Oojaan: the band from Sylhet

Oojaan: the band from Sylhet

The band Oojaan started its journey in 1990 from Sylhet. The band was formed by vocalist Himangshu Biswas and guitarist Harold Rasheed.

Every Thursday night they practiced in the music room of  Harold Rasheed’s house, Jyoti Manzil, Amberkhana. Initially on percussion there was Amirul Islam Babu, Nilanjan Das Tuku and Mrytunjoy Hrishi on tabla. Later on, Faizan Rashid Ahmad (Buno) joined on bass guitar. Sometimes Harold’s son Resalat (Dhruva) took over bass duties and Buno played rhythm guitar. Soon afterwards Shahabuddin Ahmed joined on dotara.

Oojaan mainly covered folk songs from Sylhet by Hasan Raja, Arkum Shah, Ondho Gopal, Radha Raman, Shitalong Shah, Durbin Shah, Sheikh Banu, Baul Abdul Karim, and Giasuddin Ahmed to name a few.

The vocalists varied depending on the performance. Thus, Santanu Sen Tappu would start a performance followed by Sujit Syam John followed by Himangshu Biswas and then Subir Nandi or Bidit Lal Das if they were around.

When performing in Dhaka Jalal would join them on flute and Baul Arif would replace Shahabuddin on dotara with Nazrul Islam on lathi dhol.

At other times, Baul Arif would start the show on vocals followed by Hemadri Biswas. In these cases, Oojaan’s repertoire included Lalongeeti and classical vocals.

Over the years they have crisscrossed Sylhet in search of new songs. They have performed in the UK, India and all over Bangladesh. They always selected songs that were off the beaten track.

Their music is different for many reasons. Firstly, they made fusion folk popular long before it became fashionable. Secondly, the variety of different vocalists has widened and enriched the scope of the songs they perform. Given their collective experiences and influences their music is very eclectic, drawing from diverse sources. Thirdly, Ooojan is comfortable with any genre whether it is Lalongeeti, Sylhetie folk, thumrie, ghazal, bhajan or classical music.

At present Oojaan consists of Himangshu Biswas, Harold Rasheed, Mrytunjoy Hrishi, Buno and John. They have just celebrated their 30th anniversary.

  • gaanpaar  desk feature, January 2020

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