Since the morning, Dhrubo has had an episode of events beyond his favour – he’s having a bad day – he doesn’t feel like talking to or seeing anyone. He just has a feeling that he wants to sit in front of the sea and stare at its vastness for hours, leaving all the city-life-chaos behind. This might sound like an insane idea to the capital dwellers but not to the varsity goer, Dhrubo, who knows the magic trick of travelling to the seashore in the blink of an eye. “There is no magic spell; actually it’s a song called Obak Bhalobasha”, said Dhrubo. He explained how this almost three-decade-old melodious piece drags his mind to the seashore and giving him an atmosphere of pure comfort and relaxation amidst all the discomfort and uncertainty.

The title track of Warfaze’s second album, “Obak Bhalobasha” (1994), is still in the playlist of many youths like Dhrubo. “Obak Bhalobasha” is written and composed by the then Warfaze bassist Mehmud Zaglul Karim, popularly known as Babna Karim. In this article, let’s explore the story behind “Obak Bhalobasha” by Warfaze.

warfaze band first concert
The debut of Warfaze on 9 February 1988 at Hotel Sonargaon. From the left Nomu, Babna, Reshad, Kamal and Tipu at the back, on drums. Courtesy: Ibrahim Ahmed Kamal

Coming up with the tune of ‘Obak Bhalobasha’

The captivating tune of “Obak Bhalobasha” and its mystical lyrics enchant listeners even today. Babna usually composes the tune first and then writes the lyrics. The wording is done in line with the mood, vibe and emotional demands of the tune. In the case of composing “Obak Bhalobasha”, the process was the same.

Around 1990–91, when “Obak Bhalobasha” was composed, Babna was a student at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). He was quite busy with his studies and working hard to do better. He never had much time for music but he managed to play the guitar and develop his compositions during his study breaks. Even the guitar he played belonged to his friend, Hassib Hussein. The chords and tune of “Obak Bhalobasha” came up while experimenting with some chords. The tune was made in a very short time.
After making the initial tune of the song, he played it to his friend Shabbir Ahmed Shubho (later became a professor at Georgia Tech) and his brother Saeed Ahmed Shujon (later worked for CNN and AP). Back then, it was just a tune and some ideas for possible lyrics. They liked the tune and Babna was excited about the way it was developing.

Lyrics of ‘Obak Bhalobasha’ and the Cox’s Bazar trip

A group of 17 BUET classmates planned a memorable trip to Cox’s Bazar. Initially unsure about joining the excursion, Babna was convinced by Shubho to seize the opportunity. Shubho even took an acoustic guitar for Babna, who was shy and didn’t want to take a guitar as it might be perceived as ‘showing off’.

As they arrived at Cox’s Bazar, Babna found himself captivated by the stunning scenery—the vibrant red hues reflected on the waves and the pristine white sands. Babna and his friends were staying at the T&T rest house on top of a hill right in front of the sea.
In the late afternoon, all his friends went out to the beach to play cricket. Babna didn’t go, even though he wanted to. He felt a spiritual urge to work on the incomplete “Obak Bhalobasha”. In an interview with Sonic, he said, “I felt something about the timing as the sun was setting in the sea, that if I did not write the lyrics now, it would be a mistake.” So he sat down at the verandah with Shubho’s guitar. Embracing the overwhelming emotions that swept over him, he began strumming his guitar and singing the lyrics that came to him effortlessly. By the time the sun had set, Babna had completed the composition, encapsulating the essence of that enchanting evening.

Bamba Karim of Warfaze
Mehmud Zaglul Karim, the former bassist of Warfaze, is popularly known as Babna Karim. Photo: Collected

He said, “It is the same feeling people feel when they are in front of something huge. It seems to just open up the artistic faculties. I started to strum and hum words as they came to me. I was done writing by the time the sun set and it was getting dark in the verandah. I can still go back to that time; I can still hear the roar of the sea and the stillness of the time.”

Also Read: An ode to a band: Feelings

Following the sunset, Babna and Shubho, along with their other classmates, went to the rooftop, where they found themselves immersed in the beauty of the night. His classmates were the first to listen to “Obak Bhalobasha” fresh from the oven, that evening on the rooftop of that guest house.

