A voice was so powerful that it changed lives. It had the power to make people cry and smile at the same time. In this article we share some interesting incidents from the life of the legendary singer Sandhya Mukherjee
By Somashis Gupta
“Borobabu, I want to withdraw my provident fund” requested Nihar Ranjan Das to the superintendent in Writers’ Building Calcutta. “But it’s just been 3 years, what is the urgency?” the superintendent was curious. “Well… actually ….in fact …..I … I want to buy a bike.” That year Calcutta witnessed the highest sale in bikes. Such was the impact of the song ‘Ai Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoy’.
If that song influenced an entire generation, wait till you hear this. In the year 1972, a radio channel relayed a song ‘Bangabandhu phire elo tomar, swopner swadhin Banglay’. The song was such that impacted an entire nation. The song had the power to soothe a newly formed country, Bangladesh which was broken by the liberation war of 1971.
The singer of these songs was none other than Sandhya Mukherjee who left us forever on the 15th of February. Her mortal remains perished but she left behind her a heritage which no fire can ever consume. It is a heritage of music and melody which has the power to move us and inspire us today and in the days to come.
Trained by maestros like Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Begam Akhtar and many more she had mastered the art and delivered songs for cinema as well as other forms of music. Her singing excellence was such that in a private function in Kamal Dey’s house, Raj Kapoor was so impressed that he immediately insisted her to sing for his upcoming movie Jaghte Raho.
In spite of her great repute and fame, Sandhya Mukherjee was well known for her humbleness. All the musicians who worked with her remember her not only for her great voice but also for her modest behavior. She was so down to earth that whenever she was in the studio for recording she used to gift a garland of flower and chocolates to everyone present.
Her dedication to her work was such that during the recording of the song Tumi Swapno na Sotti , the lyricist Gauriprassana Mazumdar called her up the evening before the recording. He wanted to change a few lines in the song. Now an artist of such repute usually would react to such a proposal. But Sandhya Mukherjee was patient enough to listen to the changed version over telephone and picked it up overnight. The next day she sang the song flawlessly at the recording.
Examples of her respect and dedication to music can be seen on many occasions. Once, Salil Chaudhury was scheduled to visit their house in Dhakuria for rehearsals at 10 in the morning. Young Sandhya waited for her guru eagerly. It was already 11:30. She was advised to eat something as she did not eat since morning. But she refused to do so and waited for her Guru to come. The rehearsals continued till late in the evening and only after that she had her food.
Her voice was such that it made people cry. Even legends like Uttam Kumar could not stop his tears on one occasion. It was the recording of the songs for the movie Agni Parikhya at the technician studio. Interestingly Uttam Kumar too was good singer, and when Sandhya used to perform Ei Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoy in stage Uttambabu used to join her in performance. The sequence of Tumi Bolo used to continue for a very long time on request of the audience.
The last years of her life were spent in her beloved Kolkata. Her ever charming personality continued in spite of her age. It was in a way symbolic of the refusal to get into a rut, which marked her whole life.
On the 4th of October Sandhya Mukherjee turned 91. Four months later she was to leave her house, never to return. On 16th of February she was cremated with full state honor. Admirers gathered at Rabindra Sadan where her mortal remains were kept. Scores lined both sides of the streets to take one last glimpse at her as the hearse passed carrying her mortal remains for the last rites. Salute to the legendary singer who shall live in our hearts forever.
“Life ends, Love doesn’t.”
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.