In a glorious musical career spanning 40 years, Kumar Biswajit has won over music lovers of all ages. Starting his musical career in Radio Bangladesh (now Bangladesh Betar) back in the late '70s and creating a firm niche in Bangladesh Television in the early '80s, Biswajit has sung nearly 400 songs in his 36 studio albums and 500 movies that fetched him three National Awards - twice in Best Playback Singer category and once as the Best Music Composer. His love for experimentation has resulted in a diverse range of music all the way from folk to blues. The Daily Star talked to Bishwajit to know more.
How have you been doing lately?
Kumar Biswajit: I am fine, but in a state of shock as fellow artistes like Ali Akbar Rupu and Sabah Tani passed away recently. These days I tend to recall them. My regret is that, we do not show enough respect for deserving artistes while they are around, which is a frustrating for musicians. We need to do far more than bestow formal honours on them after their death.
Have you been happy with the way your career has unfolded over the years?
Kumar Biswajit: I am immersed in music. However, I might go into retirement from music and announce this at any stage because I believe artistes should perform with dignity and quit with dignity. I wish to retire while I am still loved by music lovers. I have always denied time to my family members because I have been so busy with music and now it is time to make them my priority.
What have been the perils of fame for you?
Kumar Biswajit: You have to manage it, which is not always easy. Sometimes you might need to allow your fans to take selfies with you on a ferry when your father has just died and you are transporting the body, or you might need to perform on stage abroad despite hearing news about the fatal accident of your baby who is in ICU back in Dhaka. Also thousands of your fans might surprise you by an on-stage birthday celebration of your son, which is beyond expectation. I mean to say, you have to tread carefully with the realities of being an artiste and be caring of your fans' emotions, be it negative or positive.
What changes do you observe in the music scenario then and now?
Kumar Biswajit: I began singing in the late '70s and started playback in the early '80s. That time, doing music was teamwork and fun. Producers, directors, music directors -- all used to be in the studio in a picnic mood at recordings. Even heroes who were to lip-sync the songs used to be present overnight in the recording studios to observe singers' expressions that might help them act well in front of cameras. Today, we are attacked by individualism, which is reflected in our music too. There is no such team approach nowadays and the music industry is suffering because of this.
Tell us something that would surprise your fans.
Kumar Biswajit: At the beginning of my career I used to talk to the landlord from my room in a woman's voice to dodge him when he used to come to collect rent because I did not have enough money to pay. I feel ashamed of some substandard songs I sang for movies at the request of some seniors which I did not want to. These are sides of me that I have not yet revealed.
How have you managed to stay on top for such a long time while many others have quit?
Kumar Biswajit: I am not sure how popular I am, but I am grateful to my fans for their love. I believe in quality. I kept in mind the taste of my audience while doing music and always tried to update and improve myself.
Do you have a message for those who follow you?
Kumar Biswajit: I would tell young musicians not to be restless. They should concentrate on quality and stardom will follow naturally. They should not compare themselves with others because comparisons might lead to frustration. They should not compromise with quality simply because of monetary necessity as, I believe, hardship eases with the passage of time.