indian cinema heritage foundation

Bela Mukherjee

  • Born: 29 /05/1928 (Murshidabad, West Bengal)
  • Died: 25/06/2009 (Kolkata)
  • Primary Cinema: Bengali
  • Spouse: Hemant Kumar
  • Children: Ranu Mukherjee , Jayant Mukherjee

Bela Mukherjee was born on 29 May 1928 in Berhampore in Murshidabad, West Bengal. While pursuing her high school education in Kolkata, she underwent classical music training under the tutelage of Kamal Dasgupta. 

Abha Mukherjee, Bela’s younger sister was working with New Theatres as a child singer. On one occasion, she mentioned about her sister’s musical talents to music composer Pankaj Mullick. Mullick gave Bela the opportunity to sing in three duets with Asit Baran in Kashinath (1943). Their song, O ban me panchi was well received by the audience. 
Recognising her talent, Khemchand Prakash gave her the opportunity to move to Bombay and sing for the film Shri Krishnarjun Yuddha (Mohan Sinha, 1945). Hemant Kumar, the music director-singer was her teacher and at the age of 17, they tied the knot in 1945. 

After marriage, she focused on raising a family but she did collaborate with her husband on numerous occasions. Some of their popular duets are De de pet ko roti, tan ko kapra (Maldar, 1951), Dulha ram siya dulhiri (Bandhan, 1956), Bade bade toofano ke (Fashion, 1957) and Hum dukhra sehne wali (Sahara, 1958).  Apart from film songs, they also worked on some non-film songs such as Agar garaj ke kah saktaa hai, desh humaraa hindustaan which was also voiced by Samaresh Roy alongside the couple. She sang Door door se kyajata tum paas along with Ravi in the film Bahu (1955)..

She was also integral in managing Geetanjali Pictures alongside her husband. The production house made around 11 films. The last production, Love in Canada (1979), they moved to Kolkata. Other than Hindi films, she had long innings as an assistant music director in Bengali cinema working in several successful films like Nayika Sangbad (1967), Panchashar (1968), Nimantran (1971), Sriman Prithviraj (1973), Fuleswari (1974), Thagini (1974), Ganadevata (1979), Dadar Kirti (1980),Shahar Theke Dooray (1981), Bhalobasa Bhalobasa (1985) and  Agaman (1988).

R C Boral once wished to cast Bela Mukherjee as a heroine in one of his films, but due to her family’s opposition, that never happened. She and Hemant Kumar had two children Ranu Mukherjee who continued her parents’ legacy as singer and Jayant Mukherjee, who is married to actress Moushumi Chatterjee. She passed away on 25 June 2009 after a prolonged illness. 


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