Legendary lyricist, director, producer and screenwriter Gazi Mazharul Anwar died at 6.30am today. He composed over twenty thousand songs during his illustrious career. Three of his songs are on the BBC’s list of the twenty best Bangla songs of all time. On his 78th birthday, The Daily Star interviewed multi-time National Film Award winner Ekushey Padak at his Baridhara residence in 2021.
Here we provide excerpts from the memorable interview.
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One of your books will be published on this happy occasion. Tell us a bit.
The book, “Olpo Kothar Golpo Gaan”, will feature 200 of my songs and the story behind the composition of 50 of my best-known melodies. Readers will learn much more about me and my background through this book. My children, Upol and Dithi, always wanted me to publish a book that would document my work so far and preserve it for the future. This book is the beginning of that series, and I hope my pen won’t run out of ink before it runs out of life.
How has your family contributed to your success?
I have led a happy and contented life. I have a son and a daughter, and now I also have a daughter-in-law. They all appreciate my work from the bottom of their hearts. My wife, Zohra Gazi, was a very popular news anchor and television host. She is also a record holder in jumping and a very popular athlete. We married in 1972 and since that day I have seen her completely devoted to raising my children and taking care of this family. She gave so much to me and I couldn’t be more grateful to her. My family is the pillar of my success.
Do you have any regrets?
I have no regrets in life. I have been writing for over five decades and have won numerous awards including the Ekushey Padak, the National Film Awards, and the President’s Gold Medal. However, I believe that no one works for awards and neither do I, but receiving such great honors has always inspired me to work better.
How did you find the legendary song “Joy Bangla, Banglar Joy”?
When the Nation Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman first said “Joy Bangla” while declaring our war of liberation, we felt the urge to regain our freedom. That evening, I was sitting with my mentor, Mr. Salahudddin, in a studio at Farmgate. He urged me to start working on something that keeps the slogan “Joy Bangla” from fading. I immediately started formulating the song in my mind and called musician Anwar Pervez to the studio. I also asked Shahnaz Rahmatullah and Abdul Jobbar to join me in the studio.
In the meantime, the famous composer Altaf Mahmud entered the studio and insisted on playing the song. He was very happy and immediately started working on it. Soon Anwar Pervez, Shahnaz Rahmatullah, Alauddin Ali and Abdul Jobbar came into the studio and we all made this song from scratch.
How did you start writing for the cinema?
Satya Saha was my mentor and my inspiration. Thanks to his affection and his love, I began to write for the cinema. He had taken me once to meet Subhash Dutta. I was very young at that time. They explained the theme of the song to me and told me to write a romantic number. I suddenly found the line “Akasher Haathe Ache Ekrash Nil” and Satya Saha started composing it. Subhash Dutta was very happy with the song. That’s how I got into the movie industry.
Do you think we are losing touch with our roots in songs, movies and dramas today?
Poet Rabindranath Tagore used to say that music should be brought into families and it might lose its magic if songs stray from homes. This is why Rabindranath-Nazrul’s compositions have become timeless, spreading throughout the country from their homes. If we lose touch with our roots and our culture, how can we hope to be ourselves?