Wednesday, 27 June 2012


O P Nayyar

O P Nayyar - a legend of Indian film-music was a great admirer of Pankaj Kumar Mullick and credited him for influencing him to become a music director. In the accompanying sound-clip he answers a question posed to him by Amin Sayani through which the aforementioned fact becomes clear.
O P Nayyar interview by Amin Sayani

Lata Mangeshkar

Lata Mangeshkar, the living legend of Indian film-music, had deep respect for Pankaj Kumar Mullick and this becomes evident in her remembrances as recorded in the following sound-clip.
Lata Mangeshkar remembers Pankaj Mullick


Naushad, the versatile genius of Hindi film-music, speaks of the incomparable contributions made by Pankaj Mullick to this genre. Hear it in the following sound clip.
Naushad Ali on Pankaj Mullick

Anil Biswas

Anil Biswas, another great composer, talks about Pankaj Mullick's immense contribution to the genres of both Hindi and Bengali film-music. The following sound-clip is a recording of his testament. 
Anil Biswas pays tribute to Pankaj Mullick

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pankaj Kumar Mullick and Rabindrasangeet

All those lyrics of mine that I will not get the opportunity to set tune to during my lifetime, I leave to you to embellish them with your music – Rabindranath Tagore to Pankaj Kumar Mullick (Jorasanko Thakurbari, 1937).
Rabindranath Tagore

The incident that prompted this emotional reaction in Tagore is now a part of the legend of Bengali culture:
It was during the making of the movie Mukti, in 1937 that Pankaj Kumar Mullick, the film’s music director had gone to meet Tagore to seek his permission to use the song Diner Sheshey Ghumer Deshey in the film. The lyrics for this song were by Tagore but its music was not – it was in fact composed by Mullick many years prior to the movie. He had been unofficially singing the song at various gatherings but never in public. However when it came to using it in a movie, Tagore’s permission was an absolute necessity because Tagore’s songs (popularly known as Rabindrasangeets) and his poems - then, as it is now - were sacrosanct and nobody apart from Tagore had any right whatsoever to tinker with them let alone set tune to them. Given this scenario, Mullick set up an appointment with Tagore and with great trepidation rendered the song in Tagore’s presence. Mullick had no idea how Tagore would react to such a situation and he feared the worst – that Tagore would get upset with him and forbid him to sing the song ever again let alone use it in the movie. But what unfolded was absolutely contrary to his fears. Tagore was so overwhelmed on hearing the song that he embraced Mullick and uttered the words that gave Mullick the rare distinction of being the only composer allowed by Tagore to set tunes to his lyrics. In this manner Mullick was adorned with the unofficial title of being the 'First Man of Rabindrasangeet' – an epithet he aptly justified by making it his life’s mission to popularize the songs of Tagore among the masses. He not only pioneered the use of the medium of films but also that of radio apart from stage performances to free Rabindrasangeet from the shackles of elitism and let it loose among the music loving masses of Bengal. He was also the first person to sing Rabindrasangeets in Hindi, Gujarati and Tamil in an attempt to spread the magic of Tagore’s compositions among the non-Bengali speaking audience as well. Given the scale of popularity that Rabindrasangeets have reached today it can be said without any doubt that Tagore and Pankaj Mullick were kindred spirits – one meant for the other in this vast universe of eternal music.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Short Biography

Born – 10th May, 1905
Pankaj Mullick singing live on radio
Died – 19th February, 1978

Training – 

  • Sri Durgadas Bandopadhyay for classical & light classical music
  • Sri Dinendranath Tagore (Rabindranath Tagore’s grand nephew) for Rabindrasangeet



·     He joined All India Radio (AIR), Kolkata [initially known as the Indian Broadcasting Corporation] in 1927, within a month of its inception.
·         He was an integral part of  AIR for nearly 50 years
·         At AIR he set music to the immortal ‘Mahishasuramardini’, a programme that has become a part of Bengali culture and synonymous with Durga Puja. It is heard every ‘Mahalaya’ morning even till today. It has had an uninterrupted run since its beginning in 1931.
·         He conceptualized and started the immensely popular live-music class titled – ‘Sangeet Shikshar Ashar’ which he did for a record 47 years on the trot.
·         He was part of innumerable Feature Programmes as music director & artiste during his lengthy tenure at AIR


