One of the seasoned Rabindra Sangeet singers of Bangladesh Adity Mohsin, who has nurtured a rare sophistication throughout her music career, is now a revered name. With her distinctly melodious voice and unique singing style, Adity has won the hearts of music lovers both at home and abroad. Karoby Shihab of New Age has recently spoken to the singer to peer into her student life at Santiniketan and how Rabindra Sangeet stitched a new meaning onto her life and career.
At the encouragement of her parents, Adity Mohsin started to take music lessons from Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts, she was in class six then.
As a beginner she learnt the basics of music and took especial lessons on Rabindra Sangeet at the institute.
‘I had to learn almost all types of songs during that time including a few Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrul Geeti, classical, folk and others. I enjoyed singing but never thought of becoming a professional singer,’ said Adity Mohsin as she remembered her early life.
‘Back in our time middle-class families wanted to involve their children in extracurricular activities like singing, dancing, painting and other forms of arts. My parents picked singing for me. And with their support I started my journey,’ she added.
On July 25, 1973 Adity Mohsin was born in Dhaka. Adity was a very calm, quiet and an introverted child. She continued her regular studies along with attending classes at Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts.
Under eminent music composers Abdul Ahad and Fazle Nizami Adity, she completed her diploma in Rabindra Sangeet in 1988 from BAFA.
Being the youngest of the family, Adity received extra care and adore from all. She has three elder brothers who were protective about their sister.
Her mother Hosneara Khan used to inspire her to enter into the music arena. And later when she received an ICCR scholarship, her father Nur Mohsin Khan encouraged her to pursue a degree from Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, India.
Adity Mohsin was studying in English in the University of Dhaka when she got the opportunity to pursue music study in India.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations - ICCR scholarship was the turning point of her life.
‘Though I got the opportunity, the thought of going far away from home for a long period made me upset at the beginning. Besides, my family was tensed as well. But they encouraged me a lot. Later I set my mind to it and packed my bags to start a new phase in my life at Visva-Bharati University,’ Adity recalled.
In 1993, Adity Mohsin got admission at the institution famous for art and music to study music. She chose Rabindra Sangeet as her major subject.
First few months were tough for Adity as she had to cope with new people in an unknown environment. However, soon she adapted to the new life and started enjoying her stay.
‘The campus of Visva-Bharati University is totally different. It is a renowned educational institution founded by Rabindranath Tagore. As expected, the place had a poetic touch in every corner. If anybody wants to feel Rabindranath Tagore at close quarters, he or she must visit the campus. It will give a surreal experience,’ Adity Mohsin explained about Visva-Bharati University.
The singer has passed seven years in the campus. She has experienced a unique bonding among the teachers and students there. But with time many traditions have been lost — there have a gradual loss of quality at Shantiniketan, Adity added.
‘Things are changing gradually. Once the students used to walk around the ashram barefooted and girls used to wear sari on a regular basis. But the practice has faded over the years,’ said Adity with a hint of regret in her voice.
However, during her time, nature was simply overwhelming and Adity used to drown herself into the beauty of nature all the time.
‘Seven years is a long time to know a place. It was a whole new experience for me. The place gave me a lot of new lessons in life which helped me to grow and be successful as a singer,’ pointed out Adity Mohsin cherished.
Apart from classes, she used to enjoy with her friends the informal sessions of drowning into music. Especially, students of music, dance and drama used to attend classes on open field under a huge tree.
‘I had chance to see giants of the music world at close quarters. At different occasions, renowned artistes used to come and perform. Their singing style and voice used to amaze me,’ said the singer.
Adity Mohsin took lessons from eminent Rabindra Sangeet singer of India pandit Kanika Banerjee and Nilima Sen.
‘Kanika Banerjee was known to us as Mohar di. She had a down to earth personality. Usually senior students used to get a chance to take lessons under her supervision. But, I was lucky that I got the chance to be very close to her in spite of being a junior student. Once I got an opportunity to sing at a programme titled ‘Tasher Ghor’. After that, I got access to visit Mohar di’s home. She used to adore us a lot, especially the non-Indian students, due to the fact that we got admission at Visva-Bharati leaving our homes and countries behind,’ said Adity Mohsin, harking back to her student days.
‘In 1998, when I almost finished my course and I was about to be back to Bangladesh, Visva-Bharati University honoured prime minister Sheikh Hasina with DLitt degree. At the award-giving ceremony I was selected to perform songs. It is one of my memorable moments of my life. The programme was aired in different broadcasting platform including BTV,’ Adity recalled.
She stood first class first in both her bachelor and master degrees in Visva-Bharati University. Adity received ‘Debabrata Smriti Award’ for her outstanding result during her bachelor degree.
Earlier, Adity Mohsin completed her matriculation from Shaheed Bir Uttam Lieutenant Anwar Girls’ College and intermediate from Holy Cross College, Dhaka.
