Celebrated Bengali singer-actress Ruma Guha Thakurta died of old age at her home in Kolkata on Monday, sources said. She was 84.
Founder of the Calcutta Youth Choir (CYC), which played a major role in popularising ‘gana sangeet’ or mass songs in Bengal, she showcased her talent in a number of Hindi and Bengali movies working with celebrated directors such as Satyajit Ray, Tapan Sinha and Tarun Majumdar.
Born Ruma Ghosh in Kolkata in 1934, she married legendary singer Kishore Kumar in 1951 and the couple’s only child Amit Kumar was born next year. The couple divorced in 1958 and that year she formed the CYC with composer Salil Chowdhury and Ray.
The choir rendered with aplomb the Bengali translations of popular mass songs from various languages. Their discs were lapped up by music lovers.
In 1974, the CYC, under her direction, won the first prize at the Copenhagen Youth Festival.
After her divorce from Kumar, she married Arup Guha Thakurta. They have a son Ayan and a daughter Sramana, a noted singer.
She has sung playback for a number of films including ‘Lukochuri’, ‘Tin Kanya’ (directed by Ray), ‘Baksho Badal’ and ‘Amitra Kumbher Sandhane’.
Beginning with the Hindi film ‘Jwar Bhata’ in 1944, she acted in ‘Mashaal’, ‘Afsar’ and ‘Rag Rang’ in Bollywood, before moving into Bengali films with Rajen Tarafdar’s classic ‘Ganga’ in 1952.
Under Ray’s direction, Guha Thakurta acted in ‘Abhijaan’ and ‘Ganasahtru’ while playing prominent roles in three of Sinha’s films ‘Nirjan Saikate’, ‘Khaniker Atithi’ and ‘Wheel Chair’.
Majumdar directed her in ‘Polatak’, ‘Balika Bodhu’ and the evergreen comedy ‘Dadar Kirti’. She also acted in Aparna Sen’s maiden directorial venture ‘36 Chowringhee Lane’.
In 2006, she acted in Mira Nair’s English movie ‘The Namesake’, which was her last film.