Robin Chatterji – the romantic composer of classic films.
Robin Chatterji had modernized the listeners of Bengali songs in classic films with his westernized tunes over a period of 25 years. He helped the pair of Suchitra Sen and Uttam Kumar with melodious songs in the early part of the career. In Sabar Upare, released in 1955, his compositions for Sandhya Mukherjee including “ghum ghum chand” picturised on Suchitra Sen became superhit. There was blank verse song for Dhanonjoy Bhattacharya titled “kataro aghate” in the same film. The film was remade in hindi with the title Kala Pani.
His composition for Sandhay Mukherjee “dheere bondhu dheere” in the film Saheb Bibi Gholum was equally melodious. He was probably at his best in his compositions for the film Lalu Bhulu, which was remade in hindi with the title Dosti. The songs of Lalu Bhulu which were written by Sailen Ray and sung by Manobendra Mukherjee including “ei pranjharona jaglo”, “dukkho amar shesh kore dao probhu”, “dukher pothe namli jodi”, “jar hiya akasher”, “surjo tomar prothom toron” were landmarks in Bengali film history which inspired Majrooh Sultanpuri and Laxmikant Pyarellal for the immortal compositions made in the film Dosti where the songs were sung by Rafi.
While the romantic songs of Robin Chatterji sung by Sandhya Mukherjee and picturised on Suchitra Sen like “e shudhu ganer din”, “tumi na hoy rohite kache”, “ami sapne tomay dekhechi”, “monero madhuri mishaye”, etc., amazed the viewers, his experiments in off-best films astonished the musical pandits. He experimented with Portuguese folk music in the film Deeper Naam Tiya Rong. The two songs he had given to Shyamal Mitra titled “o amar saat rajari dhan” and “phiriti basakar kure giya dishe” was unique in their orchestration, form and lyrics.
Robin Chatterji was versatile in his compositions which fulfilled the requirements of the directors of different films. His songs for Shyamal Mitra “amar sapne dekha rajkonya” in Uttam Kumar’s film Sagarika were totally different from the Baisnov-angik bhajan in the film Kamal Lata titled “o mon kokhon shuru” where the devotion towards God was at issue.
He was sublime in all the songs given in the film Pathey Holo Deri, Bipasha, Uttar Falguni, Sriti Tuku Thak, Sagarika, which became immortal over the period of years. The Bengali film industry is highly indebted to the legendary composer who was indispensable during the 50s and 60s and his use of piano had brought revolution in Bengali modern songs along with Salil Choudhury and Sudhin Dasgupta.
His notable compositions for Bengali modern songs include “gan sonanor jalsaghare” sung by Ila Bose, “ei nodi tire” sung by Sandhya Mukherjee, “amar andhar gharer pradip” and “mor premo gaan” sung by Robin Mojumdar, “brindabano pothojatri” sung by Siddheswar Mukherjee (the uncle of Manobendra Mukherjee), “alote chayate” and “chander eto alo” sung by Talat Mehmood, to mention a few.
The death of the legendary composer in 1969 had ended the legacy of the piano during the age of romantic songs over 25 years, because none of the later composers could use the piano the way it was used by Robin Chatterji. Article after articles can be devoted to the legend and it is not possible to mention the respect he commanded from the leading singers of Bengal in the golden age. His creations should be preserved and the modern composers can learn a lot from the legend.