Manabendra Mukhopadhyay (Bengali: মানবেন্দ্র মুখোপাধ্যায়) was a Bengali singer and composer. It is considered that during the 1950s, 60s and 70s the Bengali modern songs reached its peak of excellence and that period is usually called the "Golden age of Bengali Adhunik Songs". At that time Bengal had a very unique mix of singers which inspired composers and lyricists to create innumerable treasure of creative music. Each singer had his own inimitable style and compositions were made to match their individual ability. Bengali non-film modern songs were in fact was as popular, if not more, than film songs which also reached a level of popularity in the 50s and 60s.
Coming to limelight in the early 1950s Manabendra was an innovative and stylish singer who had a strong foundation in Indian classical music. With his distinctive voice, Manabendra was an instant hit with the audience. demonstrating great talent also as an composer, using the lyrics and melody of a song with good effect. At that time Bengali modern song world had the presence of some outstanding performers like Dhananjay Bhattacharya, Manna Dey, Satinath Mukherjee, Akhil Bandhu Ghosh, Hemanta Mukhopadhyay to name a few.
* 1 Early music career
* 2 Film career
* 3 Later years
* 4 Personal life
* 5 Bengali filmography as a composer
Early music career
Being inspired by uncle Sidheshwar Mukherjee and Ratneswar Mukherjee, Manabendra impressed the listeners with his first basic disc in 1953, titled Naichondon Lekha Sriradhar chokhe nai nai shemorai. It was based on kirtan andaz, and Manabendra was trained towards Kirtans, Bhajans and Bhaktigeeti from the very early childhood. His uncles were trained classical experts and mainly due to their influence he came into the world of music. A number of his songs began to hit the airwaves including the romantic "Emni Kore Porbe Mone", and semi classically bent "Ghumayona Saheli Go". Within a short span, Manabendra drew the attention of the erstwhile leading music composers of Bengal, namely Salil Chowdhury, Sudhin Dasgupta, Robin Chatterji, Anol Chatterji, Nochiketa Ghosh, Probir Mojumdar, Gyan Prakash Ghosh, Abhijeet Banerjee, and others. His successful songs include "Ami Parini bujhite parini",and 'Jodi Jante' composed by Salil Chowdhury, "Mayur Konthi Ratero nile" and "Tari Churite Je Rekhechhi Mon Shona Kore by Sudhin Dasgupta", 'Jodi Amake Dekho Tumi Udashi' and 'Sei Chokh Kothai Tomar' by Abhijit Banerjee, "Ei neel nirjan sagore" by Probir Majumdar, "Birohini Chiro Birohini" by Himangshu Dutta, "Bone Noy Mone Mor", 'Aha Na roy Na' by Dr. Nachiketa Ghosh, "Tomar Pother Prante Moner monideep jele rekhechi" and 'Tumi Phiraye Diyechho Bole' by Satinath Mukherjee.
His own compositions also continued to grab the attention of audience like "Ami Eto Je Tomai Bhalobeschhi", "Sei Bhalo E Basanta Noi" (1960) 'Rimjhim Baje Manjira Kar' 'Kato Asha Niye Tumi Esechhile' etc. The former became a huge hit and is cherished by audience even today.The proof of this is in the fact that many audio compilations from HMV still includes this song and it is played by many radio stations.
Manabendra made a debut in the film arena by becoming the music director for Uttam Kumar's film Chapadangar Bou, (1954), where the songs were written by eminent writer Tarashankar Bandopadhyay. Before this he did a cameo in Uttam Kumar starrer film ‘Saare chuattor’and also sang a song. In Chapadangar Bou Manabendra brought in the flavour of Mahadev’s Gajon, that are sung in villages in Bengal with the song ‘Shibo He Shibo He’.According to Manabendra (in an old television interview) he gave his audition as a music director at Tarashankar’s house as the writer wanted to hear the tunes.The song mentioned earlier was composed at his house on spot. In 1958, Robin Chattopadhyay composed music for a film titled ‘Lalu Bhulu’, the story of two handicapped boys. The film was highly successful in Bengal and Manabendra sang these songs with great efficiency. ‘Jar Hiya akasher nil nilimay’, ‘Dukho amar Shesh kore dao probhu’, ‘Surjo tomar Protom toron kholo’, ‘Dukher pothe naai jodi’, ‘Ei pran jharona jaglo. The lyrics were penned by Sailen Ray. In another film ‘Nilachale Mahaprabhu’ celebrated composer Raichand Boral invited him to sing kirtans of Lord Chaitanya and the song ‘Jagannath Jagat Bandhu’ made the audiences spellbound.However, Manabendra credits a song in ‘Nabajanma’-Ore mon majhi’to be his first hit in films. Manobendra himself composed music in a number of Bengali films including ‘Mayamrigo’(1960), ‘Badhu’(1962), ‘Jato Mat Tato Path’, ‘Joy Jayanti’, (1970), ‘Godhuli Belay’, (1965), ‘Sudur niharika’, (1978) etc.Due to Manabendra’s classical potential composers showed the courage of composing pure classical numbers in Bengali films like ‘Rajoni pohale sojoni kothay’ by Anil Bagchi in the film ‘Shashibabur Sangsar’, (1960), ‘Andhare’ by Gyan Prokash Ghosh in the film Basant Bahar,(1958).
In the 1970s also, Manabendra had sung notable songs like ‘Ei Ganga ei Padda(1970), ‘Halka megher palki’, ‘Hajar jonom dhore’, ‘Oi moushumi mon shudhu rong bodlai’, etc. In the 1980s Manabendra concentrated on Nazrul geeti and Bag bajarer gaan and there also emerged as a winner. Manabendra Mukherjee's songs in Bagbajarer gaan include the creations of late eighteenth century written by Bhola Moira, Khirod Prasad, Girish Chandra Ghosh etc, titled "Bagbajarer Sidheswarir Annopurnar Ghat","Bandhona Torikhani", “Jaigo Oi Bajae Bashi Pran Kemon Kore","Ki Diye Pujibo Bolo Ki Achhe Amar", etc. He portrayed the style of singing that used to be exhibited 100 years back at the shore of Ganges in Kolkata. The songs show the other dimension of Manobendra Mukherjee.
According to many Manabendra Mukherjee did not get the recognition he deserved which happened to a number of classical singers during the golden age.
He was married to Bela mukhopadhyay and father to Manasi Mukhopadhyay who is a renowned singer in her own rights at present
Bengali filmography as a composer
1980 DAKSHA YAGNA
1954 CHAMPADANGAR BOU
1956 DHULAR DHARANI
1971 SACHIMAR SANSAR
1966 UTTAR PURUSH
1979 JATO MAT TATO PATH
1965 PATI SANGSHODHANI SAMITI
1975 SUDUR NIHARIKA
1980 KALO CHOKHER TARA
1960 MAYA MRIGA
1955 SANJHER PRADEEP
1964 GODHULI BELA
1962 RAKTA PALASH
1964 ANUSTUP CHHANDA
1965 MUKHUJYE PARIBAR
1974 DEBI CHOUDHRANI
1976 AGUNER PHULKI
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