The Symphony of Our Times
Cultural events on campus
The media of these lively links were national and foreign books, publications, magazines, daily newspaper, radio news and analysis, spellbinding classical films and quick and frequent lively intellectual exchanges with friends and class fellows. These were the wide avenues through which world music and films came close to us.
The king of rock music Elvis Presley, the prominent and popular members of the Beatles, film star Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Greta Garbo, Catherine Hepburn, Stewart Granger, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Bob Hope, Yul Brynner, Omar Sharif, Charlton Hesston, Rock Hudson, William Holden, Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Robert Tailer, Sir Lawrence Oliver, James Mason, Peter O'Toole, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Marylin Monroe, Vanessa Redgrave, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Bridgitte Bardot, Meleni Mascuri, Troy Donahue, Dirk Bogarde, Sidney Potier, all and many others became part and parcel of the rich and varied world of our thrilling youth.
From 1947, the West Bengal state of Indian Union became politically separated from the land now constituting Bangladesh. Nevertheless, cultural and literary exchanges between the two went on virtually unhindered in various fields such as novels, short stories, poems, music and films. During the 1950s and 1960s, the creative literature, music theatre and films of West Bengal formed part and parcel of the cultural consciousness of Dhaka University students.
All the significant and popular films of West Bengal especially those in which the legendary romantic duo Suchitra Sen and Uttam Kumar featured such as Agni Pariksha, Sagarika, Sabar Upare, Saptapadi, Horano Sur, etc deeply moved the minds of the students of the Dhaka University and other educational institutions of the territory. Similarly, the songs of famous West Bengali vocalist created lasting resonance among the youth. Particularly popular were famous singers: Hemanta Mukherjee, Digen Mukherjee, Manobendra Mukherjee, Manna Dey, Satinath Banerjee, Sandhya Mukherjee, Shyamal Mitra, Dhananjay Banerjee, Alpona Banerjee, Jagonmoy Mitra, Utpola Sen and many others.
The constant companions of thought and imagination of young men and women of that time were the Bombay (Mumbai)-centric Hindi films and their melodious music. Among the charming films were Awara, Andaz, Aan, Mohal, Parsai, Kismat, Daag, Mela, Jaal, CID, Taxi Driver, etc. The fabled heroes of Bombay movies such as Ashok Kumar, KL Saigal, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapur, Kishore Kumar, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt and others. The enchanting heroines of Hindi films Suraiya, Nargis, Madhubala, Vaijayanthimala, Jaya Bhaduri and others became near and dear to the youth of the 1950s and the 1960s.
Shakespeare, Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, national and international giants of literature and culture, created a generous, colourful and a brilliantly-lit context. Its charming radiance was reflected in the life and works of the world's creative titans such as Howard Fast, Robert Frost, Stephen Spender, Arthur Koestler, Bishnu Dey, Sudhindranath Datta, Jasim Uddin, Farruque Ahmed, Shamsur Rahman, Al Mahmud, Abu Hena Mustafa Kamal, Md Moniruzzaman, Syed Shamsul Haque and others. Our experience was enriched also by the poets and writers of the 'Beat Generation'.
Prominent among them were EE Cummings and Carl Ginsburg. The advocates of existentialism Jean-Paul Sartre and his companion Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus and others built through their literary works, a world of wonderful and irresistible charm. This profoundly moved the young men and women of the 1960s and the 1970s.
A lively surrounding was erected by energetic, zealous and restless friends and class fellows. Close friends Shahed Kamal, Jahangir Muhammad Jashim, Shahed Latif, Masum Ahmed Choudhury, Jamilur Reza Choudhury, Aga Kohinoor Alam, Masud Ahmed, Mahbub Alam Selim, Enamul Haque, Mia Muhammad Nuruzzaman, Mohiuddin Mahmud Hafiz, Ataur Rahman Khan Kaiser, Shamsur Rahman, Abul Monjur, Abdul Baki, Syed Abdus Samad, Ahbab Ahmed, Mahbub Talukder, MM Reza, Newaj-e-Khawja, Tofayel Sami, Shafi Sami, Md Habibullah, Tayebul Haque, Abdus Sattar, Abdul Jalil, Abdus Salam, Sadrel Reza, Quazi Masudul Haque, Komal (MH) Siddiqui, AKM Moshiur Rahman, Aziz Faruque Sarkar and others of unforgettable memory created a bright and happy circle of intimate friends and classmates. All became eager participants in the grand and dynamic togetherness.
It was a rewarding carnival from which no one returned empty-handed. All of them received enduring treasures of enriching consciousness of eternal knowledge. They also came to be adorned by a universal culture securely rooted in loving consciousness of the mother land. A highly attractive part of this mosaic of mixed culture was the touching music, tunes and songs of those times. Among these were timeless creations and music of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Modern songs were also popular. Among the notable exponents were reputed singers Anwar Uddin Khan, Mostafa Zaman Abbasi, Ferdousi Begum (Rahman), Haider Ali, Syed Abdul Hadi, Anjuman Ara, Jinat Rehana, Hamida Hoque, Farida Yasmin, Fouzia Yasmin, Nilufar Yasmin and others.
From 1959-60, the annual cultural and literary competitions of DUCSU and various residential halls laid the solid foundations of our intellectual and cultural exercise. These contests were usually held amid great enthusiasm during autumn or winter. All students, seniors or juniors, boys or girls could and did freely participate in these events. The newcomers often used to defeat their seniors and win the laurels. These competitions consisted of writing creative essays, short stories, poems, debates recitation, extempore and set speech, etc.
During the competitions which were often held simultaneously in different halls, the competitors used to run from one to the other in a bid to score as many wins as they could. In consequence, one or two industrious competent and lucky students own the championship or runners-up prizes in more than one halls? There is no doubt that these contests made the participating students skilful in writing and public speaking and thus prepare them for able and active careers. These vibrant platforms of flowering of talents, in fact, worked to present the country with many reputed and noted orators, musical artists, literatures and cultural personalities.
Two particular platforms played a vital role in developing the intellectual and literary talents of some friends and classmates of close circles. One of these was the Chakrabak. As already described earlier, it was the literary group that a few of our friends started from our college days. Regular sessions of reading out and discussing self-composed poems and writings were held. As earlier noted, members of Chakrabak were Shahed Kamal, Shahed Latif, Masud Ahmed, Masum Ahmed Choudhury, Rezaur Rahman (Naku), Aziz Faruque Sarkar (Bilu) and Aga Kohinoor Alam and me.
Dr Mizanur Rahman Shelley, founder Chairman of Centre for Development Research (CDRB), and former technocrat Cabinet Minister of Bangladesh, died on August 12 last. He contributed his writeups to the Daily Observer which are being published regularly as "The Symphony of Our Times".