Today is the 48th disappearance day of eminent singer, composer, social activist and freedom fighter Altaf Mahmud, who is celebrated for his composition of Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February.
Altaf Mahmud was abducted on August 30, 1971 by Pakistani occupation forces and never returned since then.
This correspondent has talked to a number of his contemporaries including Ekushey Padak winning director-producer-lyricist Gazi Mazharul Anwar, eminent composer Sheikh Sadi Khan, renowned singer Rafiqul Alam and popular lyricist Shahidullah Farayezi, who have shared their thoughts of Altaf Mahmud and recalled his contribution.
‘Altaf Mahmud was a leading music artiste of the country. He had made outstanding contribution during the Language Movement in 1952 and Liberation War in 1971. He composed Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February, which remains a signature song of Language Movement. His contribution during the tumultuous days of Liberation War cannot be forgotten. His composed songs, which were aired on Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, had greatly inspired the masses,’ Gazi Mazharul Anwar told New Age.
‘He was a very kind and patriotic person. I have worked with him and never saw him misbehaving with anyone. He had composed songs for Bangla films which got immense popularity among the music lovers along with people from all walks of life. He had composed and worked with most of the popular patriotic songs that were released during his lifetime. Though he was not a rich person, he was a man of values. While working with him for a film named Ka Kha Ga gha Uah we had five members for this project but he didn’t have enough money to contribute to it. I helped him. When the project finished, his driver came to me and gave me his car keys. When I called him, he said that it was a small gift for me because I had done a lot for him,’ Mazharul added.
‘Altaf Bhai was senior to me. I was greatly inspired by him and his works. He loved me a lot and had composed the famous song Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February along with many popular peoples songs. He enriched our playback songs during the ‘60s. He was a freedom-fighter who loved the country more than himself. He worked in Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. I played violin in his team. He had used violin, sitar, tabla at the same time in his composition which was new for us at that time,’ Sheikh Sadi Khan told New Age.
‘His passing away had left a huge void in the country’s music scene. It is a matter of great sorrow that he was abducted by the Pakistani occupation forces and after that we didn’t find any trace of him. I urge the young generation to follow his footsteps,’ Sadi added.
‘Altaf Mahmud pioneered modern Bangla songs in the country. Many of our noted music directors were greatly inspired by him. He had an outstanding role during Liberation War. He was directly involved in the Liberation War and gave shelter to many freedom fighters. He was a legendary music director and composer who had composed many patriotic and peoples songs. I was greatly inspired by his songs but I didn’t get the chance to meet him in person. I was fighting against the Pakistani occupation forces at another place,’ Rafiqul Alam told New Age.
‘He was directly involved in communism during the then Pakistan period. He raised his voice through composing stimulating songs. He had enriched our film music and tried to incorporate western orchestra in his compositions. His songs like Kalo rup koto rup is a landmark in modern Bangla songs. His stimulating songs like Aat e phalgun er katha amra bhuli nai and Agun Amar bhai were very famous among the masses. Back then I was living in Rajshahi town. I regularly heard his songs and was greatly inspired by him,’ said Rafiqul Alam.
‘Altaf Mahmud was an amazing music director of our country. He had reshaped our music industry. He will be remembered through his works. His contribution to country’s music industry cannot be forgotten. He was a dedicated freedom fighter and real patriot. His songs, which were aired on Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, greatly inspired the mass people during the tumultuous days of the Liberation War,’ said noted lyricist Shahidullah Farayezi.
Altaf Mahmud was born in Patarchar village in Barisal on December 23, 1933. Mahmud developed a passion for music in his early teens. He took his first music lessons from Suren Roy.
Mahmud came to Dhaka in 1950 and joined Dhumketu Shilpi Shongho.
In the mid-1960s, Mahmud began composing playback songs for films. He composed songs for films like Jibon Theke Neya, Kaise Kahu, Kar Bou, Tanha and others.
Mahmud took part in the Liberation War as a member of Dhaka Crack Platoon and also worked as a producer at the defunct Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra.
He created a hideout for freedom fighters at his house. However, the hideout was discovered by Pakistani occupation forces and Altaf Mahmud was abducted on August 30, 1971.
Mahmud was (posthumously) awarded the Ekushey Padak in 1977 and Independence Award in 2004.
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