Geetashree Sandhya Mukherjee
• E Shudhu Gaaner Din
Bengali Adhunik Gaan (The Bengali Modern Song)The Gramophone Company - Columbia S/33ESX.4268 - P.1980
A1 Gaane Mor Kon Indradhanu - Agni Pariksha
A2 Akaasher Astaragey - Suryamukhi
A3 Jani Na Phurabe Kobey - Sabar Uparey
A4 O Bak Bak Bakam Bakam - Mayamriga
A5 Tomarey Bhalobeshechhi - Natun Jiban
A6 Teer Bedha Pakhi Aar - Pita Putra
B1 Tuhu Mamo Mono Pran Hey - Anthony Firingee
B2 E Geene Prajapati - Deva Neya
B3 Du Chokher Bristitey - Sravan Sandhya
B4 Badho Jhulana - Basanta Bahar
B5 Keno E Hridoy - Nayika Sangbad
B6 E Shudhu Gaaner Din - Pathey Holo Deri
I have been very busy lately with completely new tasks and working more than full time in book publishing as editor and graphic designer. This last part has taken most energy away from editing any post and this may explain why there was such a long silence here! I was hoping to keep posting at least a couple of times a week but Alas, no such luck yet. I will not quit posting but unfortunately I have to realize that with my current workload I will be an infrequent poster for still some time to come. Fortunately I have so many very good friends and the following posts were kindly prepared by some of them. You will not suffer since they are of very high quality and I am more than happy to have been given this kind assistance.
First out is a Bengali LP by Geetashree Sandhya Mukherjee from my good friends Costis and Arvind who helped out before. It is Costis rip and photos, and Arvind wrote the high quality accompanying notes! It makes me so very happy each time these guys bring in such lovely music and all I have to do is some editing and minor cosmetics. Well, and adding the names to the tracks and track listings... so there is always a little something to fiddle with that also takes a little time but that is also some sort of a therapy while listening to the music. I hope you like it!
Here's what Arvind wrote:
"Did you listen to her before? She has a lovely voice....and the first song is for me, like a balm....soothing after a rough day!"
This is a beautiful collection of songs by an artist who remains almost unknown outside Bengal, though one, who according to me, deserves much more recognition. Someone rightly said that her voice is like "liquid honey". On this record, she sings a selection of her film songs. Most popular filmi and non-filmi Bengali music from the time when this was recorded falls under the larger umbrella of Bengali Modern Song.
Bengali Adhunik Gaan
- The Bengali Modern Song
The trend of composing modern song forms the most important musical phenomenon in Bengal during the post Tagore period. Adhunik gaan literally means "modern songs". Although, to outsiders, this may seem an extremely ambiguous way of nomenclature, it has particular motivations. The term Modern is relative – the period implied is from the third decade of the 20th Century to around the 70s when it reached its apex.
Bangla music traditionally has been classified mainly by the region of origin and the creators of the musical genre, such as Nazrul geeti (written and composed by Kazi Nazrul Islam), ghombhira (unique to a specific area in Bangladesh), etc. However, this prevented the ability to classify any music that failed to fit into any of the classes.
In the period just before Indian independence (Bengal, under British rule, was a part of one massive India that does not exactly correspond to the India of current day), several new minor musical groups emerged, mainly as playback songs for movies. These songs failed to fit into any particular genre, but seemed to be tied together by common theme of "music for the masses". Most of the music tended to be aimed at the mainstream audience - popular catchy tunes with simple words, and music that was inspired by forms of light classical music, folk and Western music. Hence, a miscellaneous category, Adhunik Gaan (or Adhunik Songeet), was created, since, at that time, this music was "modern".
Although over time these so-called "modern" songs have become fairly old, they continue to be called by the same name. Interestingly, this group of song has grown faster than any other, since it is a miscellaneous category that can accommodate anything that fails to fit elsewhere. The common theme continues to exist. So, although the nomenclature itself might not be as insightful, the genre itself is still well-defined.
This modern musical experimentation in Calcutta also formed the background to the modern songs and film music of many other parts of India, most notably that of Bollywood. The main artists who popularized modern Bengali songs, both filmi and non-filmi, and who also gained much of their popularity through them were Hemanta Mukherjee, Manna Dey, Sandhya Mukherjee, Shyamal Mitra, Arati Mukherjee, Kishore Kumar, Sachin Dev Burman, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar, Satinath Mukherjee and Jaganmoy Mitra. Many of them went on to become legends as music directors and singers in Bollywood as well, and are household names in India today.
