She excels in showmanship and performs all songs -- classical or popular -- with equal panache. She may be living away from the country, but the gifted Mitali Mukherjee remains in the hearts of her admirers through her timeless songs and occasional performances here.
Mitali teamed up with famous singers and music directors of the subcontinent for several of her studio albums. She has many awards and accolades to her credit, including a National Award (in 1981) for the song “Ei duniya ekhon to aar shei duniya nai” from the movie “Dui Poishar Alta.” The song took the music industry by storm; misty-eyed listeners continue to hum along.
Her first album, “Saahil” (released by HMV), became a gold disc. Subsequently, Mitali and renowned Indian artiste Bhupinder Singh joined forces in many albums. For her latest album, “Chand Parosa Hai,” she has collaborated with Oscar winning lyricist Gulzar. Mitali has sung in several languages, including Punjabi, Gujarati and Tamil. She received a triple disc for a song (from the Tamil blockbuster, “Dalpati”) composed by renowned South Indian music director Iliya Raja.
The sixth child of Amulya Kumar Mukherjee and Kalyani Mukherjee, Mitali was born in Mymensingh. Reminiscing on her childhood, the diva says, “I grew up in a culturally-oriented family. My elder brother was a professional tabla player. One of my sisters was a Kathak dancer and another sister was a very good singer. We are fortunate to have such great parents, who instilled in us a great love for music.”
Mitali began her formal training in classical music at a tender age. Her parents were well versed in classical and Nazrul Sangeet and persuaded her to groom her voice. According to Mitali, “We were very involved with the Mukul Fauj. In fact, my first appearance on TV was as a member of Mukul Fauj. I rendered a Nazrul Sangeet; I was only six-years-old.”
Mitali received a scholarship from the Indian Government when she was a college student. The scholarship was for the study of music at the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, in Gujarat. She sailed through her bachelor's with a gold medal. She went on to complete her master's as well. Meanwhile, during her holidays in Bangladesh, she used to perform on Bangladesh Television and Radio. Smilingly Mitali says, “Those songs turned out to be chart toppers and till date are sung with much fervour.”
Mitali tied the knot with ghazal singer Bhupinder Singh in 1983 and settled down in Mumbai. Talking about her ties with her homeland, she says, “I have a deep connection with my country. Whenever I come to visit Bangladesh I don't feel like leaving. The enthusiasm and love with which I am received here is simply amazing. Wherever or whenever I perform, I always start with a Nazrul Sangeet.”
Discussing the difference between Bangladesh and India, she asserts, “This country has many talented artistes but they need greater exposure. We require high quality academies with excellent classical teachers who can guide and train aspiring artistes. Adequate support from the government and the corporate sectors can also play a great part. It is imperative that we provide an international platform to young talents so that they can perform globally.”
Mitali has managed to take our culture beyond the borders; her serene voice and poignant performances continue to stir the hearts of many a fan.
The writer is a freelance contributor