Gazi Mazharul Anwar: How he became a songwriter instead of a doctor

  • Shahnaz Parveen
  • BBC Bangla, Dhaka

2 hours ago

Image caption,

Gazi Mazharul Anwar wrote more than twenty thousand songs.

In the days when the people of Bangladesh listened to the radio to listen to their favorite songs, when there was only one television channel in the country, songs composed by Gazi Mazharul Anwar were heard many times a day.

Gazi Mazharul Anwar, the composer of many patriotic songs of Bangladesh, passed away on Sunday morning.

His family informed that he was ill for some time. He was taken to the hospital when he felt sick in the morning. He breathed his last there. Gazi Mazharul Anwar was 79 years old.

He is also a film director, producer, lyricist of many popular film songs. Gazi Mazharul Anwar was also involved in politics.

But for five decades, he has roamed the world of Bangladeshi music with great glory.

The special days of the Liberation War which are celebrated at different times of the year are played all over the country by his writing, ‘Jai Bangla Banglar Jai’.

‘The sky is in the hands of a blue sky’, ‘Writing notation in the book of songs’, ‘Ekstar tui kabal ke das ra ebara’, ‘My mind says you will come’, ‘A river has crossed blood’, ‘From the shore of the sea’, ‘This mind I gave you’, ‘Ami Rajnigandha phule kait’ – he is the lyricist of timeless songs that touched countless hearts.

In the year 2066 BBC Bangla’s list of greatest Bengali songs of all time was nominated by his three songs ‘Joy Bangla Banglar Joy’, ‘Ekbar Jana De Na Amar Kotto Sonar Gaon’, ‘Ektara Tui Desh Katha Bal’.

How to write songs by hand

He began studying medicine in the early sixties. In a conversation with BBC Bangla in 2013, he said that he used to write poems in wall papers since he was in school in his native Comilla.

Describing how writing poetry turned him into a song writer, he said, “After passing intermediate, when I got admission in medical college, there was going to be a play. It required a song. The song was supposed to be written by Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal Sahib, who was famous at that time. But he could not write the song due to lack of time. So I told the director of the play at that time if you want you can give me a try. Then I wrote a song.”

image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

In his songs, patriotism, the liberation war of Bangladesh, the story of people’s lives have come up. (symbol image)

That song was later sung by famous artist Farida Yasmin. That’s how he made his debut as a songwriter on radio.

“She (Faridah Yasmin) told me one day that I want to sing this song on the radio. I was very excited. Although I was not credited as the writer of that song. I got a bug in my head that I could write a song. People chase fortune. But Luck can come either way. So I stuck with it.”

Vyas has since tried to write songs for Radio Pakistan and for five decades his songs have featured patriotism, the liberation war of Bangladesh, stories of people’s lives, love and hatred. These are the things that most inspire him to write songs, he told BBC Bangla.

Some of the top artistes of Bangladesh have risen in the music careers of his songs. Late singer Shahnaz Rahmatullah, Runa Laila, Syed Abdul Hadi, Sabina Yasmin gave voice to many of his popular songs.

The first song that marked the debut of singer Runa Laila in Bangladeshi film music was ‘Ganerei Khatay Swarlipi’ written by her.

Gazi Mazharul Anwar was also a film director. He has directed more than fifteen films and produced more than twenty films.

Memories of Sabina Yasmin

Reminiscing about him, Sabina Yasmin told BBC Bangla, “I have many memories with him over many years. But my most fun memory is acting in his movies. I sing. I have never acted. He forced me to act in one of his movies. I am an artiste and my character in that film was also an artiste. It will be a memory for me forever.”

Bengali movies

image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

He is the composer of many popular songs of Bengali films.

About her favorite song written by Gazi Mazharul Anwar, Sabina Yasmin said, “There are so many great songs, it’s hard to pick a favourite. But if I had to say one of his songs that I hum most often, it’s ‘If You Know Me’.” . The song was sung for the movie Harjit. An incredibly beautiful song. The melody is as written.”

Gazi Mazharul Anwar wrote more than twenty thousand songs. He told BBC Bangla about how his songbook became so full, “There was a time when there were television music directors, many established film music directors, they didn’t want anyone to sing other than me. That’s why a few songs were written every day. Many songs. The words are no longer even in my collection. Lost.”

The Lost Game

Records of many radio songs were lost during the war of liberation. Many songbooks were also lost that year.

Although his career began in radio, as a songwriter he later wrote many songs for other mediums. A big part of it was film songs.

Gazi Mazharul Anwar wrote some spiritual songs like ‘Sabai Bale Boy Bade Aami Boli Komere’, ‘Achhen Amar Moktar’ at the peak of success.

In that interview with BBC Bangla, he said that when he wanted to quit his medical studies because of his passion for writing songs, his father wrote him a letter saying, “You are my lost game.”

Before his father’s death, he received the Ekushey Padak as the composer of many classic songs of Bangladesh. His father then told him one more thing, “What I told you in a letter is not correct. His way is true.”

Ghazi Mazharul Anwar told BBC Bangla.

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Rezaul Karim’s collection of rare musical instruments

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