Cultural arena mourns the death of Abdur Rahman BoyatiCultural Correspondent
Cultural arena mourns the death of Ekushey Padak winning iconic folk singer Abdur Rahman Boyati who died of old-age complications at the Japan Bangladesh Friendship Hospital on Monday morning at the age of 74.
Cultural activists termed the death of the internationally acclaimed baul singer as a great loss in a difficult time when the traditional music is facing a huge challenge posed by the satellite culture.
They also lamented not being able to help the artiste in bad times during his last days.
Born in 1939 at Doyaganj in Old Dhaka, Abdur Rahman Boyati started practicing mystic songs at an early stage. He was introduced to the mystic dehatatya genre (which searches the existence of the Lord in the body of human beings) from mystic bard Alauddin Boyati.
Rahman Bayati upheld the spirit of the philosophy throughout his life and works.
In his long kaleidoscopic journey of over five decades in music, Abdur Rhman Boyati released around 500 solo albums and 200 mixed albums.
In 1982, Abdur Rahman Boyati formed his own troupe named Abdur Rahman’s group, which travelled the whole country and also performed around 40 countries across the world including USA, UK, former Soviet Union, China, Japan, Austria, Canada, India, and Australia.
Perhaps he was the only Bangladeshi singer who got the rare invitation to perform in the White House in the USA being invited by the former American president senior George W Bush in 1990.
For his unique presentation style, he was recognised more as a singer than a baul. ‘He was a “postmodern singer”, who always inspired me as a musician. Since my childhood I wished I could perform like him,’ said eminent composer Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul, who claims Rahman Boyati as his idol.
‘He developed a unique style of performing live in concerts. His gestures, movements and speeches while rendering mystic songs were simply unparalleled. He represented the rich tradition of the country abroad. In fact, his band showed how traditional baul songs should be presented for the international audience,’ Bulbul added.
Another renowned musician Sujeo Shyam said, ‘He was a noble soul. He used to present the song of the soil and carried the spirit within,’ Shyam said.
Abdur Rahman Boyati’s peers also recognise him as a unique singer. ‘He was a brilliant performer who used to render from the soul,’ renowned baul singer Arif Dewan said.
Another popular singer Abdul Kuddus Boyati considers Rahman Boyati as his mentor.
In 1995, Abdur Rahman Boyati worked with a popular band Feedback that experimented on Boyati’s signature song Mon amar dehoghori. ‘It was a pleasure for all of us to work with Abdur Rahman. He was a good soul, a true musician and singer, who upheld our tradition’, composer of the band Foad Naser Babu said.
‘We released an album of the fusion work titled Dehoghori featuring 10 times repetition of the same song. The album was sold beyond our expectation,’ he added.
Abdur Rahman Boyati also lent voice in hundreds of playbacks in Dhallywood films and used to perform in Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television. ‘He used to render songs from the heart, which could touch souls of the people from all walks of life. He entered into the industry after the independence of the country and became a leading playback singer later’ eminent film actor Faruk said.
Supplementing Faruk, renowned film director Chashi Nazrul Islam said, ‘His songs made many films hit. Those who are experimenting with sufi music these days should follow him.’
Rahman Boyati also acted in a film named Ashati released in 1990. ‘He was my friend and in response to my request he enacted the character of a baul,’ director of Ashati Md Hafizuddin said.
Bangladesh Film Development Corporation’s managing director Pijush Bandyopadhyay said, ‘The brilliant singer took a bold stance to uphold the heritage when the traditional cultural practice is somehow in turmoil. The young generation should follow him.’
The singer, however, suffered a lot during his last years because of severe financial constraints. He could barely afford the expenses for treatment of his prolonged neurological and urological problems.
Fellow singers called it an irony that the people who entertain others die uncared for after suffering a lot.
‘We could not help him,’ lamented Sammilito Sanskritik Jote president Nasiruddin Yusuff.
Composer Sejeo Shyam said he considers it a sad reality in this country.
‘Everyone shows interest only after the death of an artiste, but one never gets the needed support during one’s lifetime,’ he said.
‘It happens for most singers and Rahman Boyati was no exception,’ he said.
Chashi Nazrul Islam echoed saying, ‘’It’s true that the state honours the brilliant people but it’s equally cruel that the state does not care when they suffer in their old age.’
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