Sudhin Dasgupta – A creative genius of Golden age of Bengali Modern songs
In the 50s, 60s and 70s, during the Golden age of Bengali Modern songs, it was very difficult to create a distinct identity in terms of compositions as it was a transition period between use of classical music with westernised effects and incorporation of folk and other rural tunes in the urbanised music base. On one hand the classical legacy created by Legends like Viswadev Chatterji, Ghyanendra Prosad Goswami, Tarapodo Chakraborty were carried forward by Manobendra Mukherjee, Manna Dey, Dhanonjoy Bhattacharya, Satinath Mukherjee, Akhil Bandhu Ghosh and others. Although the noted singers did use pure classical only in certain songs but the classical touch was evident in all their performances. On the other hand the folk singers like SD Burman, Nirmalendu Choudhury inspired Shyamal Mitra and others to maintain the colour, flora, fauna of Bengal’s romantic landscape 1.
In the golden age, music composers and lyricists in Bengal had reached the zenith of creative compositions. Noted lyricists included Gouriprasanna Mojumdar, Shaymal Gupta, Pronob Roy, Sailen Roy and others. Music composers included Robin Chatterji, Pabitra Chatterji, Anol Chatterji, Anupam Ghatak, Anil Bagchi, Gyanprokash Ghosh, Salil Chowdhury, Nochiketa Ghosh and others. In the same age Sudhin Dasgupta, came up with his westernised compositions and contributed to Bengali modern songs, both with his lyrics and memorable music composition.
He had showed his skills in playing the Piano and with the expertise in a number of musical instruments, his compositions had an identity of his own in an age when every music composer galvanised the horizon of Bengali Modern song with their unique style 2.
Notable compositions of Sudhin Dasgupta include “Moyurkonthi rater nile” for Manobendra Mukherjee, “Ei Jhirjhirjhir batashe” for Dhanonjoy Bhattacharya, “Akash eto meghla” for Satinath Mukherjee, “keno tumi phire ele” for Shyamal Mitra, etc. The big challenge of Sudhin Dasgupta was to face Robin Chatterji, who was dominating the Bengali film music, and modern song with his versatile creations. Robin Chatterji had introduced Portugese folk song in the film Deeper naam tiya rong, “o amar sat rajari dhon” and “phiriti bosakor kure gi dise” sung by Shyamal Mitra and Bhaisnav angik bhajan “O mon kokhon shuru kokhon je shesh ke jane”in Uttamkumar’s film Kamallata, 1969. Besides he composed prayer song to kirtan to classical song in Lalubhulu, 1958, for Manobendra Mukherjee.
Sudhin Dasgupta changed the horizon of Bengali film song by asking Manna Dey to sing for Uttamkumar whose major songs were previously sung by Hemanta Mukherjee whose voice suited him the most. Sudhin Dasgupta went to Bombay where Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar were busy in the recording of songs of film Pakizaa with Gulam Mohammad and Naushad. When Sudhin Dasgupta recorded the song for Uttamkumar’s film Shonkhobela, 1966, titled “Dekechi ke age ke diyeche sara” as a duet song for Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar, Naushad said the words could not be understood as it was composed in Bengali, for the tune was excellent 3.
The film Shonkhobela was a superhit film and Sudhin Dasgupta’s composition for Manna Dey “Ami agantuk” and for Lata Mangeshkar “Aj mon cheche ami hariye jabo” was well acclaimed by music lovers across the nation. Sudhin Dasgupta shaped the career of Legendary singer Manna Dey who was busy in Bombay singing different types of songs under the patronage of Shankar Jaikishan, Roshan, Salil Chowdhury and others. After Shonkobela, Manna Dey formed an immortal combination in playback singing with Uttamkumar, providing sensational performance in films like Antony firingi, 1967, Nishipadda,1970, Stri, 1971, Sanyasi Raja, 1975, and winning national awards and Bengal Film Journalist Association (BFJA) awards one after the other.
Notable Bengali films where Sudhin Dasgupta composed music include Dakharkora, 1958, Shonkhobela, 1966, Choddhobeshi, 1971, Har Mana Har, 1972, Teen Bhubaner Pare, etc. He has used bayul ( a type of folk song in rural Bengal) in “ogo tomar shesh bicharer asay” for Manna Dey, South Indian tune in “bachao ke acho” in Chaddabeshi, rural touch in “rangila ranga dehe bhab jegeche” for Manobendra Mukherjee, Westernised chorus effect in “aro dure cholo jai” for Asha Bhosle. His lyrics were also very colourful like his compositions. He even taught music to established singer like Bonoshri Sengupta.
An archive should be created where Sudhin Dasgupta’s compositions are restored and preserved for future generations to get inspiration from creative music in the Golden age of Bengali modern songs.
My father Chitta Ranjan Chatterji, Ex – Chief Public Prosecutor, Bankshall Court, Kolkata was the Cultural Secretary of Scottish Church College, Kolkata, the same college where Legendary singer Manna Dey, Eminent Film Director Nabyendu Chatterji ( Director of Award winning films like Chopper, Mansur miyar ghora, etc.), Parthoprotim Chowdhury ( Director of Award Winning film Chayasurjo)studied. In 1956, my father conducted the cultural program in Scottish Church College, inviting Manobendra Mukherjee, Shymal Mitra, Satinath Mukherjee to sing in front of huge crowd in North Kolkata. Satinath Mukherjee with his song “Bonopatho majhe” got huge applaud which was even outplayed by Manobendra Mukherjee with his song “Emni kore porbe mone baki jibon dhore”. The same crowd was spellbound with the orchestration of Sudhin Dasgupta in the song “Elo Borosha je sohosa money tai”.
Sudhin Dasgupta played his compositions in Piano in Public function held in DumDum, Kolkata, in 1955, where Classical Singer Sandhya Mukherjee performed her songs of Uttamkumar’s film Sabar Upare. The program was held at a place close to Sudhin Dasgupta’s own house in Kalicharan Ghosh Road, Sinthee, Kolkata.
Manna Dey gave memorable interviews in DD India, where he said Naushad’s remark about Sudhin Dasputa composition was that “awaaz ki ahmiat samajh me nahi aya, lekin sur bahut hi umdah hai”.
Article By Souvik Chatterji
Master of Law from Warwick University, Coventry, UK.
Master of Law from Case Western Reserve Univerwsity, Cleveland, Ohio,USA.
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