Runa Laila | Guddu Film Archive
Runa Laila | Guddu Film Archive

Runa Laila, the melody queen of Bangladesh, has garnished her musical career with numerous hits and enthralled audiences for decades through her mesmerising vocals. The songbird now extends her musical prowess to composing musical scores. In an exclusive interview, Runa Laila opens up about her new project.

Q. With the new musical project, the audience will see a new facet of your musical abilities. What can you tell us about it?

Runa Laila: I never really planned this. It happened on the spur of the moment. Akhi Alamgir, a Bangladeshi singer and actor, talked me into it. She said, ‘In your musical career, you sang different songs. How about composing a song for me’? I replied, ‘It is not easy to give a tune to a song. Just because I can sing, doesn’t mean I can compose’. One day, a melody came to my mind and I recorded the prelude on my mobile phone. When my husband Alamgir sahib returned home in the evening, I asked him to listen to my composed piece. I was hoping for a remark, or at least a rating — good or bad — but he said nothing. I was disappointed, and I thought maybe he did not like it because if it were any good, he would have said something.

At that time, a movie Ekti Cinemar Golpo was being produced by Alamgir sahib. After two or three days, he asked me if I had composed the interlude of the song. I replied that I had decided not to work on it further since he did not comment on it. He then told me to complete the interlude and, later, when it was done, he listened to it. This time he said, “I have a sequence in my movie where I would like to incorporate your composition. My composition was sung by Akhi Alamgir, and the song had a wistful tone to it, since it was melancholic in nature. After that, whenever I conceived a tune or melody, I always recorded it.

Celebrated singer Runa Laila showcases a new facet of her talent as she turns composer

Q. Did you do anything like this previously?

RL: No, I did not. I recorded five songs and I believe that if I’m able to offer my composed tunes to upcoming singers, it will prove to be very beneficial for them. I want do this for them so that they can get better opportunities, and also help them gain more exposure. I have always tried to do as much as I can for the new generation of artists. I want my songs to be made properly, and released under a good audio company. So I asked a journalist friend about it, and I was informed about Dhruba Music Station. Later, I contacted them. The company’s owner, Dhruba, himself is a singer, and he was able to understand and present the songs in a professional manner. They gave me the space I needed to execute my creative freedom. I want everything to be done perfectly, and I really like their style of work and their approach.

Q: How many songs have you composed?

RL: I’ve composed five songs for this project. The lyrics of two of the songs were written by Gazi Mazharul Anwar and the other three were written by Kabir Bakul. Three of the songs were sung by upcoming young singers Luipa, Haimanti Rakhshit Das and Akhi Alamgir. Even my daughter, Tani, will sing one of the songs. I, myself, will render my voice for one of the songs, based on the producer’s request. The voice recording was done in Dhaka at the studio owned by the band, Chirkut. The five tracks were recorded in London, and done by Raja Kaasheff, with international musicians. Under Raja Kaasheff’s supervision, sound engineers Emon and Anik have done a superb work. Raja has undoubtedly done a fantastic job with all the tracks. All these songs have been recorded for Dhruba Music Station.

Q: When do you plan to release these songs?

RL: My song will be released first, but I cannot say when. I just recorded the song and we are yet to shoot the music video and complete other post-production tasks. Dhruba wants to execute the project perfectly, and I believe he will do an amazing job. The songs are semi-classical and I want these songs to influence the musical taste of the listeners. I have composed each song with this thought in my mind.

If I’m able to offer my composed tunes to upcoming singers, it will prove to be very beneficial for them. I want do this for them so that they can get better opportunities, and also help them gain more exposure. I have always tried to do as much as I can for the new generation of artists.”

Q: Do you plan to compose frequently?

RL: I’m not entirely sure about it, but let’s see what’s down the road. If I’m given creative liberty, just like Dhruba did, then I might consider and think about it. I really enjoyed working with him and he gave me full creative freedom. However, I do have a few plans, so I will take my time.

Q. You have a very good relationship with artists round the globe. They respect you and your work. They see you as the representative of Bangladesh. Any plans on collaborating with foreign artists?

RL: Yes, I have thought of working with international artists, and look forward to executing a plan in the near future. I also plan to work with the male singers of this generation, as I’m working with only female singers on this project, I would like to work with male singers for my new ventures. I have not narrowed down my choices yet, but I’m on it.

Q. Do you prefer composing music based on the lyrics of a song, or lyrics based on the composition?

RL: I think, creating composition based on lyrics is difficult, and I’m more comfortable with making a composition first, to be followed by the lyrics.

— By arrangement with Asian News Network/Daily Star

Transcribed by Joana Nomrata Mazumder

Published in Dawn, ICON, June 2nd, 2019