When Kalyanji Anandji were composing the song Na na karte pyar tumhi se kar baithe, they perhaps never thought it would become as popular as it eventually did. The upbeat structure of the song from Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965), which incorporated a unique theka on the dholak, was markedly different from the intricate, raga-based songs that had been heard in the last two decades. Lata Mangeshkar, many people thought, had woven her magic once again.
So in the late ’80s, when Doordarshan, in its famous show, Chhaya Geet, attributed the song to singers Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi, no one batted an eyelid, except a 20-year-old girl named Charul. She called up the Prasar Bharati office and requested them to ratify the error. The female singer was her mother Suman Kalyanpur.
Aaj kal tere mere pyaar ke charche (Bramhachari, 1969), one of Kalyanpur’s well-known duets with Rafi, met the same fate. Even the records sometimes gave the wrong name. In the 1950s and ’60s, the music industry moved to a different beat and the period was later referred as the golden era of Hindi film music. This was also the time when female playback singing was dominated by the Mangeshkar sisters, more Lata than Asha (Bhosle). Suman naturally sounded like Lata. She was diligent, sharp and had a lovely voice. So when Lata was unavailable, or if the producers could not afford her rate of Rs 100 per song, or if the song suffered because of her refusal to sing with Rafi over royalty issues, Suman, the poor man’s Lata, was called in. She was a great substitute.
She came into limelight with Chhodo chhodo mori baiyaan (Miya Bibi Raazi, 1960), Na tum humein jaano (Baat Ek Raat Ki, 1962), Mere sang ga (Janwar, 1965), Aajhuna aaye baalma (Saanjh aur Savera, 1963), Tumne pukaara aur hum chale aaye (Rajkumar, 1964) and several others. Her last popular song was Behna ne bhai ki kalai pe (Resham Ki Dori, 1974).
Her popular Bengali songs include, Mone karo Ami nei, Aamar swapno dekhar duti nayan, Aakash ajana tobu, Payer chinho niye etc.She bowed out of the industry in 1986. She sang for almost 100 films with some of the finest composers, including Naushad, Shankar-Jaikishan and Laxmikant Pyarelal. Her final song, which was for Love 86, Govinda’s debut film, was never released. Suman Kalyanpur turns 84 today.
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