Obak Bhalobasha lyrics by Warfaze
Lyrics of Obak Bhalobasha by Warfaze. Illustration: Tanvir Ahmed Abir/MuSophia

Incident that sparked emotions behind ‘Obak Bhalobasha’

In 1987, the accidental death of Babna’s elder brother Tanna, who was in the Air Force, left a huge scar on his family. Babna was only 18 at the time. The incident changed his perception of the world and life completely. He turned to spirituality for solace and took a break from everything, including Warfaze. Although the band was really taking off that year. Many questions crossed his mind but he had answers to a few only. At that time, he began to express his feelings in tunes and his thoughts in lyrics. According to Babna, there was no plan for them; they were outcomes of spontaneous feelings. And sharing the compositions with Warfaze was accidental. It happened when the band was thinking about their debut album.

"Obak Bhalobasha" by Warfaze
The album cover of “Obak Bhalobasha” by Warfaze. Photo: Collected

‘Obak Bhalobasha’ meanings and metaphors

While many listeners perceive “Obak Bhalobasha” as a love song, it is actually an ode to the love of existence. The first part of the song narrates the profound realisation of encountering something so immense that it inundates one’s being.

The song beckons the listener to surrender to that experience, allowing the lights to fade out letting the stars empower their silent communication; in such an environment, the roar of the sea serves as a guiding voice – at that moment, a person doesn’t want anything to distract him from these feelings.

In moments of such intense feelings, one can realise what survival really is. Being alive is a wonderful gift that costs us nothing in return. This feeling of gratitude overcomes all complaints and sufferings of the soul.

“Obak Bhalobasha” symbolises a heartfelt tribute to the very essence of existence. It awakens a deep appreciation for the life bestowed upon us. In one of the interviews, Babna expressed his spiritual state at that time and how his waves of emotion were in line with the waves of the mighty Bay of Bengal.

With the realisation and overwhelming state, it feels for a while that the eternity of time has stopped until one starts to breathe again and bursts into tears of happiness.
The song accurately reflects the environment in which it was composed, inviting listeners to immerse themselves in its depth and emotion. Babna fondly recalls that the only thing missing from that unforgettable night was a starry sky, which he subsequently included in the song.

To truly feel the essence of “Obak Bhalobasha”, one may visit the T&T rest house on a starlit night and experience the song’s magic firsthand.

Recording ‘Obak Bhalobasha’

Russell Ali came from the US to work on Warfaze’s second album. Babna was busy with studies at that time and that’s why he couldn’t fully be involved during the recording of “Obak Bhalobasha”. Tipu and Russell together completed most of the work. After Babna explained to Russell his thoughts and the chord progression of the song, Russell created the piano pitch. The song was recorded at Sargam Studio. Russell also played the guitar solo. After a few takes, he was able to express the emotion “Obak Bhalobasha” demanded. After Sargam relocated to Moghbazar and resumed the rest of the recording work, they found that the guitar solo had been mistakenly erased. It was heartbreaking for them. Russell had to play the solo again. After a few takes, it was close to the previous solo but not exactly the same.

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Though the audience first got the charm of “Obak Bhalobasha” in 1994, the song was introduced to a later generation of audiences through the album “Path Chala” (2009). This album was mainly a collection of popular songs by the band Warfaze. The songs are re-recorded keeping the original tune unchanged. The later version of “Obak Bhalobasha” was decreased to 7.19 minutes which was originally an 8.37-minute song.
The older version had a 1.50-minute guitar solo at the intro that ended with the sound of crashing ocean waves and the screams of hawks. The new version does not contain any guitar solos. Those more familiar with the older version may find the new one less connecting, as the guitar solo was a captivating element for the audience.

About Babna Karim

Babna Karim is the former bassist of Warfaze. Who is a mechanical engineer and resides in the US. He joined the Warfaze in 1986. His first composition for the band was “Bicchinno Abeg”. He also came up with songs like “Brishti Nemechey”, “Jokhon”, “Obak Bhalobasha”, “Ekti Chele”, “Boshe Achi” and more. He completed his post-graduation at Texas Tech University and later worked as a lecturer at BUET for a brief time.

Author: Md. Imran
Newsroom editor, Ekhon TV
Featured Image: MuSophia
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