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KAZI NAZRUL ISLAM
Kazi Nazrul Islam was a poet, short story writer, speaker, newspaper editor, a film actor, a freedom fighter and a political worker of Bengal. He was also a fine lyricist and a musician with many new ragas and talas to his credit. He was born on May 24, 1899 in a very poor family at the village of Churulia in Burdwan district of West Bengal. After coming out of school in 1912-13, he joined the Kabi troupe of Basudeva for a short period. During 1917-19, he joined the army as a recruit to the Bengali Regiment but returned to Calcutta in March 1920 after the Bengali Regiment was disbanded.
Kazi Nazrul Islam's first two significant poems Pralayollas and Vidroho appeared early in 1922. His first book of poems Agnivina was published in the same year and was received with great enthusiasm. After Agnivina his best known books of poems and songs are Dolonchampa (1923), Biser Bansi (1924), Bhangar Gan (1924), Puber Haoya (1925) and Bulbul (1928). He has to his credit more than 20 books of poetry, songs, fiction and plays. He brought the harsh reality of the life of the common man to literature. He extensively focussed on all kinds of oppression in the social life. He wrote over 2,680 songs, setting almost all of them to a tune and established himself as one of the greatest lyricists and composers of the sub-continent. Some of his songs based on some well-known Hindustani bandish are replete with exquisite poetic beauty. He successfully adapted a large range of musical styles prevalent in North India like Dhrupad, Khayal, Tappa, Thumri and Dadra along with Kajri, Chaiti, and Rasia.
His creative life was spread over a period of a little over 22 years from March 1920 to July 1942. During the last phase of his creative life, he retrieved many lost and forgotten ragas and wrote Bengali songs composed in these ragas. He created 17 new ragas and wrote songs based on them. He also created 11 new talas. He composed six 'Lakshan geets'. He used more than 200 ragas in his compositions, the largest by any lyricist or composer in the Bengali. He also introduced a special category of songs on awakening, patriotism and struggle for freedom from oppression. His songs on communal harmony, socialistic inspiration and economic freedom are worth a special mention. His song 'Durgama giri kantara maru', written in 1926, still remains unparalleled in its lyric, tune and aesthetic excellence. He also successfully introduced ghazals in Bengali. He also composed several devotional and religious songs. The deeply emotional and charming tunes of his Islamic songs have made them very popular both among the Muslims as well as the Hindus. Despite being a Muslim, he created several Bhajans, Shyama sangeets, Agamanis and Kirtans. Nazrul was one of the founders and the most important composers of Bengali modern songs. His songs based on baul, jhumur, Santhali folksongs, jhanpan or the folk songs of snake charmers, bhatiali and bhaoaia consist of tunes of folk-songs on the one hand and a refined lyric with poetic beauty on the other. After a prolonged period of illness he died on August 29, 1976 at the age of 77.