·         He became a part of Indian cinema  right from the silent era, since 1931
·         He was a part of the star studded New Theatres Studio team for nearly 25 years
·      Luminaries like K L Saigal, S D Burman, Hemanta Mukherjee, Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle sang under his music direction as did several other prominent artistes from Bengal and the rest of the country
·         He was the first music director who introduced Rabindrasangeet successfully in films
·         He introduced interlude and interlinking music for the first time in Indian film-songs
·         At a time when movie-making was not as prolific as it is now, he sang in, composed music for and occasionally acted in close to 100 movies
·         He was a part of Indian cinema from 1931 to 1969, a period of about 38 years
·         The movies he was associated with were in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Tamil
·         He along with director Sri Nitin Bose was instrumental in the introduction of playback singing in Indian cinema


·         He recorded his first song when he was only 18 years old
·         He was the first person to popularise Rabindrasangeet by unleashing the magic of Tagore’s songs amongst the masses
·         His music career spanned an awe-inspiring 50 years  
·         He officially composed over 5,000 songs in those 50 years
·         Singers like K L Saigal, S D Burman, Hemant Kumar, Kanan Devi, Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle amongst others sung his compositions
·         His co-stars in films included K L Saigal, P C Barua  and Kanan Devi amongst others
·         He was appointed as the Honorary Advisor to the Folk Entertainment Section of the Government of West Bengal, from 1953 to 1968, by the Chief Minister of West Bengal
·         He was regarded as one of the founding fathers of Bangla Adhunik Gaan, a sub-genre of Bengali songs
·         He had several popular non-film songs in Hindi, Urdu and Bengali to his credit
·         He was the first to introduce elements of Western Music to Indian cinematic & non-cinematic songs


·         He won the National Award  for Best Music Direction in movies on quite a few occasions
·         He received the BFJA award  for his work as music director
·         He received Life Time Achievement Awards from AIR and HMV (now Saregama)


·         Title of “Surosagar” in 1931
·         Title of “Sangeet Ratnakar” in 1962
·         Padmashree in 1970
·         DADASAHEB PHALKE PURASKAR in 1972 – the highest award presented by the Government of India in the field of Indian Cinema. He was the first music-director to be honoured so.
·         Title of Rabindra Tattacharya in 1977


·         Rabindranath himself allowed him to set tune to a few of his poems, the most popular instance of which is “Diner sheshey ghumer deshey…”
·         He was invited to sing the inaugural song during the launch of television (Doordarshan) in the country
·         At the behest of Sri Sarat Bose, Netaji’s elder brother, he sang “Kadam kadam barhaye jaa…”, set to his version of the tune, with Prime Minister  J L Nehru being present during the recording. Other members of Netaji’s family too lent their voices to this record
·         On Prime Minister Nehru’s request he sang and recorded the Indian National Anthem – “Jana gana mana…” in a style that was deemed to set the parameters to be followed during the singing of the anthem by all Indians. The recording was also played nation-wide at almost every public place to familiarise every Indian citizen with the anthem of their newly formed independent country
·         In the days when ‘globalisation’ was quite unheard of, he enjoyed great fame and popularity both nationally and internationally


·         The Government of West Bengal renamed Ritchie Road as Pankaj Mullick Sarani in his honour
·         The Department of Information and Culture of the Government of West Bengal celebrated his birth centenary in 2005 with great pomp and splendour
·         The Government of India, paid tribute to his memory by issuing a commemorative postage stamp in 2006
·         The Kolkata Municipal Corporation declared his residence at Sebak Baidya Street a Heritage Site in 2007
·         The Kolkata Municipal Corporation supported the erection of a statue in his honour at Maddox Square Park on Pankaj Mullick Sarani in 2010 

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Pankaj Kumar Mullick
(May 10, 1905 to February 19, 1978)
Pankaj Kumar Mullick (a.k.a Pankaj Mullick) is a name that has become synonymous with the history of Indian Music. He was multifaceted genius who was a singer, music-composer, actor, educator and administrator all rolled-into-one. In a career that spanned almost fifty years, he had many firsts to his credit. Some of these are:

  • He was the first person to popularise Rabindrasangeets (songs composed my Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore) among the masses.
  • He was first music director under whom play-back was introduced in Indian films.
  • He was the first music director who brought in elements of Western music in Indian film music.
  • He was the first music director to be awarded the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award by the Government of India for his pioneering activities in the arena of Hindi and Bengal film music.
This Blog among other things, will highlight his achievements, analyse his works, collate information about his contributions and pay tribute to his genius.