Ara Begum was the lady with a golden voice. She rose to popularity
around the 1960s. Whether it was radio, television or gramophone
records being played in wayside restaurants, her fresh, melodious
voice was audible far and wide.
was the daughter of Dr Kasiruddin Talukder and Begum Ziaunnahar
Talukder of Bogra. Her father's dispensary at Thana Road
was well known to the public. But tragedy struck the family
when her father was arrested and killed by the Pakistan
Army during the Liberation War in 1971. The ostensible reason
for this drastic end was his role in providing medical aid
and giving shelter to freedom fighters.
Ara was born in a cultured family where almost all her family
members were highly educated. She completed BA (Hons), MA
from the Department of Sociology, Dhaka University while
continuing her career as a professional singer. She was
the youngest among her two brothers and five sisters.
eldest sister Begum Zabunnesa Jamal was a popular lyricist
and educationist. Elder sister Mahbub Ara was also a singer
of radio and television. Her niece, Zeenat Rahana, is a
well-known vocal artiste and the famous Runa Laila is her
Ara made her presence felt for the first time through radio
in 1958 and instantly became everyone's favourite. There
was a unique quality to her voice and listeners were captivated
by the feeling that she put into singing.
the early 1960s when there was no television and radio was
the only medium to reach the masses, Anjuman Ara occupied
the pride of place with three contracts every month. During
each programme she was required to attend at least three
sittings in the morning, evening and night during peak hours.
Her fans seldom missed her programmes because she had a
variety of items to offer like light modern, Nazrul song,
folk song, semi-classical, patriotic, ghazal and geet.
was soon chosen for playback in feature films. Her song
in a dream sequence of Shutorang, Tumi ashbay boley kachhey
dakbey boley was an instant hit. This was followed by
Chandni bheegi bheegi haawa a song of Urdu film Chanda
became a hot favourite. Thereafter came other film hits
like Akasher hathay aachhey ek rash neel, Kay Shoronero
prantoray chupi chupi chhoyan rekhay jaye, Sathti ronger
majhey aami mil khunje na pai, Khokon shona boli shono,
Maachhranga pakhita aye and many others.
Ara's husband Masud Alam Siddiqui was a tremendous support
all along. It was obvious that without his encouragement,
she could not have made it as a singer. Masud retired as
Secretary, Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation.
Her son Tariq Masrur is a Sub-Editor (News Section) of The
Daily Star and daughter Umana Anjalin is a Lecturer, Department
of Business Administration at the University of Asia Pacific.
Ara received many awards for her rich contribution to music.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy gave her the 'Gunijan' award
in the year 2000. In recognition of her contribution as
an artiste, she received the National Award, Ekushey Padak
performing the Hajj she became very pious and gradually
declined offers to sing although she held a respectable
position as a senior vocalist.
she had been ailing. Her illness took a swift turn to acute
pneumonia and she breathed her last in the morning of May
29, 2004. The news of her sudden death reached quickly and
soon relatives, friends, well-wishers, artistes, fans and
admirers gathered at her residence at Dhanmondi to pay their
last respects to her.
Ara was a very soft-spoken lady and always had a smile on
her face. Personally she was very amiable and kind hearted.
As an artiste she was always devoted to her profession.
Ara is no more with us. However, she lives on in the memories
of her numerous fans.
author is a former Director, Department of Dance and Music,
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy