Vol. 5 Num 342 Sun. May 15, 2005  

Utpala Sen: The golden voice of yesteryears
Utpala Sen, known for her unique melancholic voice, is not among us any more. The Bangalee songstress passed away at the SSKM Hospital, Kolkata on May 13. She had been suffering from cancer for the last five years.

Hundreds of her fans, including renowned singers Shibaji Chattopadhyay, Utpalendu Chowdhury, Usha Uthup and Nirmala Mishra, thronged the Rabindra Sadan premises, where her body was taken, on May 13 afternoon, to pay their last tributes to her.

Born on March 12, 1924 in Dhaka, Utpala first sang for the Dhaka radio in 1935. Her formal training began under the guidance of her mother, Hiranbala Debi, and the musical maestro Ustad Gul Mohammad Khan. Her voice was recorded for playback singing in 1939 and she had been associated with the All India Radio since 1940. After the demise of her first husband Benu Sen, she married fellow singer, Satinath Mukhopadhyay in 1968.

Her breakthrough performance was Ek hathe more pujar thala, but fame came with the song, Shanti Dile Bhori in Mahishasur Mardini, which is a hit with the audience to this date. Her presence in celluloid music was first felt with songs in My Sister (1944) and Anjan Garh (1947). She is specially remembered for her songs like Pakhi aaj kon shure gaaye, Bhaggyer chaka ta to ghurchhe and Jhikmik jonakir dip jale shiore. Her numerous duets with Satinath Mukhopadhyay, Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, Talat Mahmud, Manabendra Mukhopadhyay and Pankaj Kumar Mullick, were hugely popular.

Utpala's unforgettable songs from the "Golden Era" of Bangla music will always be treasured by her aficionados in both Bangladesh and West Bengal for years to come.

Compiled by Cultural Correspondent