Remembering Nazrul, a poet par excellence

Kazi Nazrul Islam
File photo

Friday marked the 45th death anniversary of national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, widely revered for his limitless contribution to Bengali literature.

To commemorate the life and works of the rebel poet, different organisations and institutions organised multiple programmes throughout the day.

In the morning, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs paid its tribute to the poet by placing floral wreaths on his grave by the Dhaka University Central Mosque.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, cultural affairs secretary Md Abul Monsur, Bangla Academy director general Nurul Huda, Bangla Academy secretary AHM Lokman, Kabi Nazrul Institute executive director Mohammad Zakir Hossain paid tributes to the rebel poet.

Around 10:00am, a webinar was organised by Kabi Nazrul Institute, followed by a cultural programme. The online programmes -- streamed live on the institute’s Facebook page -- was joined by Khalid as the chief guest while Secretary Mansur and Kazi Nazrul’s granddaughter Khilkhil Kazi were virtually present as special guests.

Kabi Nazrul Institute’s trustee board member Sayeda Motahara Banu and cultural affairs additional secretary Manirul Alam also participated in the discussions at the virtual programme, presided over by the institute’s executive director Mohammad Zakir Hossain.

Freedom, humanity, love and revolution are the constant themes in Kazi Nazrul’s majestic literary creations. He was against all sorts of religious, caste-based, and gender-based discrimination and extremism

Dhaka University also organised a virtual event at 10.30 in the morning. Presided over by vice-chancellor Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman, the programme was joined by national professor Rafiqul Islam.

Bangla Academy is also slated to hold a virtual event on its Facebook page at 4:00pm, which will be joined by Khalid as the chief guest. The event will be chaired by Bangla Academy Chairman, national professor Rafiqul Islam, while director general Nurul Huda will deliver the welcome speech.

Professor Syed Azizul Huq will read an essay at the event, while professor Khaled Hossain will participate in the discussion.

The country’s leading cultural institution, Chhayanaut will also stream an online programme, ‘Milone Birohe Nazrul’, on its Facebook group and YouTube channel at 9:00pm.

Besides, several television channels, radio stations and online platforms will broadcast special programmes commemorating the life and works of Kazi Nazrul.

Known and regarded as the ‘rebel poet’ for his iconoclastic and majestic literary creations, Kazi Nazrul was born in Churulia village of Burdwan in the Indian state of West Bengal in 1899.

According to the Nazrul Institute, Kazi Nazrul wrote 2,600 songs, 600 poetry, three novels, and 43 articles in a career spanning 21 years before losing his speech.

After the death of his father, Kazi Nazrul obtained a job as a caregiver and also worked as a muezzin at a mosque to support his family. At the age of nine, he had to drop out of school to join a Churulia-based professional ‘leto’ company.

He was introduced to Bangali and Sanskrit literature while working for the group. He returned to school a year later and enrolled at Matharun English School, but dropped out again in Class VI due to poverty.

After a while, police officer Kazi Rafizullah took him in at his home in Trishal, Mymensingh, and enrolled him in Class-VII at Darirampur School.

Serving the British Army in 1917 as a soldier, Kazi Nazrul started his literary career within a few years. His cult-classic poem ‘Bidrohi’ (The Rebel) was published in 1921. A year later, he started a fortnightly magazine named ‘Dhumketu’ (The Comet).

His nationalist participation in the Indian Independence Movement landed him in the hands of colonial British authorities on several occasions.

While in prison, Kazi Nazrul authored the ‘Rajbandir Jabanbandi’ (Deposition of a Political Prisoner), and his creations later encouraged Bangladesh Liberation War.

Freedom, humanity, love and revolution are the constant themes in Kazi Nazrul’s majestic literary creations. He was against all sorts of religious, caste-based, and gender-based discrimination and extremism.

He wrote short stories, novels and essays, but his songs and poems are his most critically acclaimed literary creations. He popularised Bengali ghazal melodies, and is noted for his liberal usage of Arabic and Persian terms in his writings.

Kazi Nazrul created a new genre in music called ‘Nazrul Geeti’, a collection of 4,000 songs that he wrote and created the music for, many of which were recorded on HMV.

In 1942, Kazi Nazrul began to lose his voice and memory due to an unexplained ailment. Later, a medical team in Vienna identified his illness as Pick’s disease, a rare and incurable neurodegenerative disease.

His family travelled to Bangladesh at the invitation of then Bangladeshi government and settled down in Dhaka in 1972. For his iconic contribution to Bangla literature and culture, Dhaka University awarded him an honorary post-doctoral degree in 1974. He was awarded Ekushey Padak in 1976.

Kazi Nazrul breathed his last in Dhaka on 29 August, 1976.