Remembering Bulbul Chowdhury

Tanzil Rahaman | Published: 00:00, May 17,2020


Bulbul Chowdhury

Late modern dance pioneer and choreographer Bulbul Chowdhury made immense contribution to the local dance scene with his timeless creations. He taught and ignited passion for dance in a new generation of torchbearers who have furthered our dance scene by leaps and bounds.

Today is the 66th death anniversary of Bulbul Chowdhury, fondly called Nrityacharya. This correspondent spoke to a number of leading dance artistes who have shared their thoughts of Bulbul Chowdhury and recalled his contribution.

Bangladesh Dance Artistes’ Association president Minu Haque said, ‘Bulbul Chowdhury was a dance pioneer in the then East Pakistan. He made immense contribution to local dance scene and many Muslim girls were inspired by him to pursue dance. If it hadn’t been for him, our dance wouldn’t be where it is today.’

‘It is unfortunate that no annual programme is organised by the cultural affairs ministry in remembrance of Bulbul Chowdhury. Only Bangladesh Dance Artistes’ Association celebrated his birth anniversary previously. He didn’t get the recognition he deserved. He was posthumously awarded the Independence Award but more needs to be done. The government should celebrate his birth anniversary organising a colourful event every year,’ Minu Haque added.

Acclaimed dancer Laila Hasan said, ‘We are all following in Bulbul Chowdhury’s footsteps. He was a self-taught dance artiste. I proposed conferring on him the title of Nrityacharya at his birthday celebration programme in 2012 when I was the president of Bangladesh Dance Artistes’ Association. Everyone present at the event agreed to the proposal right away.’

‘He was not only a great dancer but also a playwright, actor, lyricist and poet. He suffered from financial difficulties in his later years. Most of his works were not preserved,’ added Laila Hasan.

Renowned male dancer Shibli Mohammad pointed out, ‘Bulbul Chowdhury is an inspiration to all male dancers. Back in the day, it was very difficult for a male individual to pursue dance. He established himself as a dance pioneer against all odds. I can imagine what he went through. When I announced of pursuing a career in dance after obtaining a degree in physics, I was questioned by many about my career choice.’

Rashid Ahmed Chowdhury, known by his stage name Bulbul Chowdhury, was born in Chattogram on January 1 in 1919. In his career spanning over two decades, Chowdhury wrote and choreographed around 70 dance dramas.

He established Calcutta Culture Centre on March 31 in 1941. After the partition of India, he settled in Dhaka and was declared as the national dancer of the then Pakistan in 1949. Between 1950 and 1952, Chowdhury performed in dance concerts across Pakistan. In 1953, with his troupe, he visited many European countries including Britain, Ireland, Holland, Belgium and France.

He passed away on May 17 in 1954.

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