Bangladesh’s Begum Iffat Ara Dewan created a poignant mood with some lilting Rabindra Sangeet.
A lover’s writings return with the changing of forest colours, the hues of spring, the autumn moon, even the winter’s bitterness evoke feelings of tender love, and every turn of phrase delights - from the gliding timbre of Rabindra Sangeet sung by Begum Iffat Ara Dewan of Bangladesh.
The audience at Chennai’s Kalakshetra recently expressed wondrous pleasure, repeatedly revelling in Tagore’s arresting tunes and style so reminiscent of Bengal and its beauty. Truly wonderful poetry in Begum’s soft voice captured lovers’ moods intricately.
‘Modhuro’ in Bengali means ‘sweetness’ and this was an evening full of sweet love and music. Begum Ara sang 19 songs, mostly of love.
The highlights were ‘Tumi Robey Nirobey’ (You burn inside me just like the full moon); ‘Ei Udashee Hawar Pothe’ (The breeze at this time of the year is poignantly dropping flowers, which I offer at your feet); and the lilting ‘Nayan Mele Dekhi’ (‘In the darkness of a spring night, I say goodbye to my beloved, who cries and makes me cry too’).
Begum Ara, Bangladesh’s foremost exponent of Rabindra Sangeet and old Bengali songs of the 1920s to 1960s, rendered each song faithfully in the soft, smooth gliding phrase turns imbibed from her teachers Waheedul Haque and Sanjida Khatun. Her musical journey began in the 1960s at Chayanaut, an institution in Dhaka.
Accompanying Begum Ara were Swagetan Das (tabla), who was a little loud, Surajit Roy (Esraj) Sitangshu Majumder (Keyboard), and Sanjiban Acharya (mandira). They added flavour to the evening of love, of forest wanderings, of the fascinating seasons, and of tears.