Samar Das – An Influential Musician

There are many music artists who find fame outside of their country of birth, but there are few who have left an indelible mark locally and internationally. Samar Das was one such a musician, who became a legend in the music industry in Bangladesh, as well as an iconic music director in Pakistan. He composed more than two thousand songs during his lifetime, and is remembered as a musician and member of the music industry who made a major impact and will always be held in high esteem for his contributions.

Born in Dhaka on 10 December 1929, Samar Das was born into a Christian family that was musical. He therefore developed a passion for music at an early age, beginning lessons when he was still young. He later continued his training at the All India Radio centre in Dhaka, studying the Indian Flute, known as a bansi, as well as piano and guitar, at the tender age of sixteen in 1945. He used his skills as a pianist when he became part of the HMV Gramophone Company and in 1966 the position of Cultural Academy chief music director in Pakistan was offered to him. He was also present at the Commonwealth Music festival in the same year, which was hosted in London, as part of the Pakistan Delegation. The following year he became the Dhaka Radio music director. Samar Das is known for ensuring that more than fifty films in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India had perfect music scores, and his work for a film named Lottery won him great acclaim. Other films that he was connected with included Mukh O Mukhosh and Dhirey Bahey Meghna.

In 1985 and in 1995 he was asked by the South Asian Federation Games to be Music Director, with an estimated audience of more than five hundred million people watching the ceremonies from various countries. He was also the president and founder of Bangladesh Sageet Parishad. During the 1971 Bangladesh War of Liberation, Samar Das was instrumental as a freedom fighter, operating the clandestine radio station that broadcasted vital information to the people. He also composed a number of patriotic songs and transcribed the national anthem written by Rabindranath Tagore and his rendering is still played in Bangladesh today. He remained active in cultural events until he suffered a major stroke that rendered him paralyzed, and passed away a year later in September 2001. His role in the music industry and as freedom fighter will never be forgotten.