We explore the life and legacy of Anup Ghoshal who passed away recently. We delve into his musical journey, contributions to Indian and Bengali music, international performances, and cultural impact. We try to understand his early training, collaborations with Satyajit Ray, Bollywood success, and his role as an author.
On the 15th of December 2023, the world bid farewell to one of the most iconic voices in the history of Bengali music – Anup Ghoshal. A legendary singer with an illustrious career, Ghoshal’s contributions to the world of music are etched in the hearts of millions.
Anup Ghoshal was born either in the year 1944 or 1945 to Amulya Chandra Ghoshal and Labanya Ghoshal, his journey into the world of music began at the tender age of four. His mother’s unwavering support and encouragement paved the way for his musical training, setting the stage for a remarkable career that spanned decades. His early exposure to music occurred when he sang for a children’s program, Shishu Mahal, on All India Radio, Kolkata.
His formal musical education began at the age of four and continued until he was around 26 years old. During this time, Anup Ghoshal mastered a plethora of musical forms, including Thumri, Kheyal, Bhajan, Ragpradhan, Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrulgeeti, Dwijendrageeti, Rajnikanter Gaan, modern Bengali songs, and various folk songs. His dedication to honing his craft led him to esteemed teachers such as Sangeetacharya Tarapada Chakraborty and Sangeetacharya Sukhendu Goswami. Notably, he received Rabindra Sangeet training from Debabrata Biswas and learned different Bengali songs from Manindra Chakraborty. Ghoshal’s versatile musical talent and dedication to various genres made him a revered figure in the Indian music industry.
While pursuing his academic endeavors, Ghoshal earned a degree in Humanities from Asutosh College, Kolkata, followed by a Master’s degree and Ph.D. from Rabindra Bharati University. His thesis, titled “Nazrulgeeti — Roop O Rashanabhuti,” showcased his deep understanding of the musical landscape. Ghoshal actively participated in music competitions during his studies, consistently securing the highest marks in various categories, including classical, light classical, Bengali songs (traditional and modern), Rabindra Sangeet, and folk songs.
In 1966—1967, Ghoshal stood first in the ‘Sangeet Bharati Degree Examination’ and was honored with a gold medal. His exceptional musical prowess earned him the title of National Scholar for the year 1966—1967.
Anup Ghoshal made his debut as a playback singer at the age of 19 in the movie “Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne,” written and directed by the legendary Satyajit Ray. Initially, Ray wanted to cast Kishor Kumar as Gopi, however, Kishor’s busy schedule in Bombay came in the way. Finally, Ray cast Tapan Chatterjee as Gopi and Anup Ghoshal as his voice. His association with Ray continued, and Ghoshal’s contribution as an assistant music director eventually led to him winning the National Award in 1981 for “Hirak Rajar Deshe.” Over the years, he lent his soulful voice to various Bengali films.
Soon his fame reached Bollywood and he was asked to sing for the movie Masoom by Shekhar Kapoor. What resulted was the song “Tujsa Naraz Nahi Zindagi” which made Ghoshal famous throughout India. The narrative of the song unfolds as Satyajit Ray facilitated an introduction between the artist and Kishore Kumar, who, in turn, introduced him to R D Burman. When R D Burman composed the song, he invited Ghoshal to lend his voice. Despite reservations from HMV, the music producers, who believed the song wouldn’t sell well, they were swiftly proven wrong when “Tujse Naraz Nahi” emerged as a tremendous hit. He also sang for some Bhojpuri and Assamese films in later times.
Anup Ghoshal’s musical journey extended beyond India’s borders as he performed in the UK, USA, Canada, and Germany, captivating audiences with his melodious renditions. His international tours aimed to promote Indian musical culture, showcasing the rich tradition of Bengali songs and folk music. Despite his busy schedule, Ghoshal continued his efforts to bridge the cultural gap through music.
In addition to his musical contributions, Anup Ghoshal left an indelible mark as an author with his book “Ganer Bhubane,” a comprehensive work on Indian music. The book reflects his deep insights into the world of music, providing a valuable resource for enthusiasts and scholars alike.
Anup Ghoshal’s life exemplifies dedication, passion, and an unwavering commitment to the art of music. His journey from a child prodigy to a revered playback singer and cultural ambassador showcases the transformative power of music. Anup Ghoshal’s legacy lives on in his timeless melodies, academic contributions, and the cultural bridges he built through his musical prowess.
We salute your memory Anup Ghoshal.