Maswood Alam Khan
After drenching millions of her fans for more than six decades with Tagore melodies in her ever so sweet voice—a soft, deep, calm and quiet tenor and at times mixed with a tinge of profound sadness and other times soaked in the nectar of romance and mostly intoned in her typical husky whispers—Suchitra Mitra, verily an epitome of Rabindranath Tagore’s soul, songs, ideas and thoughts, has left her temporal abode in this world for her resting for good in the heaven high above beyond the sky, leaving us feeling void, empty, alone and utterly bereft.
The passing away of Suchitra Mitra in the 150th birth anniversary year of Rabindranath Tagore marks the end of an era in Rabindra Sangeet. With her demise a dazzling pearl is plucked off from the canvas wherein Tagore songs are woven. A very bonding part has come unglued from the world of Rabindra Sangeet. A fissure thus created in the world of music with the departure of the legendary singer would be very difficult to be redeemed.
Born in 1924 in a moving train at Gujhandi, India, Suchitra Mitra often joked that she was born to travel relentlessly. Mitra visited several countries to participate in numerous festivals on Rabindra Sangeet. Suchitra Mitra was awarded the Padmashree in 1974, besides ‘Desikottama’ from her alma mater Visva Bharati, the HMV Golden Disc Award and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986.
I am basically a Tagore Songs man. I am also a Suchitra Mitra man. I go mad with ecstasy when a Tagore song touches the sensitive chord tied to my restive soul. I feel my pains soothed away when I hear Tagore songs sung by singers like Sagar Sen, Debabrata Biswas, Ashok Taru Bandapadhaya, Suchitra Mitra, Hemanta Mukhopadhayay, Kanika Bandopadhyay and of late Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya singing Tagore songs in their styles.
I can’t count how many zillion times I heard Suchitra Mitra sing “Hridayer Ekul Okul Dukul Bheshey Jaay, Oo Sajani” (Both resorts of my heart are getting flooded out, Oh my kindred!) she sang in 1945 and “Jodi Tor Dak Sune Keu Na Ashe Tobe Ekla Chalo Re” (Go alone on your own, if nobody does respond to your call to accompany you). Suchitra Mitra’s rendition of Tagore’s ‘Amar Sonar Bangla Ami Tomai Bhalobasi’ (I love you, my Bangla, a country made of solid gold) during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 won hearts of millions of our people who drew inspiration from the song sung by her at those moments of huge pains when we used to cry out for freedom from oppressions.
Suchitra Mitra is not mere a name; it is a magic phrase that will continue evoking memories of our moments we lived by the side of her voice. Her recorded songs will remain live for eons to come as long as people on this planet will not forget the language Bangla and as long as humans would not close their ears to music that has been so enriched by Tagore songs and so adorned by Suchitra Mitra’s heavenly voice.
No Bangladeshi Tagore fan can be found today who will not shed tears at the death of Suchitra Mitra. The stoniest heart of any Bangla-speaking person will be melted if today he or she listens to Suchitra Mitra singing: “Tobu Mone Rekho, Tobu Mone Rekho, Jodi Doorey Jai Choley, Tobu Mone Rekho, Jodi Poratana Prem Dhaka Porey Jai Nobo Premo Jaley, Jodi Thaki Kasakasi Dekhitey Naa Pao Chayaar Moton Asi Naa Asi, Tobu Mone Rekho, Tobu Mone Rekho.” [Remember me, if you can. In case I leave far away from you, still remember me. When the old flame of your love would be snuffed out by a newer adoration, still remember me. In case I am in the vicinity but not quite visible to you, in case you don’t recognize the elusive shades of my ephemeral presence, remember me, if you can. Remember me, please].
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