Songs of Liberation

An extract from Daily Star article.

Bangladesh’s struggle for emancipation from the clutches of alien domination has a long and chequered history behind. The bud of Bangladeshi independence, whose fragrance was effectively perceived for the first time through the glorious Language Movement in 1952, sprouted in all its splendour into a full bloom through the War of Independence in 1971. It was a song – Amar Bhaier Raktey Rangano Ekushey February – with a haunting melody from a genius like Altaf Mahmood – which had always been a very important factor in keeping up the tempo of our long and gruelling struggle at right pitch. But it will be absolutely unjustified if we prepare any list of songs and melodies that helped to boost up the morale of the freedom-hungry Bangladeshis without first paying tributes to the memory of the two great maestros, Tagore and Nazrul, whose songs have become almost synonymous with the culture and tradition of Bangladesh.

The tremendous impact of Tagore songs on our daily activities, on our hopes and aspirations, and on our struggle for independence is known to one and all. Each change of the season, each aspect of our country’s landscape, every undulation of the human heart, in sorrow or in joy, has found its voice in some song of his. In our society, they are sung in religious gatherings no less than in concert halls. Patriots have mounted the gallows with his songs on their lips, and young lovers unable to express the depth of their feeling sing his songs and feel the weight of their dumbness relieved. Foolish attempts at minimizing his popularity in the sixties proved futile and to some extent counter-productive ¾ Bangladeshis very wisely “ignored the ignorant.” In 1971, people even risked their lives to listen to Tagore songs broadcast from the Swadhin Bangla Betar. The due recognition of Amar Sonar Bangla as the National Anthem of sovereign Bangladesh indeed testifies to the glorious contribution of Tagore and his songs to our Liberation Struggle.

Kazi Nazrul Islam, the ‘Great Rebel’, perhaps occupies a unique place in the history of struggle for emancipation. The songs of the indomitable Rebel, whom Tagore called “the mutinous child of the goddess of the Universe”, not only played a very vital role in our struggle for independence, but it also very effectively inspired and influenced freedom fighters in other parts of this sub-continent. He was undoubtedly a genius of the first water, and whether in prose or in poetry, our beloved Rebel could breathe fire like an avenging angel and warble, when the mood seized him, like a refreshing, sparkling mountain-stream. Vibrant words set to exhilarating music, his marching songs spread far and wide and inspired the oppressed and the depressed in every nook and corner of Bangladesh. But this was nothing new – even Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, while organizing the Indian National Army (INA) gratefully acknowledged : “On our way to the war – we shall sing Nazrul’s songs and proceed.” No wonder, the brilliant songs of Nazrul, whose rhythm heaves and swells like the demented waves of the sea lashed by wind, inspired the 75 million Bangladeshis, prepared their imagination for the glorious version of a sovereign state of their own, urging them to wake up from their slumber, to unite and to overthrow the foreign domination – by “tearing apart, piercing, smashing”, if necessary, even “the Sun, the Moon and the planets”. As a result, the valiant freedom fighters in 1971 braved the bullets smilingly and marched triumphantly towards emancipation and victory with the songs of the daring Rebel on their lips. Very few of us know that the songs which the Occupation Forces in 1971 banned comprised not only Tagore and folk songs but also included a good number of Nazrul songs like Karar Oi Loho Kapat, Bhenge Phyal, Kar Re Lopat. Incidentally, it was this ‘banned’ creation of the great maestro which was very rightly chosen as the first song to be broadcast from the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra in Mujibnagar on the 25th May, 1971. The wise and happy selection of Chal, Chal, Chal as the March Song of the Bangladesh Armed Forces very eloquently indicates and acknowledges the unsurpassable contribution of Nazrul and his songs to our historic struggle for independence.

Karar Oi Louho Kopat [Bangla & English Lyrics HD] 
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