RMIM Archive Article "211".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Hemant Kumar
# Posted by: Satish Subramanian (email@example.com)
# Author: Satish Subramanian (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
"Can't decide if he impressed me more as a good singer, or
better as a music director or by just being a good human,"
wondered Kaifi Azmi when asked to describe Hemant Kumar.
"Maybe a combination of all three aspects is what made
Hemant, Hemant," he later added.
Hemant Kumar was born in Varanasi and later moved to Calcut-
ta. He started his singing career (on radio) in the late 30s.
His first recorded Bengali (non-film) album was in 1937.
His first song as a singer in movies was in a Bengali film
film, "Nimai Sanyasi" released in 1940. He started singing
in Hindi films in 1944.
Surjit Singh, in his series, wrote about Hemant's first few
sang his first songs for a hindii movie in 1944 for MD
Amarnaath in the movie Iraadaa, produced by Indrapurii
Studios, Calcutta. He sang two solos,"phir muhabbat ke
pyaam aane lage", and, "aaraam se jo raate.n kaaTe.n vo
ashq bahaanaa kyaa jaane.n" written by Aziiz Kaash-
miirii, and a duet with Raadhaaraanii,"nit nit ke
ruuThane vaale saajan, tum diip bano".
Hemant was a great fan of Pankaj Mullick, and he was his
idol. Bela Mukherjee (Hemant's wife) commented that Hemant
was so fond of Pankaj Mullick's singing that he used to
stand outside Mullick's house in Calcutta just to listen to
Pankaj Mullick sing.
The other major influences on his music were from the Ben-
gali folk, and Rabindra Sangeet.
His first movie as a music director in Bengali was in the
year 1947. He was introduced as a music director in Hindi
films by director Hemen Gupta in the film "Anand Math" (Fil-
mistan, 1952), which had tunes for traditional songs, like
"jai jagdeesha hare" (Geet Gobind), and the patriotic song
"vande maataram sujalam suphalam" (Bankim Chandra Chatter-
The patriotic tunes continued in "Jagriti", with "de di ha-
men aazaadi binaa khaDg binaa Dhaal", (which was an adapta-
tion of the Noorjehan-Naushad hit "kya mil gaya bhagwan
tumhein dil ko dukha ke"), and "ham laae hain toofaan se
kashti nikaal ke" (Rafi) and "aao bachchon tumhe dikhaae.n
jhaaNki hindustaan ki" (Pradeep).
Vish Krishnan when talking about Hemant's earlier accom-
plishments and his connection with Hemen Gupta, wrote:
In the late '40s, after doing his first 2 solo MD
assignments for the movies PURBARAAG and ABHIYAATRI, he
just happened to meet the liberal IPTA crowd. The
Indian People's Theatres association attracted only the
Director Hemen Gupta made 3 IPTA movies in the late
'40s or early '50s period starting with BHULI NAI, and
going on with "1942" (a Bengal famine story), and then
the Bankim Chandra adaptation ANAND MATH. All 3 movies
are credited to Hemanta.
Before a series of movies at Filmistan (Anandmath, Jagriti,
Nagin, Samrat, Shart) which launched his career as music
director in Hindi films, he had already given music for
quite a few films in Bengali.
Hemant, as a music director, made it big in Hindi films with
his huge hit "Nagin". This was the movie that introduced
electronic synthesized music in films. As most people know,
the famous "been" music before the song "tan dole mera man
dole" was synthesized and is credits to Hemant's assistants
Kalyanji and Ravi. (It is a completely different matter that
the lyrics refer to a "bansuri" and not a "been". This also
happened in another of Hemant's movies "Kohra", in the song
"kahe bajaya tu ne paapi bansuriya" by Asha and Mahendra
Coming to his singing and various singers, Salil is supposed
to have said that "If God were to sing, he would do so in
Hemant's voice." For Lata, Hemant's voice always reminded
her of a sadhu/saint. It is probably this awe/reverence that
reflects in her voice when she sang with Hemant. It is as if
there is a student-guru relationship, with Hemant sounding
majestic, and Lata seemingly a step behind Hemant. This was
not just in the songs where Hemant was the music director,
but in general in most of their duets, like, "Chandan ka
palna resham ki Dori" (Naushad), "Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag"
(C.Ramchandra), "Chhuppa lo yun dil mein pyaar mera"
(Roshan), "Nain so nain naahi milaao" (Vasant Desai), "Yaad
kiya dil ne kahaan ho tum" (SJ), "Neend na mujhko aaye"
(Kalyanji). The Hemant-Lata duets rank right next to Asha-
Rafi duets for me.
Lata has been the predominant female voice in Hemant's
films. The other female singers who have had their share of
good songs with him were Geeta Dutt ("piya aiso joya mein
samai gayo re", "na jaao saiyaan chudaake baiyaan", "na ye
chaand hoga") and Asha ("bheegi bheegi fazaa sun sun",
"bhanvra baDa nadaan hain"). Geeta probably has an edge in
the duets section.
