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Biography

Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyay (Bengali: হেমন্ত কুমার মুখোপাধ্যায়; Hemonto Kumar Mukhopaddhae) also known as Hemanta Mukherjee (16 June 1920 – 26 September 1989) was an Bengali singer, composer and producer. He sang in Hindi films under the name Hemant Kumar.

Hemanta was born in the city of Varanasi, India although his family hailed from a village named Baharu in West Bengal.He joined Jadavpur University to pursue Engineering,however, he quit academics to pursue a career in music, despite parental objection. He briefly tried his hand at literature and also published a short story in a prestigious Bengali magazine called Desh, but by the late-1930s he was committed entirely to music.

Under the influence of his friend Subhas Mukhopadhyay, Hemanta recorded his first song for All India Radio in 1933. Hemanta's music career was primarily mentored by the Bengali musician, Sailesh Duttagupta. In an interview on television in the early 1980s, Hemanta had mentioned that he had also received classical music training from Ustad Faiyaz Khan, but his tutelage was cut short by Ustad's untimely death.

In 1937, Hemanta cut his first gramophone disc under the Columbia label. Thereafter, every year Hemanta continued to record non-film discs for the Gramophone Company of India (GCI) till 1984. Hemanta is considered a foremost exponent of Rabindrasangeet. His first recorded Rabindrasangeet was in the Bengali film Priya Bandhabi (1944). The song was Pather Sesh Kothaye.

In the late 1950s, Hemanta ventured into movie production under his own banner Hemanta-Bela productions. The first movie under this banner was a Bengali film directed by Mrinal Sen, titled Neel Akasher Neechey (1959). The story of this film was based on the travails of a Chinese street hawker in Calcutta in the backdrop of India's freedom struggle. The movie went onto win the President's Gold Medal – the highest honour for a movie from Government of India. In the next decade, Hemanta's production company was renamed Geetanjali productions and it produced several Hindi movies.

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