Cultural arena mourns Syed Haq’s death

Cultural Correspondent
Syed Shamsul Haq

Syed Shamsul Haq

The country’s literary and cultural circles mourned the death of poet-playwright Syed Shamsul Haq, who died aged 80 at a hospital in Dhaka on Tuesday.
They expressed shock at his passing and showered him with epithets such as ‘the giant of Bangla literature,’ and ‘the unannounced poet laureate’ of the country.
Among them were writers, poets, educationists and cultural activists who recalled the long, productive life of a man who had contributed to almost all genres of literature, earning the title Sabyasachi – meaning a man who treads diverse paths.
‘Syed Shamsul Haq was astoundingly prolific. He wrote profusely, contributing to almost all genres of our literature, but he never compromised with the quality of his work,’ said professor emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury.
Haq, born in 1935, started writing in his early years. In a career spanning over 60 years, he published around 200 books, his corpus including poetry, play, novel, short shorty, lyrics, screenplay, translation and other forms of literature.
He won the Bangla Academy Award in 1966, Ekushey Padak in 1984 and Independence Day Award – Bangladesh’s highest civilian honour – in 2000, for his contributions to Bangla literature.
‘Above all, Syed Shamsul Haq was a poet and his experiments with Bangla poetry enriched the genre and inspired his fellow poets to do the same,’ said Bangladesh Kabita Parishad president Muhammad Samad.
‘I remember when many of our urban poets could not think of writing poems in local dialects, Syed Haq stood apart and produced an amazing collection of sonnets titled Poraner Gahin Bhitar in his local dialects,’ said poet Muhammad Nurul Huda.
Haq’s poetry is also characterised by his political and social consciousness. Among his notable poetry collections are Ekoda Ek Rajje, Baishakhe Rachita Panktimala, Biratihin Utsob, Protidhonigon, Apar Purush, and Ek Ashcharja Sangamer Smriti.
He showed his brilliance as a playwright also, enriching local theatre with a number of verse plays and several translated ones.
‘Syed Shamsul Haq is one of the brightest playwrights in the post-Tagore era. We got a number of theatre classics from him,’ said thespian Aly Zaker, who acted in Haq’s famous play Nuroldiner Sarajiban.
Besides Nuroldiner Sarajiban, Haq wrote several noteworthy plays such as Payer Awaz Pawa Jay, Irsha, Narigon, Ekhane Ekhon, Banglar Mati Banglar Jol, and Khatta Tamasha.
In prose, he also excelled with around 50 novels and short story collections to his credit. His novels Kelaram Khele Ja, Nishiddha Loban, Tumi Sei Tarobari, Simana Chhariye, Neel Dangshan and others established his authority in the realm of novel-writing.
His translations of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, The Tempest, and Troilus and Cresida, and Henrik Ibsen’s Pyr Gynt were also successful on stage.
Quite strangely, however, Syed Shamsul Haq wanted to be a filmmaker in his early years. He even went to Bombay to work as an assistant to a director. On returning home, he began working as a screenplay writer and also penned many playbacks.
His screenplays for films like Sutarang, Abujh Mon and Boro Bhalo Lok Chhilo and playbacks like Hayre Manush Rangin Phanush, Tumi Ashbe Boley Kachhe Dakbe Boley, and Chander Shathey Ami Dibona Tomar Tulana were critically acclaimed.
‘Syed Shamsul Haq is one of the talented few that worked in the initial stage of our film industry. His contribution to the industry will always be remembered,’ said filmmaker Morshedul Islam.
‘A man of versatility, Syed Shamsul Haq enriched our culture and literature. After his death, I lost a friend and a mentor; theatre has also lost a powerful playwright while our literature lost a towering figure,’ said the cultural affairs minister Asaduzzaman Noor.

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