His daughter Ranu Mukherjee sang for him her first song
"naani teri morni ko mor le gayi, baaki jo bachata kaale
chor le gaya". According to Ranu she got to sing this song
quite by accident. One day when Ranu was playing outside
their house, Hemant and Shailendra (both were neighbours)
called her and asked her to sing a song that they had just
made. As the song's recording was urgent, they made her
rehearse the song in the car as they drove down to the stu-
dio! Apparently, it is still one of her favourite songs.
While Hemant sang most of his songs himself, he did give
some nice compositions for some of his contemporary male
singers. Rafi was used on and off is many of his movies
(Jagriti, Miss Mary, Do Dil etc).
For Talat, Hemant created some wonderful tunes in the movie
"Bahu". The Talat-Geeta duets "thandi hawaon mein tere hi
baahon mein", and "dekho dekhoji balam aise birha ka gham
mera nanha sa jiya tadpana na" surely rank high in the list
of popular songs of Talat.
He gave Kishore the opportunity to sing the sensitive roman-
tic duet "aaj mujhe kuchh kahana hai" (Sahir; Kishore with
Sudha Malhotra) in the movie "Girl Friend". In "Miss Mary",
Kishore had one of his craziest songs that others can only
dream of singing - "gaana na aaya, bajaana na aaya, dilbar
ko apna banana na aaya". Then with Gulzar, he gave Kishore
the evergreen songs "havaaon pe likh do havaaon ke naam, ham
anjaan pardesiyon ka salaam" (Do Dooni Char) and "vo shaam
kuchh ajeeb thi ye shaam bhi ajeeb hai" (Khamoshi).
The three Ms - Mukesh, Manna Dey, Mahendra Kapoor - are
almost nonexistent in Hemant's films. Mahendra Kapoor made
an appearance in "Kohra". Mukesh did sing for him later on
in "Us Raat Ke Baad", but nothing much other than that?
Don't know much about Hemant's earlier or not-easily-
available creations to comment more.
He has worked with almost all the top lyricists of his time.
Some of them are Rajinder Krishan (Nagin), S. H. Bihari
(Shart), Kaifi Azmi (Kohra), Shakeel Badayuni (Sahib Biwi
aur Ghulam), Shailendra (Chand), Gulzar (Khamoshi), Majrooh
Sultanpuri (Ek Hi Raasta), Sahir Ludhianvi (Girl Friend),
Pradeep (Jagriti), and Prem Dhawan (Maa Beta). Even though
some of these associations were limited to a single movie,
they were nevertheless memorable. Kaifi Azmi, who has had a
better share of movies with Hemant, said that Hemant's tunes
always did justice to his lyrics. A sentiment which prob-
ably is shared by all the other lyricists too.
He didn't fade out like some MDs after the Golden Era, he
just opted to leave Hindi films in the early 70s. Moushmi
Chatterjee (Hemant's daughter-in-law, and whose first film
"Ballika Bodhu" in Bengali had music by Hemant), who was
very close to Hemant, said her only regret was that he left
Bombay when had so much more to offer. Listening to some of
his last few songs in Hindi films, one has to agree with
her. Hemant Kumar was as endearing in "tum pukaar lo" as he
was in "ye raat ye chandni phir kahaan", and the pathos in
"ya dil ki suno duniya waalon" was no less than the one seen
in "jaane wo kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila."
According to Moushmi during the making of "Khamoshi" he was
not very comfortable and was beginning to get very lonely.
She considers the song "ya dil ki suno duniya waalon" (Kaifi
Azmi; "Anupama") as accurately describing the mood of Hemant
at that time.
ya dil ki suno duniya waalon, ya mujhko abhi chhup rahne do
main gam ko khushi kaise kehdun jo kehte hain unhe kehne do
kya dard kisika lega koi, itna to kisi me dard nahin
behte hue aasun aur bahen, ab aisi tassali rehne do
He along with S.D.Burman and Salil Choudhury are the three
MDs who are often quoted as the trio who migrated to Bombay
from Bengal and made it big (and also blamed for neglecting
Bengali film music). While S.D.Burman flourished till the
very end in Hindi films, Salil went on to find new pastures
in South. But Hemant returned to Calcutta and continued to
gave music in Bengali films. He did come back to Hindi
films in the late 70s to give music to a couple of Moushmi
Chatterjee starrers ("Love in Canada" and "Do Ladke Donon
He left us around 5 or 6 years ago. Last credited for the
title song of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's tele-serial "Talaash"
(Moushmi Chatterjee, Alok Nath). The song, sung by Suresh
Wadkar, "jeevan ik talaash hai", had the same tune as "tum
pukaar lo" from "Khamoshi".