The Songbird Falls Silent!
By: Mool Raj
Before healing up the festering wound caused to the psyche of millions of song and music loving men and women across the sub-continent at the sad demise of the Daughter of India Lata Mangeshkar on February 06,2022, another brunt of blow came in soon in only one week’s gap at the sad passing away of the songbird Gitasree Sandhya Mukherjee on February 14, 2022 thus equally making a deep scar in the hearts and souls of her millions fans and admirers who listened to her iconic voice over last six decades . Who can forget her song “Ghoom Ghoom Chand Jhiki Miki Tara Bhora Ae Madhobi Raat” and “Mayaboti Meghelo Tondra”.
But on her eternal journey she has this time, not with drowsiness but with lasting and never ending sleep traversed to the world of no return of eternal sleep.A recipient of numerous accolades adding feathers in her crown over her long singing career , including top Civilian Award of Banga Bibhuson of West Bengal, only a couple of weeks ago she was awarded with Padmashree- a fourth grade in ranking of Civilian Award of Central Government of India which she decided to decline to recieve. In her response to the Central Government of India’s decision, she said that she was disparaged and degraded by those in the government who perhaps did not know her and fail to measure her towering height in the right earnest where she is gracefully placed over the decades.
> Presumably, being unable to absorb the shock, in the following day of Govt.’s decision to decorate her with Padmashree, a fourth grade top Civilian Award she was admitted to hospital from where she never returned home and passed away leaving her millions of fans and admirers in the sea of grief and anguish.Her unforgettable song, “Ekhono onek dure jete hobe, Modhumalatir daake, Hoyto kichunahi pabo, Aye birstijhepedhandibomepe’ ‘ O bakbakumpaeyra,Champachameligolaperbaage, Aeshudugaaner din, ketumiamaredaake,’ ‘Aepoth Jodi nashes hoi ,Aemodhurate ‘ and lot many more iconic songs to name, has transcended the barrier of time, and will resonate in the ears of millions listener in the coming years and decades. She has mesmerized her audiences as playback singer in films like Saptapodi, Agni Porikkha, DeyaNeya, Pita Putro, Pothe Holo Deri and lot many more to name in years and decades.Born in Narendranath Mukherjee and Hemprova Devi at Dhakuria, Calcutta (Kolkata) on October 4, 1931, she was the youngest of six children. Sandhyajee started her music training under the direction of Pandit Santosh KumerBasu. Her guru was Ustad BadeGhulam Ali Khan followed by his son Ustad Munawar Ali Khan, under whom she mastered Indian classical music. Though classically trained, the bulk of her work consists of Bengali modern songs. She began her career in Mumbai singing Hindi songs starting with a song “BolpapihaBol” in film Taarana with Latajee in 1950 starring Dilip Kumar and Modhubala. Sandhyajee sang, as a playback singer in 17 Hindi films including one in Saaza starring DevAnand and Nimmi.
During her days in Mumbai, she had excellent relation with LataMangeshkar who visited Sandhyajee’s house at Dhakura, Kolkata in one occasion as a mark of friendship with each other. She decided to comeback to and settle in her home town Kolkata in 1952 due to personal reasons.Her last known collaboration is arguably with the Bengali legendary singer Hemanta Mukherjee with whom she sang numerous duets primarily as playback for Bengali movies. Hemanta and Sandhya became known as the voices behind the pairing of the superstar Mohanayak Uttam Kumar and his numerous heroines, notably being the Mohanyika Suchitra Sen, whose singing voice she became.
> During our liberation war, Sandhyajee joined the mass movement among Indian artists to raise fund for the millions of refugees who had poured into Kolkata and West Bengal to escape the persecution of occupied forces of Pakistan Army and to raise global awareness for the cause of Bangladesh. Sandhyajee assisted Musician Samar Das as he set up the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra.On the occasion of release of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from the prison cell of Pakistan, Sandhyajee released a song “Bangabandhu Tumi Phire Ele”. She later became one of the first foreign artists to visit Dhaka, performing at an open-air concert at Paltan Maidan in Dhaka to celebrate the first Ekushey February after independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
> Her memory will remain afresh in the minds of million fans and admirers who lent their ears to her unforgettable songs for decades. May God grant her with eternal peace and further may Godgrant members of the family with enough courage and strength to endure the loss.
> On her demise, the voice of Songbird falls silent but her undying voice will echo in her millions of fans admirers for many more decades to come.Post Script: The moment I was closing this write up, another heart breaking news came to me, revealing the sad demise of renowned singer and composer BappiLahiri— an icon in the world of Indian music who sang ‘Chalte. Chalte mere ye geetyaadrakhna, kabhialbidanakehna (As you walk, remember this song of mine. Don’t ever say farewell).Ironically his fans and admirers had to bid him farewell at cremation site on February 17,2022 leaving the music lovers deeply shocked.