Yesterday (16th June 2020) was the 100th Anniversary of a true genius in Indian cinema. He was a fantastic singer who was adored for his rich baritone, he was a very creative composer, and he started a production house and adapted many English classics , especially the suspense thrillers) and contributed hugely to the genre of Rabindrasangeet, so much that he spawned a legion of clone singers who did very well for themselves as well. Some of them were so good, it becomes difficult to differentiate between him and his clones.
Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyaya is the unmistakable genius that I am referring to. A man who was born in Varanasi, he actually started studying Engineering in Jadavpur University before shifting over to pursue his love full time, music. He actually recorded his first song when only 15 and cut his first (non film) record that was released when 17. In his early days he was an avid follower of Pankaj Mullick, so much so he was referred to a “Chhoto Pankaj” . He started recording songs for films in the 40s and he also started composing for films. His first Rabindrasangeet recording was actually for a film. Commercial success sadly eluded him for a few years. He moved to Mumbai thanks to his association with the IPTA (Indian Progressive Theatre Association) which was actually started in the wake of the Great Bengal Famine and the British Inaction to save lives (actually the Brits and their actions CREATED the famine and caused millions of deaths, according to some estimated as many as the Holocaust in Europe , purely by diverting foodgrains from Bengal which was suffering from many years of successive drought , to Europe chiefly to England to feed the Brits during WWII). He met his great friend Salil Chowdhury in IPTA and the two formed a long term friendship and a professional creative partnership as well.
I love his baritone, one of the best in the business. This fantastic song is from the early 50s movie Anarkali with Beena Rai (in the title role) and Pradeep Kumar as well as Sulochana and Mubarak (who acted as Akbar) . The music director’s job was actually first given to Vasant Prakash, who started recording the songs.
However he got sacked when he had a fall out with the producers. C Ramchandra came in and insisted he do the music all over again and also insisted he do all the songs with Lata Mangeshkar.
Just one song recorded with Geeta Dutt (Aa jaan-e wafaa) stayed in the movie. It remains the only song composed by Vasant Prakash in the movie, all the other ten songs are by C Ramchandra.
This wonderful song was composed by C Ramachandra in the raag Bageshri.
The musical score was so amazing, the movie despite the non acting by Pradeep Kumar in the role of Shahjehan, was the biggest grosser of the year, earning the equivalent of Rs 350-400 Crores adjusted for inflation.
An amazing duet that’s pure magic with the combined talents of the unmistakable geniuses.
Have a great day ahead, folks while we stay safe and resolute in the face of Chinese Virus and sabre rattling