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Did you know poet Nazrul Islam’s music was rejected by Viswabharati?

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This story dates back to the time when our very own bidrohi kobi, Nazrul Islam had taken up the responsibility of composing music for Bengali films. His first work started with 'Dhruba'. The proprietor of Madan Company, Grami Sahib signed a contract with him for a monthly remuneration of 500 rupees. Poet Nazrul also came across an unusual request to act in the role of ‘Narod’. The poet did keep the request. The audience had a whole new experience of witnessing a young Narod. The songs of 'Dhruba' gained huge popularity. But, Nazrul felt a little deceived financially and decided not to work with this company any longer. 

Then, he laid his hands on 'Patalpuri’ by Shailajananda. Films like Mukti, Sapure and Vidyapati got released. Nazrul did not have the full responsibility of music direction in 'Mukti'. This was the first movie apart from a tale of Tagore where Rabindrasangeet was used. Pankaj Kumar Mallik and Kanan Devi lent their voices to the songs of Tagore in this film. 

Next Debdutta Films took up the task of making the film ‘Gora’. Nazrul Islam was supposed to be the music director of this film too. It was almost an iconic moment in the history of Bengali movies as Nazrul Islam was setting to tunes songs of another great poet, Rabindranath Tagore for the film. 

In those days, it was mandatory to take permission of  Visvabharati if any of Tagore’s songs was recorded. But while recording songs for Gora, Nazrul did not take any permission from the university because he had a firm belief that the University would not object to it as he was the music director. 

But everything was not as smooth sailing as he had expected. The real problem cropped up just two days before the release date of Gora. An observer from Visva-Bharati had come to attend the trade show of the film. He found out flaws in the songs of Tagore under the direction of Nazrul. The university did not give the permission to use these songs. The release of the movie came to a standstill. The producer was in a disastrous state as he had invested a lot in this film.

This came as a huge blow for Nazrul as well. The possibility of Visvabharati rejecting his songs was beyond his imagination. But Nazrul refused to give up. He rushed to Santiniketan with a copy of 'Gora' in a small projection machine to get permission from Tagore himself. 

The sudden arrival of Nazrul surprised as well as delighted Tagore. He requested Nazrul to stay with him. The offer seemed lucrative but Nazrul had to return to Kolkata, otherwise the release of the film would again receive a further blow. Therefore, Nazrul narrated the entire incident to Tagore and requested him to save the film from the hands of this unforeseen danger.

Tagore was very disturbed after hearing the entire incident. He said, “I have no words. How could they afford to find flaws in the songs that were taught by you? Do they have the ability to value my songs more than you?” Nazrul told him that the film will not be allowed to release on the declared date unless a written permission is granted. Therefore, he urged Tagore to watch the film in the projector brought by him once before signing the written permission.  

Tagore said, “If you want to show the film, show it to everyone.” Tagore signed the written permission immediately without verifying how much Nazrul had deviated from the original style of Tagore. This expressed the kind of confidence and faith he had in Nazrul.