had written innumerable songs for cinema films of which the following films are worth mentioning: Hrido theke Hridoh, Rajanigandha, Bhanga Gora, Goriber Bow, Byathar Dan, Agni Konna, Putra Bodhu, Awara, Anurag, Wada, Jhumur, Bhalo Manush, etc. As many as fifteen thousand songs were written by Masud Karim. He was awarded national prizes in 1982 and 1994 for composing songs for the films: Hrido theke Hridoh and Rajanigandha.

From celluloid life Masud Karim moved to establishing a modern advertising firm at Purana Paltan jointly with partners, who was incidentally younger brother of close friend of mine Mr. Habibur Rahman, Joint Director of Academic Publisher. This writer was invited by Masud to listen to the story of the fraudulent act by his partner, but I was dumbfounded to see Masud Karim was starting smoking. Masud had begun his own advertising firm: Unique Advertiser which has left an indelible mark in the advertising arena. During critical time of his life Masud Karim suffered mentally and received heart injuries and underwent treatment, both at Dhaka and Bangkok but did not improve much.

While I was serving as Director in Western and Eastern Europe desk as well in Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993-1995, I was invited by his wife Dilara Alo to visit Masud Karim at their residence at Cantonment sometime in 1994 to help for visa to visit the United States for better treatment. As soon as I entered their cantonment residence Masud Karim was so excited to inform me that he saw in dream last night Prophet Muhammad (SM). It was a rare quality of a Muslim to see Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in dream. Masud was a devoted Muslim who presented a number of devotional songs like Hamd and Nath and patriotic and folk songs also. During his life time Masud Karim came in touch with Bhanubandyopadhy, Miranl Sen, Bhupen Hazarika, Soumitra Chattopadhyay, Gouriprasana Majumdar  and Shilpi Mahedi Hasan. Masud was shy, sincere in his purpose and honest.

Bangladesh lost a distinguished lyricist in the death of Masud Karim in Montreal in Canada on November 16 in 1996 thousand miles away from home, his sweet home. There is no place as sweet as home. Masud Karim was suffering from cancer. Masud Karim left behind his loving wife Dilara Alo, son Mahbubul Karim (Sohel), a chemical engineer from Texas, USA who also turned out to be a writer, both in Bangla and English, and three daughters and grandchildren. My hats off to his wife Dilara Alo for organising Masud Karim Smriti Padak by Masud Karim Memorial by awarding 33 personalities, including singers, dancers, music composers and lyricists on March 13 in 2016 at Shilpa Kala Academy under the chairmanship of Tarana Halim, State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications.


Mohammad Amjad Hossain, retired diplomat from Bangladesh, writes from Virginia, USA

Email: amjad.21@gmail.com

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