During her educational journey at Visva-Bharati University she used to visit Bangladesh more often and became an enlisted singer of BTV in 1994. Even before that she became enlisted in Bangladesh Betar as well.
In 1998, she finally came back to Bangladesh and continued singing in different programmes. Besides she used to sing for BTV as well.
Right after coming back Adity got an offer for singing at the national conference of Jatiyo Rabindra Sangeet Sammelan Parishad. Later she started getting calls for different renowned organisations including Shilpakala Academy and others.
‘My emergence as singer did not happen in a dramatic way. After I started singing, I started getting calls from different places. I was blessed. I did not have to run after people. The offers came to me and I picked according to my comfort,’ said Adity Mohsin.
With devotion and desire, Adity could achieve her current position as a singer, she feels.
She has been singing for over two decades now.
Faced with the question why she decided to pick Rabindra Sangeet among the other genres she replied – ‘I have seen the practice of Rabindranath Tagore’s works at home from my childhood. In a nutshell, I have grown up listening to Rabindra Sangeet and reading the works of the great poet. Later when I allowed admission at BAFA, I found Rabindra Sangeet more suitable for me to sing. Later in Visva-Bharati University, I became sure that I wanted to pursue this genre,’ she said.
The works of Rabindranath Tagore have a tremendous impact on Bengali people, Adity thinks.
‘Rabindra Sangeet can portray the emotions intensely. The poet has left us with gifts of songs, novels, poems which relate to almost every situation of our life,’ she said.
Adity Mohsin thinks that to understand the inner meaning of Rabindranath Tagore’s creation is important to celebrate life and to have a different point of view on life.
In 2002, Adity Mohsin’s first solo music album titled ‘Amar Mon Cheye Roy’was released from Bengal Foundation. The album featured ten Rabindra Sangeet.
Throughout the last two decades, over 10 solo albums of Adity were released under the banner of different renowned organisations including Bengal Foundation, Bhabna Records, HMV and others.
Besides, she has rendered songs in different mixed albums with other eminent singers.
On different occasions around Bangladesh and India, only the popular and most-played songs of Rabindranth Tagore are performed. Apart from these songs, Rabindranath Tagore has penned hundreds of songs which are not much known to people. New Age posed a question to the seasoned singer as to what steps or initiatives should be taken to change the scenario.
‘I agree that in most cases we perform popular Rabindra Sangeets only. I don’t blame the audiences. It is our duty to provide quality entertainment to create a rich audience. We have to help them so that they can compare what is good or bad,’ Adity Mohsin observed.
Nowadays, involving foreign artistes has become a common practice during any occasions or festivals. Adity has some thoughts on it.
‘Involving foreign artistes is not a problem but ignoring local artistes is definitely a matter of concern. Organisers should provide platforms for local singers too as they have potentials and they need chances to display their talent. I perform both in Bangladesh and abroad. Other artistes should have an equal opportunity to perform on various platforms, I believe,’ she said.
Currently, Adity Mohsin is faced with a hectic schedule as she is busy doing different stage shows. Apart from Bangladesh she has performed in India, USA, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Canada and other countries.
‘Performing abroad for the immigrant Bengali people gives me a different experience. In those countries they do not get much scope to enjoy Bangla culture. Whenever they find artistes like us they become overwhelmed,’ the singer shared her experience of performing abroad.
Adity Mohsin has worked as a playback singer as well. She has rendered her voice with prominent singer Bappa Mazumder in a song for film ‘Ekti Cinemar Galpa’, directed by noted actor Alamgir. Besides in another film she rendered ‘O Amar Desher Mati’, one of the famous patriotic songs.
Adity has lent her voice to Dr Nawajesh Ahmed’s documentary on Rabindranath Tagore.
For her contribution to Rabindra Sangeet, AdityMohsin has been honoured with numerous prestigious awards, including Ananya Shirsha Dosh Award, Citycell-Channel i Music Award and others.
The eminent singer does not get much time for her to enjoy leisure. Whenever she gets spare time, she spends times by listening to music. Watching movies are also her favourite pastime.
‘I listen to Rabindra Sangeet most of the times, besides I enjoy classical music a lot,’ said Adity.
She enjoys spending time with her only son Shreyan.
At the end of the interview, at her current home in Dhanmondi in the capital, Adity expressed her gratitude to her fans and followers.
‘An artiste gets recognition from the people. We are what they make us. I am always grateful for their love. I want to add one thing for my audiences. Building the habit of listening to good music is very important. It is not a matter of a day only. It takes time to understand quality music. I will request them to explore more quality singers and the literary arena of Bangla culture,’ she said.
Adity Mohsin thinks that Rabindra Sangeet is not just a form of music, it is an artistic genre which should be nurtured with complete devotion.
Inclusion of loud sounds using new musical instruments is not necessary to attract the audience. Melody of actual music can leave a mark on audiences’ mind, thinks Adity Mohsin.
Photos by Abdullah Apu
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