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The Return of Laili II : Selected Songs of Kazi Nazrul Islam
Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam was born in West Bengal, India, in the year 1899. From a young age, he exhibited signs of brilliance in composing poems for a folk based group called letore. He had training in Arabic and Persian from his Uncle Bazle Karim, who noticed his flair. When he was in grade nine, he appeared for the army recruitment test and in 1917 he joined the British army. After coming back from the war, he worked as a journalist and wrote a book titled ‘Bhangar gan’, where Nazrul wrote some poems expressing rebellion against the British occupation of India and angry outbursts of captive life. His salient message was of communal harmony and equality. He was termed the `Rebel’ poet. Those were the poems which were first sung as songs and also recorded as ‘inspirational songs’. Later, Nazrul started writing songs in the style of Persian ghazals (1926) and produced some of his best creations in terms of lyrics and music composition around those times. During the years 1930 and 1931 poet Kazi Nazrul Islam started writing songs titled ‘bhajan’ ‘shyama sangeet’ etc, pertaining to Hindu beliefs. Around the same time he wrote songs for those believing in Islam. He was an ambidextrous genius, providing deep insight into the two major religions of the sub continent. In the next phases of his life, in 1932-33 Nazrul wrote many folk songs and modern songs (also called contemporary songs) where he borrowed tunes from the music of other countries. In the later stages of his literary/musical life, that is in 1938-39 he worked for the Kolkata Radio and produced series of programmes experimenting (in Bangla) with rare ragas in the Hindustani classical music. Many of these songs and the tunes were lost, only a few records were available when he became completely vegetative due to a major illness in 1942. He lived until 1976 and died in Bangladesh, where he was made the National Poet in 1972. The Government of Bangladesh revived the songs through the establishment of ‘Nazrul Institute’ which has documented his complete works.