Eminent Folk singer Utpalendu dies at 62!

Eminent folk singer Utpalendu Chowdhury died following prolonged illness at a medical facility here on Monday. He was 62.
Son of legendary folk-singer Nirmalendu Chowdhury (who hailed from Hobiganj / Sumanganj, Syllhet, now in Bangladesh also happens to be my maternal folks place, and Nirmalendu Jethu was their neighbor),Utpaledu was suffering from cancer.
After his father’s death, Utpalendu had carried the splendours preserved by the teacher-to-disciple PARAMPARA.
With a single-minded purpose he looked forward to popularising the folk songs that he inherited from his father.Utpalendu, who used to pour out his emotions and his deep personal feelings through his songs, mesmerized audience all over.
His cultural mission took him to the USA, the UK, France, Germany, USSR, UAE, Qatar, Japan, Canada, Yugoslavia, Romania, Finland and other places.
The popularity earned by Utpalendu, led him to the conviction that he might continue to serve as a reliable link between the traditional culture of Bengal and the lovers of culture all over the world.
One of the most popular folk singers of the present genre, he gathered his repertoire under the guidance of his father Late Nirmalendu Chowdhury.He looked forward to popularizing folk songs that he inherited from his father and the rivers of Bengal.

Utpalendu, who poured out his emotions and his deep personal feelings through his songs, is silent now that the most unavoidable final curtain of all; DEATH has snatched him away quite suddenly.

Writing this obituary I fondly remember Runu-da (as we used to call Utpalendu Chowdhury) in two very light-veined incidents which happened quite a few years ago; once in Bilaspur on the occasion of the Cultural program organised by the Central Railway's some sort of Bengali Club there, where we sort of had a community picnic lunch on the day of our performance and still remember Utpalendu Chowdhury serving plateful of rice and vegetables to all the all the musicians, Banasree-di and me.We had been to visit "Amarkantak" the origin of river Narmada driving throught the dense "Achankomar Wildlife Sanctuary", a 4 to 5 hour drive from Bilaspur. What a lovely time that was! We came back to Bilaspur Railway Station directly at about 8 pm from there to catch the midnight train to Kolkata.

The second incident was in Bankura on the third day of the "YUBA Utsab" organised by the Govt. of West Bengal in the winter of 1998, as far as I remember. Srikumar da's (son of Late Ramkumar Chatterjee) usual pranks and Runu-da's reaction to them in his most inimitable manner will come back repeatedly whenever I will chance upon hearing his hard yet effective folk voice, and his ever smiling face looking up at us from the stage, singing "Sohag Chaand Bodoni Dhoni ancho to dekhi..."!!!

Among Runu da's (Utpalendu Chowdhury) popular and traditional renditions were:
Sohag Chand Bodoni dhoni nachoto dekhi...
Uthali Pathali amaar buk...
Bhalo Kaira bajao go dotara...
Shadher Lau banailo lorey bairagi...
Kandhe Ailo Baan...
Mono hoila...


written by: nilanjan.nandy@gmail.com