Geetashree Sandhya Mukherjee
(Bengali: সন্ধ্যা মুখোপাধ্যায়, Shondha Mukhopaddhae)* (b. 1931)
“I am not anyone’s rival in the world of music because I sing only for myself and singing is my aarti, my pooja.”
If Lata Mangeshkar is the nightingale of India, then 'Geetashri' Sandhya Mukherjee is the golden voice of Bengali music. No Bengali who loves music will ever be able to get over the spell of this honey-voiced singer of Bengal. Her recorded repertoire reaches beyond 3000 songs comprising a versatile range – bhajan, thumri, khayal, Tagore, modern Bengali song, and playback in Hindi and Bengali films. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saheb once said, “Sandhya is comparable with Sandhya alone.”
Born on October 4, 1931, in Dhakuria, Kolkata, Sandhya never had the chance of visiting her village home in Jeerat within Balagarh district. Dhakuria in those days was far from the glittery space filled with shopping malls and multi-storied building and even the over bridge did not exist at the time. Nor were there the dirt and the slush one encounters today. The sky was open and blue. The earth was filled with trees, flowers, fruits and birds. The chugging sound of a passing train would often drill holes of sound into the silent and dark evenings. A little girl would eagerly stare at the trains passing away through the square of an open window. In the evenings, she would go to the terrace of her Dhakuria (it was then a village) home and sing Krishna bhajans with the immediate family as her only audience. This simple incident laid the seeds of one of the greatest singers Bengal has ever produced.
Why the bhajans of Krishna? Krishna was the reigning deity at the Mukherjee home. Narendranath Mukherjee, her father, worked in the railways and was a great lover of music. Her mother Hemaprabha was a very good vocalist. Bhajans invoking the Lord Krishna were sung every evening during the pooja. Her academic career began at Dhakuria Balika Vidyalaya. She later shifted to Binodini High School.
Hers was the voice the most in demand at every school function. When she was 13 years old, Sandhya put in a stage appearance too, not as the heroine but as a maid! That was the time when HMV (His Masters Voice) released her first gramophone record. The song she sang for the record was Tumi Phiraye Diyechho Jaarey (the one you have turned back), a brilliant debut for a girl so young.
As her heart lay in music and not in academics so after her matriculation examinations, she stopped formal education and began to pursue her only love – music. Before she completed her schooling, her eldest brother placed her under the tutelage of Santosh Basu Mullick to study classical raga-based music. She then trained under Jamini Nath Gangopadhyay, Gyan Prakash Ghosh, Chinmoy Lahiri, Dhruvtara Joshi, AT Kannan and Pandit Ganpat Rao. But it was Ustad Bade Ghulam Khan who tied the naada around her slender wrist to drill her in the complex and fine intricacies of Hindustani classical music. Though he is no more, Sandhya’s ties with his son sustains till this day.
The rest, as they say, is history. RC Boral, the music director of New Theaters gave her the song Ha Ha Ha Hans Ke Jiye Ja in a film called Anjangarh (1948) when she was just 17 years old. She later sang Ashkon Me Chhipi Mohabbat Ki Kahani in the film Pehla Aadmi (1950), which gave her immense popularity in Calcutta and then moved to Bombay where she earned fame with a duet with Hemant Kumar, Gupchup Gupchup Pyar Karen in the film Sazaa (1951). After these initial successes, she sung for most of the leading composers in Bengal and Bombay, but she is most fondly remembered for her collaboration with Hemanta Mukherjee, with whom she sang numerous duets, primarily as playback for Bengali films produced from Kolkata. Hemanta and Sandhya became known as the voices behind the pairings of the Bengali superstar Uttam Kumar and his numerous heroines, most notably being the actress Suchitra Sen, whose singing voice she became.
Very recently, a Bengali television channel had organized a twin recital of golden hits of Sandhya Mukherjee and Manna Dey. Sandhya, 78, and Manna Dey, 90, sang unfettered for two hours to a packed audience that remained enthralled and cocooned in the golden era of Bengali music in cinema and in modern songs.
*Note that "Mukherjee" evolved from the Sanskrit Mukhopadhyay (Bengali: মুখোপাধ্যায় Mukhopaddhae). Mukhopadhyay is from the purer Sanskrit form Mukhyopadhyay (in Sanskrit Mukhya - chief, Upadhyay - teacher, not necessarily a religious teacher). In modern parlance, the two are often used interchangeably, much like other such pairs (Banerjee/Bandhyopadhyay, Chatterjee/Chattyopadhyay), with the latter being used primarily in religious contexts.
Some detailed reading on the history of Bengali music here and here
The languid and dreamlike song the record begins with can be heard on youtube here