Artiste Bari Siddiqui’s Dream Baulbari

Hiren Pandit: Due to fakes, hybrids and geniuses are disappearing from our society, from our country. It is art, literature, politics, and social policy in almost all fields. If respectable people are not valued, society will fall behind if merit is not valued. However, the government deserves praise for thinking that a prominent Baul poet and singer, Jalal Uddin Khan (1894-1972), remembered him for 52 years. He was posthumously awarded the Ekushey Padak in 2024 by the Government of Bangladesh for his outstanding contribution to the arts (music). After 52 years of his death, Netrakona’s Baul Mystic Jalal Uddin Khan received Ekushey Padak. It has been five years since Bari Siddiqui left the world; we don’t know how many years he will need to get his proper assessment. Wait and see!: We met Bari Siddiqui, Bari Bhai, in his room on the ground floor of Surjasen Hall in 1986. Went to his room with our senior brother, Sharif Uddin Ahmed of Netrakona. We went to the room and saw him playing the flute in his mind. It should be mentioned here that after going from Netrakona and taking the Admission Test to Dhaka University and getting the opportunity to study at Dhaka University, I stayed with my elder brothers in the Surjasen Hall area for a few days and then moved to my hall, Jagannath Hall. By that time, Bari Bhai had also passed and left the hall. After leaving the university, he went to Pune, India, to pursue higher studies in music and flute.
After completing his studies at Dhaka University, Bari Siddiqui, a renowned flute player and musician of the subcontinent, took training in folk songs and classical songs in India. Returning, he collected the Ukil Munsi and Jalaluddin Khan songs and started singing. Apart from this, the respected lyricist Shahidullah Faraji’s compositions and songs became popular by composing and singing them. He is considered one of the most famous artists in the Asian continent. Bari Siddiqui was born on 15 November 1954 in a musical family in Netrakona. Fachika village of Mougati union of Netrakona Sadar upazila is the birthplace of Bari Siddiqui—Father, late Muharram Ali, and mother, late Zahoor-un-Nisa. Bari Siddiqui was the youngest among three brothers and one sister. Bari Siddiqui’s full name is Abdul Bari Siddiqui.
As a child, he learned music from his family. His formal training began at the tender age of 12 under Netrakona artist Ustad Gopal Dutta. He directly contacted many talented artists, including Ustad Aminur Rahman, Dabir Khan, and Pannalal Ghosh. Ustad Aminur Rahman saw Bari Siddiqui while singing at an event and offered him further training. After that, he trained under Ustad Aminur Rahman for six years. Bari joined the District Arts Academy in the seventies. After that, Bari Siddiqui started studying classical music under the advice of Ustad Gopal Dutta. Later, he became more interested in the flute, so he trained on the flute. In the 1990s, he went to Pune, India, to study under Pandit VG Karnad. After returning home, he started singing folk songs and classical music.
His father-in-law is in Karli village of Rouha Union of Sadar Upazila of Netrakona. Based on that, he built this Baulbari next to his father-in-law Nurul Huda’s house in Karli village. However, the construction of other structures related to that house remained unfinished. Famous Bengali folk singer Bari Siddiqui dreamed of Bauls to come, stay, and practice music in his Baulbari. Even if he could not finish this work himself, cultural activists, politicians, and local public representatives said he should take it forward. He started this work after purchasing 120 decimal lands in Karli village of Rouha Union of Netrakona Sadar Upazila. There were plans to build a house on the pond, a mosque, a house for the Bauls, and a boundary wall of the house, but he could not finish it. I was last seen with folk artist Kiran Chandra Roy before Dhaka University TSC. After that, I did not see him for a long time. Suddenly, we heard that he was admitted to Square Hospital, and his condition was not good. Bari Siddiqui died on November 24, 2017, while undergoing treatment at Dhaka’s Square Hospital due to a heart attack. Bari Siddiqui was buried in the courtyard of Baulbari according to his last wish. Bari Siddiqui lived in this Baul house when he came to Netrakona from Dhaka, even though he had a residence in the Chankhan Circle area of Netrakona. Bari Siddiqui last visited Baulbari four months before his death. Bari Siddiqui dreamed that Mystic Bauls would come, stay, and practice music in this house. He wanted to build a house on the pond, a mosque, houses for the Bauls, and a boundary wall for the house. But he couldn’t do it.
