my first break SUMAN KALYANPUR
AS TOLD TO RANJAN DAS GUPTA
How it happened
During my childhood days at Bangladesh, I was deeply influenced by the singing of R.C. Boral, K.C. Dey, K.L. Saigal and Kanan Devi. The Bengali songs of S.D. Burman had a special place in my heart and I longed to sing for his music direction. Kanan Devi also fascinated me greatly as a singer. The highly gifted Talat Mehmood heard me sing at a music concert and agreed to render a duet with me. As I sang for the film “Darwaza”, I was thrilled to sing with a singer who was blessed with the best of aesthetics and melody. Talat Mehmood gave a divine effect to the song with his silk voice and I tried my best to match him. He was very pleased with my rendering and predicted a bright future for me.
How did it feel
My joy knew no bounds when S.D. Burman wielded the baton as I sang “Chhodo Chhodo Mohe Baiyan” for “Mia Biwi Razi”. The song was an instant hit and I received due recognition as well as praise for my singing. My real first break as a singer was with “Na Tum Humein Jano” which was also tuned by S.D. Burman. The male version was already rendered majestically by Hemant Kumar and I had to sing the female version.
I was really thrilled as S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman explained to me each notation in detail and inspired me to deliver my best. When I started singing, Dada Burman wielded his baton just like the motion of sombre sea waves and I was not even conscious as to how I was singing. After the recording there was loud applause from everyone on the floors and R.D. Burman complimented me by saying that my singing was perfect as I was not at all self conscious. Similar views were expressed by S.D. Burman who spoke very less.
How life changed
Many thought Lata Mangeshkar rendered, “Na Tum Humein Jano”. They were all pleasantly surprised when they discovered the truth. Salil Chowdhury, Shanker-Jaikishen and Madan Mohan showered me with encomiums for my singing. Hemant Kumar composed the music for a number I rendered with the nightingale, Lata Mangeshkar. I was very nervous initially to sing with the greatest female voice of India. It was the elderly Hemant Kumar who took me into confidence and gave equal preference to both of us in his inimitable style playing with simple melodies effortlessly. His advice to me was to stick to my originality, not follow Lata Mangeshkar and never to raise my vocal pitch above a certain limit. I did receive compliments from Lata Mangeshkar for singing with her. He was responsible for introducing me to Bengali songs. Music directors like Nachiketa Ghosh and Sudhin Das Gupta were then ruling the roost in Bengal and they also exploited my singing abilities to the hilt. My memorable Bengali numbers include “Mone Koro” and “Dure Theko Na”.
I had real tears in my eyes as I rendered “Amar Sapno Dekhar Duti Nayan”. This song reflects the philosophy of my life to a large extent and I was very pleased to hear that Bengal’s icon, Sandhya Mukherjee found me to be very talented hearing this number.
I will be ungrateful if I do not make a mention of Shanker-Jaikishen. Along with the large number of super hit duets I rendered for them, I consider “Chale Ja Jahan Pyar Mile” my personal favourite in which Jaikishen literally created symphonies which I had to render with a flowing effect of a stream.
By then Shanker and Jaikishen were composing separately but that never hampered any of their creativities. Jaikishen conducted like a true prince with music fully in his command and creating eternal effects with his singers inspiring them just with his looks whilst composing.
AS TOLD TO RANJAN DAS GUPTA