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The Unforgettable Music of Hemant Kumar

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Item Code: UBC031
Author: Manek Premchand
Publisher: Blue Pencil, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9788193955536
Pages: 441 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Other Details 9.50 X 6.00 inch
Weight 520 gm

Book Description

About The Book

Hemant Kumar, what a wonderful singer, what a gifted composer! Decades after this amazing man left us, we sing his songs and enjoy his tunes, not just in Mumbai and Kolkata, but everywhere music buffs live.

The Unforgettable Music of Hemant Kumar looks in detail at specific areas of Hemant Kumar's work. Chapters include the journey of his life, from Varanasi to Calcutta to Bombay and back to Calcutta. It lists his discographies as a singer-both in Hindi and Bengali films-as also out of cinema in many languages. It identifies his songs as a composer, again in his work in many languages. The essays address his singing-in that famous baritone voice, his compositions, the classical raags that his tunes romanced with, the instruments he frequently used, the singers and lyricists that he worked with, and his Rabindra Sangeet. Featured is an interview with his son Jayanto and much more. Popular personalities like him, who have spent decades doing stellar work, often have plenty of trivia attached to them and their work. As such, we have put together a largish chapter on such trivia about Hemant Kumar.

About the Author

Manek Premchand has a diploma in Journalism and a degree in Arts from Bombay University. He has many friends in the film industry and remains fascinated by the enormous role that Hindi cinema's music has played as a key bonding medium in a country as disparate as ours.

This fascination has motivated him to write six books on the subject. These are Yesterdays' Melodies Today's Memories, Musical Moments From Hindi Films, Romancing The Song, Talat Mahmood-The Velvet Voice, Hitting The Right Notes-Hindi Cinema's Golden Music and The Hindi Film Jukebox-Exploring Unforgettable Songs. A seventh book Shiv Kumar Sharma-The Man And His Music was co-authored with two others. Besides these, he has written hundreds of music-related articles for a variety of newspapers.

He has also been a consultant with Saregama India Ltd. and a show host on many radio platforms including WorldSpace Satellite Radio. He also teaches elements of Broadcasting to post-graduate students at Xavier Institute of Communications, a part of Xavier's College, Mumbai. He is currently an adviser to Manipal University Press.


As I write this, my thoughts go to a show I attended in 1971 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chowpatty, Mumbai. The place has a special corner in my heart for that show, but also because I have been fortunate to have worked with Bhavans closely over the past decade or so, hosting dozens of musical events-including one on 100 Years of Indian Cinema-in their beautiful auditorium.

At that show decades ago, a friend and I were lucky to be sitting in the first row in the balcony, listening to some divine singing by Hemant Kumar, Sursagar Jagmohan, Talat Mahmood, and Juthika Roy. The temperature must have been nice, the lights were just right and there was no anchor ruining the day. The singers themselves were speaking about the songs they were about to render. Hemant Kumar came out first, without any fuss or introductions. He was wearing white clothes: a starched dhoti and full- sleeved shirt rolled up to expose his lower arms. A few years before then, a few of us boys used to go to the homes of many film folk, to collect autographed photos. We had gone to Hemant Kumar's home as well, and had been delighted to see his car pulling up, with him coming out of it in a similar dhoti and shirt. Such clothes can look wonderful if you can carry them off, but beyond the optics too, Hemant was stalwartly Indian, as can also be assessed by some of his music.

He welcomed everyone in the auditorium now, and then spoke very nicely about the others who were going to follow him, as also their importance in India's musical firmament. I remember thinking that you have to harmonise with someone who has such values. His voice-even when he spoke-had a certain cultural gravitas, charming us right away. And when he started singing, the evening became magical. Fifteen minutes later, his voice had seduced the audience into a sense of well-being and joy. And half an hour into the program, the vast majority of people in the auditorium were putty in his hands. Such old sepia images of my mind should have become blurry by now; instead they must have impacted me very highly to remain so megapixel clear.

Driven by thoughts of that unforgettable day, I had often wrestled with the idea of sharing my thoughts about this sensational singer and composer, especially since 1997 from which year I turned my entire focus to writing about our music and musicians. After all, as far as I knew, there was no English language book on this man and his incredible opus, which was a pity. But since I had no idea of the man's huge Bengali oeuvre, such work remained only a desire in my mind. Just how much merit would there be in a book on Hemant Kumar, if we didn't at the very least take a helicopter view of the man's Bangla work? However, from 26 September 2019, his death anniversary, it became difficult to resist the effort once it dawned upon me that his birth centenary was around the corner, on 16 June 2020. My first port of call was my Bengali friend Antara Nanda Mondal, who is a music lover, writer and publisher based in Delhi, requesting her to put together something huge and exclusive for Hemantda, as he was lovingly called. Her excited assent a couple of days later gave the idea the traction it so badly needed. Her equally learned friend Sounak Gupta from Calcutta came on board too, making the idea complete. Both are passionate music buffs, and both have been earning respect for their deep knowledge of music. Their huge chapter looks at Hemant Kumar's Bengali work, from films and outside films. This also includes a bit of the great man's Rabindra Sangeet oeuvre, about which I too have written a little in these pages.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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