Kamala Dasgupta

Written by Lakshmi Priya
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His full name was Kamala Prasanna Dasgupta. His parents were from the village Kalia of Jessore district,although it was in Cooch Behar , when the family had moved there, Kamal Dasgupta was born on 28th of July in the year 1912. His schooling started in Cooch Behar and he graduated as an engineer from the Bengal Engineering College in Shibpur.His parents Taraprasanna Dasgupta and Kaminiranjan Dasgupta . Both were well trained in classical music and hence a musical environment existed at home. Kamal Dasgupta often told that because of the disciplined training in music at home five/six out of the ten brothers and sisters could record songs at HMV at very early ages, and three brothers excelled as music directors, including his eldest brother Bimal Das Gupta and his younger brother Shubal Das Gupta, who composed many memorable songs. The two brothers Kamal and Shubal would sing kawali in the radio as Chand-Suraj Kawals....

Composer Kamala Dasgupta

Kamal Das Gupta had his first formal training in music from his elder brother. Then he devoted three/four years for learning and practicing mainly Sargam in the company of the famous singer Sri Krishna Chandra Dey, who was blind. But, it was the renowned Ustad Zamiruddin Khan who was Kamal Das Gupta's true Guru. Early Days,at the age of only eighteen, he joined His Master'sVoice (HMV) as a music director. It did not take time for the Ustadji to notice the extraordinary talents of this young man who had already mastered the basics. Kamal Das Gupta learned all he could
from the Thumri king Ustad Zamiruddin Khan, and like an expert craftsman brought out the deepest secrets of Sur to compose his immortal tunes. His composition was first released as a record in 1932 in the voice of Satyaboti.

 

 

Kamal Das Gupta has many songs to his credit, of which 400 are Nazrul Sangeet, and the rest are based on various styles such as Geet and Meera Bhajan; Kabir Bhajan in Hindi; Urdu Naat; Thumri and Ghazals. His repute is incomparable.His Raaga based songs were truly wonderful.
After the second World War, around the mid-1940s, one would find expressions of rebellion and protest in some of his songs. An unique blend of romance and revolution are found in these ever popular songs Prithibi Amaré Chaé; Jegé Aachhi Eka Jegé Aachi Karagaré; Ami Duronto Baishakhi Jhor; Jaader Jiban Bhora Shudhu aakhijol; Shotek Borosho
Poré. All of these songs have resonated for years throughout Bengal.
Kamal Das Gupta is recognised as the fore most composer of Nazrul songs. He had worked closely with Kavi Nazrul for long eleven years from 1934 to 1945. It is indeed an important chapter in the history of Bengali culture.The two spent many busy mornings, tired afternoons, vibrant evenings and late nights in the company of each other. A typical day in the lives of these two great men those days was, as narrated by Kamal Dasgupta himself is as follows - "A lot of hard work was put in by the two of us each day. At 8 in the morning Kazi Da would start writing lyrics and melody in the HMV rehearsal room for the first artistes to come. Some lyrics he would pass on to me to tune, while I would be busy making other songs. By 9 AM the first group of singers would arrive for their training. One hour was allotted for them. The second group of singers would then come for their training and so on until 3 PM. We had no break up to that time. After 3, we would start preparing songs for the next day, which would end at 6 PM. This afternoon session was between just the two of us. Sometimes I would be in his room, sometimes he would be in mine. Kazi Da would leave at 6
PM. Kazi Da and I have spent years and years without having a day-time meal. Often, food were arranged to be brought from home, but it would remain untouched. There was no time."

A vast expanse of Kamal Das Gupta's glorious career covered films. He made music for more than forty films during the period 1936 to 1967. Those were in Bangla, Hindi, Tamil, and English documentaries. Kamal Das Gupta's first film was Pandit Moshai (1936) and the last one was Bodhubaran (1967). He will always be remembered for his songs in such movies as Gormil, Shesh Uttar, Jogajog, Gobindodas, Bhagaban Sri Krishna Choitanyo, Meghdoot (Hindi).

Kamal Das Gupta met Narzrul Firoza Begum as early as in the 1930s. Feroza Begum's incredible talent took her beyond the boundaries of Faridpur district to Kolkata at an early age. It was her strong desire to learn music that brought her in contact with Kamal Das Gupta. They tied the knot of marriage in 1956. Kamal Das Gupta took special care in training
Feroza Begum realising her potential to become a great artiste. For correct manifestation and for exposing Nazrul's songs to the wider
world, the Kamal-Feroza pair's contribution is simply unassailable.

His family had moved to Dhaka from Kolkata in 1967. But the small horizon of Dhaka's music and the government of the time made the giant feel caged. After the independence of Bangladesh, he was given the citizenship of Bangladesh and was later offered the position of Chief Music Director of the Transcription Service of Bangladesh Betar. He had lamented that six years of inactivity had done him a lot of harm and they should take from him whatever they could. He had planned to develop an orchestra, a concert hall and teach training methods, short hand notation and several other projects for the Transcription Service.

He had a strong personality, but he was polite. He was generous, he felt for the poor. During the famine of 1950 in Kolkata, he fed a hundred people everyday for months. He owned an American built gorgeous Buick car in those days in Kolkata.
He was a big follower of Cricket, perhaps the reason why his three sons Shafin, Tahsin & Hamin have always been keen on Cricket. HIs sons Tahsin and Hamin actually played top level Cricket, and Hamin had made it to the Bangladesh National Team. Memories of winter mornings on roof top,listening to Cricket commentary together on the radio, coming from far away Australia or England are all so vividly & fondly remembered by his sons. His wife bought a guitar for the children , which Hamin and Shafin were one day trying to play. On hearing from the next room, Kamal Dasgupta told his sons how to first tune the six strings of the guitar on EADGBE, and how if they knew where Sâ was, they could tune the rest of the strings.

The gloriously successful Kamal Dasgupta passed away on the 20th of July 1974 at the P.G. Hospital in Dhaka. He had invested/saved most of his savings in a Bank in Calcutta and he lost all of it when the Bank went bankrupt. His brain
was affected by the shock. Singer Talat Mahmood and some other singers had tried to help Kamal-da but he never recovered fully from the shock. There were also whispers that Feroza Begum did not treat him particularly well in his final years.
His finest years were 1941-1955 and they mark him as one of our very greatest composers.The last Nazrul song Kamal Dasgupta had tuned was appropriately written:
Khela Shesh Holo
Shesh Hoy Nai Bela....

 

 

You can enjoy some of his lovely songs in the youtube playlist below in which you can hear him singing too :-

 

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