The last of the singers from Bengal’s golden era of modern music Sandhya Mukhopadhyay died here on Tuesday, according to Anandabazar.com. She was 90.
She had been unwell and suffering from breathing difficulties since January 26, reports Anandabazar.com, quoting hospital sources. Mukhopadhyay was shifted to SSKM Hospital the next day after the city administration put in place a green corridor.
She was admitted to the hospital’s Woodburn ward and a medical board was set up to supervise her treatment. Apart from her lung ailment, she had suffered a fall in the washroom, the sources added. The singer had tested positive for Covid-19 and suffered multi-organ dysfunction and fracture in the neck of femur (left side) due to the fall, for which she was being treated.
She is survived by her daughter and son in law.
Mukhopadhyay had recently rejected a Padma award that the Centre said it wished to confer on her.
She was the last surviving singer of the golden era of modern Bengali music. Stalwarts such as Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, Manna Dey, Shyamal Mitra and Manabendra Bondopadhyay have all passed away.
Her death was condoled by a host of luminaries including West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pays her tribute to the fallen artist tweeting, "Deeply saddened that Geetashree Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, the queen of melody in Bengal, is no more. Her departure creates an eternal void in our world of music and in the hearts of millions of her followers here and in the diaspora."
Mourning Mukherjee's death, Mamata Banerjee, who had a close relationship with the singer, said she would curtail a three-day tour to the northern districts of the state which had embarked on and would return to the city to attend her last rites.
Banerjee said that the singer's body would be kept at the `Rabindra Sadan' from noon to 5PM for her admirers to pay their last respect.
"Sandhyadi's last rites will be conducted with full state honours which include a gun salute. Her body will be kept at the `peace heaven' (mortuary) tonight and I am trying to be back in the city by tomorrow after which the last rites will be conducted," Banerjee said.
From across the border, Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mourned Mukherjee's death and in a message said "Geetshri' (Distinguished Musician) Sandhya Mukherjee not only spread `Ganer Mugdhta' (musical magic) throughout the sub-continent, her role in Bangladesh's freedom struggle will never be forgotten."
Virtually every Bengali language television and radio station in both India and Bangladesh started playing her songs and clips of movie where she has sung as a memorial to the singing legend who was popular in both countries, as soon as news of her death spread.
Born in 1931 in Kolkata, Mukherjee's death comes just days after the passing away of Lata Mangeshkar earlier this month.
"I used to look upto her as my elder sister and this is a grave personal loss to me. She used to be the moving spirit in our Sangeet Akademi and we had conferred upon her Bangabibhushan( 2011), Sangeet Mahasamman ( 2012) etc." tweeted Banerjee.
Condoling her death, Hindustani classical maestro Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty said, "It was a personal loss for me. She was a mother figure for all of us. I still can't believe she is no more."
Yesteryears Tollywood star Madhabi Mukherjee, for whose movies Sandhya Mukherjee had sung several musical numbers, also described her as an elder sister to the juniors of her era.
"I shared a special bond with her. She was at times like an elder sister, and at the time, she was like a mother to me. I still remember the period we worked together," she said.
Singer Usha Uthup said the love, affection and support she had received from her would be some of the most cherished moments of her life.
"She was such a motherly figure to all of us. The kind of affection I received from her would be the most cherished moments of my life," she said.
Member of Parliament (RS) Dr. Santanu Sen tweeted, "Deeply mourned by the sad demise of the legendary figure of the arena of music #sandhyamukherjee . May her soul rest in peace.Would have been better,had she not been insulted by @BJP4India Govt at her fag end of life. She will live in our heart forever."
In the late forties, she started learning music from Santosh Kumar Basu, A T Kannan and Chinmoy Lahiri; however, she began her formal training under Patiala Gharana under legendary Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Under his tutelage, she mastered the art of Indian classical music.
She began her career as a playback singer in the early fifties but returned to Kolkata in the late 1950s due to personal reasons.
Cutting across borders, for millions of Bengalis across the globe, Mukherjee had become the musical voice of an era of romance, where Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen ruled the matinee lights.
Bengali film and TV producer Raj chakrabarty tweeted, "Legend Sandhya Mukherjee's demise has brought upon a dark day on Bengal. She'll forever be treasured in the hearts of her admirers. May her soul rest in peace."
Actor Saayoni Ghosh posted a lively music video of the ledgendary artist and tweeted saying, "Rest in Music #sandhyamukherjee"
Mukherjee played a role in the Bangladesh liberation war joining many leading artists who performed free concerts to raise money for the 10 million East Pakistan citizens who were forced to seek refuge in India.
She also sand for the `Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra' (Free Bangladesh Radio) in Kolkata, set up by the Government of Bangladesh in exile.
When Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, returned to Bangladesh in 1972, he was greeted by a song sung by Mukherjee which was played on Swadhin Bangla Betar.
Mukhopadhyay has sung for numerous Bengali movies and for several Hindi films and has worked with leading music directors, including S.D.Burman, Madan Mohan, Naushad, Anil Biswas and Salil Chaudhury.
Rajya Sabha MP of Trinamool Congress Jawhar Sircar tweeted, "Senior-most Bengali singer Sandhya Mukherjee leaves us. She had received National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 1970, and felt humiliated when Modi regime offered her a Padma Shri a fortnight ago — at 90 years. Bengal was humiliated too."