Hemanta Kumar Mukherjee (Jun 16, 1920 - Sep 26, 1989) was a legendary singer, composer, and producer and dominated Bollywood playback singing in the 50's and 60s. Also famous for his Rabindra sangeet, Hemanta did playback singing for over 50 hindi movies.
Hemanta had three brothers. Elder brother, Tarajyoti, was a short-story writer in Bengali. Youngest brother, Amal, composed music for some Bengali movies, most notably Hospital and Abak Prithibi. He also recorded a few Bengali songs in the 1960s.In 1945, Hemanta married Bela Mukherjee, a singer from Bengal. Although Bela had sung some popular songs in a Bengali movie titled Kashinath (1943) - with music by Pankaj Mullick - she did not actively pursue her musical career after marriage.Hemanta and Bela have two children: son Jayant, and daughter Ranu. Ranu pursued a music career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with somewhat limited success. Jayant is married to Moushmi Chatterjee, an Indian film actress who was popular in the 1970s.
In the mid 1940s, Hemanta became an active member of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) and started an association with another active IPTA member - songwriter and composer - Salil Chowdhury.
Hemanta migrated to Bombay in 1951 and joined the Filmistan Studios. The music of Anandmath (1952) was a moderate success. Perhaps, the most notable songs from this movie is vande mataram sung by Lata Mangeshkar, which Hemanta set to a marching tune.
Following Anandmath, Hemanta scored music for a few Filmistan movies like Shart in subsequent years, the songs of which received moderate popularity. Simultaneously, Hemanta also gained popularity in Bombay as a playback singer. His songs playbacked for actor Dev Anand under music director Sachin Dev Burman in movies like Jaal, House No. 44, and Solva Saal became quite popular.
In the 1970s, Hemanta's contribution in Hindi films was nominal. He scored music for a handful of his home productions, but none of these movies were successful nor the music of them. In Bengal, however, he remained the foremost exponent of Rabindrasangeet. His non-film output was popular in the early part of the decade. In 1971, Hemanta debuted as a film director in for his self-produced Bengali movie titled Anindita. The movie didn't fare exceedingly well at the box office. In the early to mid 1970s, two major music composers in Bengal, Nachiketa Ghosh and Robin Chatterjee, who had worked closely with Hemanta since the early 1950s, passed away. Simultaneously, music composed by Hemanta for Bengali films like Fuleswari, Raag Anurag and Dadar Kirti established Hemanta as the major film music composer in the Bengal movie scene. In 1979, Hemanta re-recorded some of his earlier works with composer Salil Chowdhury from the 1940s and 1950s. This album, titled 'Legend of Glory, vol. 2' was a major commercial success, despite Hemanta's aged and slightly tired voice.In September 1989, he travelled to Dhaka, Bangladesh to receive the Michael Madhusudan Award. He performed a concert in Dhaka as well. Immediately after returning from this trip, he suffered a major cardiac arrest on September 26th and breathed his last at 11:15 pm in a nursing home in South Calcutta. Interestingly, even 15 years after his death, Gramophone Company of India releases at least one album by him every year, repackaging his older songs, because of the commercial viability of his songs. His legacy still lives on through the numerous songs he has recorded, music he has composed and through many male singers in Bengal and the rest of India who continue to imitate his singing style.
Movie Lovers commemorates Shri. Hemanta Kumar Mukherjee's ( Mukhopadhyay ) death anniversary of this Bollywood Legend.