The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Song sung true in celeb voices

It’s 1958. The recording studio is packed to capacity. With good reason — Suchitra Sen will, for the first time, lend her voice to two songs…

Kamal Kumar Ghosh of Megaphone remembers that day vividly. “Mrs Sen (as she was known) was at the height of her career with hits like Uttar Phalguni, Deep Jele Jai, Saptapadi to her credit. Yet, when I requested her to sing two songs to help in the revival of our record company, she was more than willing. Needless to add, the crowd that turned up to hear her was more than any of the events held that year,” Ghosh recounts, sitting at the Megaphone office on Mahatma Gandhi Road.

Sen never sang for any other project — or the screen — and not many know about the couple of songs she did record. After almost four decades, Amaar Natun Ganer Nimontron and Boney Noye Aaj are back — as part of a new compilation titled Tara Jhilmil from Megaphone.

The compilation comprises songs of several former stars — Uttam Kumar, Ramola (Miss Rachel), Chhaya Devi, Kanan Devi, Ashok Kumar, Basabi Nandi, Lolita Chatterjee, Biswajit and others. Ghosh, in the 1950s and 60s, was gearing up to do for the recording industry here what Gulshan Kumar was to do decades later for Mumbai.

But what Ghosh gave Bengal nearly four decades ago is still paying dividends. Formed in 1910, Megaphone has seen the rise of Indian cinema as one of the rare recording companies to produce 78 rpm discs of film songs.

“Our family was always musically inclined. We still have a music shop on Lenin Sarani. My uncle, J.N. Ghosh, had, in the 1930s, recorded Chhaya Devi’s Bhabna Kirey from the film Rikta and Ramola’s Aaro Sore Boste from the same film. They were absolute sell-outs. We have included them in the new compilation,” says Ghosh.

Listeners will also get to hear some vintage numbers like Biswajit’s Ei Jhor Jhor Mor (1960s), Basabi Nandi’s O Amaar Noton Noton Payera (1970) and Ashok Kumar’s Anadi Kaaler Srote (recorded sometime in the 1950s).

Recollects actress Lolita Chatterjee, whose career began with the Uttam Kumar-starrer Bibhas: “I had just started my career when Kamalda requested me to record some songs for his company. After all these years, I am delighted to find one of the songs — Haye Go Byathay — in the new compilation. I feel quite nostalgic.”

Today, cine stars singing songs has hardly any novelty value but according to Ghosh, listeners those days used to wait for months for such discs to release. He adds that Uttam Kumar’s Ei Mom Jochhonaye and Suchitra’s two songs sold at least 4,000 discs which was “great” in those days. “There were orders for more copies but I had to stop production for other reasons,” says Ghosh.

Next on the Megaphone menu is a collection of old classical singers — all mothers of film actresses. “This would comprise Jaddan Bai’s (Nargis’ mother) thumris and Waheedan Bai’s (Nimmi’s mother) songs, plus others like Begum Akhtar and Mumtaz Shanti (an actress of the 50s),” he says. Also on the cards are some rare instrumentals, recorded in the 1940s and 1950s by the likes of Enayat Khan and Ali Akbar Khan.

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