Bari Siddiqui is the wealth of the country. We must keep alive his life-long pursuit of music, the trend he made in mixing folk music with classical music. The responsibility of completing the remaining work of the Baulbari of his dream is now the responsibility of culture workers and artists. Everyone should come forward in this regard. A few years before his death, Bari Siddiqui held a meeting with the Bauls in this house—Jalsa song. At least 100 people joined the bowl. He could not finish Baulbari’s work. Everyone should cooperate to advance the remaining work of building his dream house. Awami League culture affairs secretary Ashim Kumar Ukil was at Baulbari when Bari Siddiqui was buried. He called on everyone to come forward and realize the dream that Bari Siddiqui used to see with the Bauls.
On winter days, there is a slightly sad tone in Karli village in Netrakona. Lovely flute playing no longer plays there. But Bari Siddiqui, who had spent a long time in this village, wanted to excite his audience by playing the flute like Hamelin’s flute player. But in the infallible rules of nature, he has also become a star falling from the sky. He was a student of Anjuman Ideal Government School in Netrakona. Bari Siddiqui was always good as a student. In 1979, he took the SSC examination. Then, he got a letter mark of 80 out of 100 in English. Then, the Dhaka board authorities suspended his result. At that time, receiving letters was a different matter.
It was complicated. Later, the board authorities conducted his interview. He got First Division in Humanities. He also worked to realize Bangabandhu’s dream through his musical pursuits. On his birthday every year on November 15, the Baulgan festival is held in Baulbari. People from different places, including the district town, attended that event. Listen to music and pay tribute to the memory of Bari Siddiqui. He is best known for popular songs. Bari Siddiqui is Bangladesh’s famous musician, lyricist, and flute player. He has spoken about his frustration in songs. Millions of viewers have been mesmerized by the dreamy melody for years.
He died on November 24, 2017, while undergoing treatment at Square Hospital in Dhaka. Even though Bari Siddiqui is not physically present, he is immortalized in the audience with the songs he left behind—Bari Siddiqui’s acquaintance with fiction writer and filmmaker Humayun Ahmed in the nineties. Bari Siddiqui’s name recognition spread even more after singing in Humayun Ahmed’s drama movies. He made a permanent seat in the hearts of everyday people. In 1995, Bari Siddiqui performed music for the first time in a magazine program called ‘Ronger Barai’ by Humayun Ahmed.
Then, in 1999, he sang seven songs in the film ‘Shraban Megher Din’ written and directed by Humayun Ahmed. In this, his recognition and popularity spread for the song ‘Shua Chan Pakhi’. After that, there was no looking back. He participated as the only representative from the Indian subcontinent in the World Flute Conference held in Geneva in 1999. Bari Siddiqui attended the conference as the only representative from the Indian subcontinent. There, they play the flute at the opening ceremony.
That took 45 minutes continuously. He impressed the world audience with that extraordinary performance. After that, this artist has touched hearts with the tune of the flute at many events in the country and abroad. He received the Expatriate Generation Japan Award (2014) and CityCell-Channel i Music Award. Bari Siddiqui started playing flute professionally in 1980. In 1986, played the flute in the first Srijan program on BTV. Bari Siddiqui also acted in a film called Matir Pinjira. Later, he also worked in the play ‘Pagla Ghora’ directed by Ferrari Amit.
However, he worked only on request and as a hobby. But an artist like Bari Siddiqui deserved much more from the state. This great musician dedicated himself to the pursuit of music throughout his life. Bari Siddiqui dreamed that his tomb would be on the north side of his self-built residence. On its western side will be a mosque with tall minarets. The park with the Baul Institute and the arena for the incoming Baul Mystics and artists will be on the east side. But after his death, all his dreams seem to have died. Many have promised various types of public-private cooperation initiatives. But none of it saw the light of day. Demand to the relevant departments of the government that the state should come forward to fulfill the artist’s dream.
Hiren Pandit is an essayist, columnist and researcher.

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