Monday, June 29, 2009

Manobendra Mukherjee in the 70s.

Manobendra Mukherjee in the 70s.

Manobendra Mukherjee was considered as the greatest classical singer that Bengal had ever produced during the golden age. He had the weighty bass like Dhanonjoy Bhattacharya, classical control like Satinath Mukherjee and Akhil Bondhu Ghosh, variation and modulation like Manna Dey. To a big section of Bengali listeners he used to be considered the Neil Harvey of Bengali modern songs. Just as Neil Harvey used his wristy stroke play to establish himself as the greatest stylish batsman of all times, Manobendra Mukherjee used his classical touch, (in musical terms called harkat) in such a stylish manner that he emerged as the most romantic singer of the golden age during an era when melodious singers like Shyamal Mitra, Hemanta Mukherjee, Subir Sen, Tarun Banerjee were big names. His emergence in Bengali musical arena created a dimension which may be called romantic saga which in turn swayed the innate emotions of middleclass Bengali listeners of the golden age in the world of melody.

His song “emni kore porbe mone baki jiban dhore”, sung in the mid-50s flabbergasted the Bengali audience and brought a new expression for plutonic romance. The lyrics in interlude including “sabai bole bhalobashar moron naaki nei, proti rate tara hoye dei je dekha sei” created everlasting impact in the world of romance which listeners cherished for the last 50 years. Chitta Ranjan Chatterji, Ex-Chief Public Prosecutor, Bankshall Court, a great admirer of Manobendra Mukherjee had echoed the emotions Manobendra himself, when he interviewed the legendary singer in a musical function organized in Beerpara (Paikpara) in 1986, where Manobendra admitted that if “nai chondon lekha” created his romantic debut in Bengali musical arena, “emni kore porbe mone” was the most romantic song he had sung in his illustrious career.

While the 60s showed Manobendra’s skillful compositions both in Bengali films and Bengali modern songs, the 70s showed his jugglery in classical creations. His notable creations in the 60s included Uttam Kumar’s Mayamrigo, 1960, Biswajeet’s Godhuli Belai, 1964, Bosonto Choudhury’s Bodhu, 1962, Bosonto Choudhury’s Koshtipathor, etc. His modern songs “Jodi amake dekho tumi udashi” composed by Abhijit Banerjee, “rimjhim baje monjiro kar” composed by himself, “koto je soyechi betha” composed by Chinmoy Lahiri, “bare bare ke jeno dake” composed by Sailen Mukherjee, “mayur kanthi ratero nile” composed by Sudhin Dasgupta, “ami parini bujhite parini” composed by Salil Choudhury, “amar pather panthe” composed by Satinath Mukherjee, to name a few.

The 70s was marked by the decline of Bengali modern songs. When Manobendra saw that composers like Robin Chatterji or Anil Bagchi were no more in the 70s, he composed most of the songs himself. Quality lyricists like Shyamal Gupta, Pulak Banerjee, Pabitra Mitra provided the romantic lyrics for him during that age. His landmark songs during that period included “ei ganga ei padda”, “borosha klanto o duti nayan mele”, mone pore jay koto shriti mayabhora”, “hajar jonom dhore”, “jaak na megher araale chand”, “jolke tora jaabi jare”, “halka megher palki chore chandrakola jay”, “ami je mondo tate”, “phiria dekona mahua bonero pakhi”, to name a few. He was such a dynamic singer that 700 to 800 songs sung by him were composed by himself.

Even in the film arena Manobendra contributed in films like Uttam Kumar’s Joy joyanti (for which he won different awards including Indira Gandhi award for excellence in music composition), Soumitra Chatterji’s Sudur Niharika, Joto Mot Tato Bath, Sadhok Bamakhepa, to name a few.

One of the biggest achievements of Manobendra was bringing junior artists from grass root level and reaching them to limelight with his tunes. His landmark tunes for other singers included “kemone janabo bolo e pranero bedona” sung by Shefali Chakrabarty”, “champakali go koto name dekechi tomay” sung by Tarun Banerjee, “ami sundar bole tai to bondhu besecho bhalo amay” sung by Alpona Banerjee, “gane gane ami je khuji tomay” sung by Supriti Ghosh, “kuasha ghera neel pahare” sung by Bani Ghoshal, to name a few.

Manobendra Mukherjee showed his excellence in so many diverse fields that separate articles can be written on his nazrulgeeti, bagbajarer gaan, puratoni, ragprodhan, kirtan, bhakti geeti, shyama sangeet, etc. His death in early 90s, had brought huge loss to Akashbani Kolkata, Kolkata Doordarshan, all the record companies of Bengal and music journals where he was an indispensable figure. His songs and compositions should be restored, preserved and revisited.

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