Mohammed Rabiul Islam

Mohammed Rabiul Islam

interviewed at Jilangi Murshidabad


- What is your name?
- My name is Mohammad Rabiul Islam.
- What is the name of your village?
- The name of my village is Supurigularhaat (‘market of betel nuts’).
- How would you identify yourself— as a Baul, Sufi or Fakir?
- I would identify myself as a fakir.
- At what age did you embark upon this path?
- I embarked upon this way of life at the age of twelve.
- What is the name of the guru who initiated you?
- The name of my guru is Kayem Baghdadi Saheb.
- Do you have another guru who taught you?
- Yes, and his name is Mohammad Anarul Saheb.
- Is this the same guru from whom you learnt music?
- Yes!
- What is it that drew you to this path?
- You mean to ask me what I love about this Fakir way of life?
- Yes!
- Once, a great Fakir visited our village. I looked after him and took care of his needs. He initiated a few of us before leaving our village. That is how I first embarked upon this path. About twenty-two/ twenty-three years have gone by since then!
- Hmmm. Ok.
- I have also travelled to various countries.
- Which countries have you travelled to?
- We walked all the way from Delhi to Ajmer Sharif. We have walked till Kafila bearing a flag.
- Is there any difference between Baul and Fakir ways of life or are these the same?
- They are the same!
- Do you think the Bauls and Fakirs have different ways of performing? Are the melodies similar?
- The two have different ways of performing. The Baul style (of performance) varies slightly from that of the Fakirs.
- Are you a practicing Fakir?
- No! I love listening to Baul songs. And I play an instrument.
- Oh, so you do not sing, but play an instrument!
- Yes!
- Do you have any children?
- I have only one daughter!
- Ok! And do you think she too will embark upon this path?
- Yes, definitely! She is already a performer.
- Oh, she performs?
- Yes, she sings! And I follow the path of a sadhu (practitioner).
- All right!
- There is a Baul mela/ congregation at our place from the twenty-third to the twenty-fifth of the upcoming Bengali month.
- At your village?
- Yes! Almost three to five thousand people assemble there and are given food. The musical performances continue incessantly for two or three days. The place is at Raninagar Thana.
- Do musical performances happen regularly at your village? During the evenings?
- Yes, they do!
- Thank You! Joy Guru!
- Joy Guru!

Recorded April 1, 2013 at Jilangi, Murshidabad near the Bangladesh border

Translated by Parjanya Sen

Interview by Ben Krakauer
Producer/Director: Shubra Dutta
Main Camera: Shubra Dutta
2nd Unit Camera: Suman Biswas
Camera Assistants: Asim and Amit
Sound Engineer: Partho Pratim Barman
Sound Assistant: Tarun Mukherjee