indian cinema heritage foundation

Mukul Bose

Sound Recording/ Audiography
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A pioneering and highly respected sound recordist, Mukul Bose introduced many techniques in playback singing and voice dubbing. Bose was instrumental in the first instance of playback singing attempted in the state of Bengal, within a few years of the release of India’s first talkie, Alam Ara (1931). When his brother, the well-known Bengal-based film director Nitin Bose had come up with the idea for his 1935 film, Bhagya Chakra (Circle of Fate), it was Mukul Bose who assisted him and music director Raichand Boral in executing the plan of using the voices of K C Dey, Parul Ghosh and Suprabha Sarkar in playback for his film. The film was remade as Dhoop Chaon (1935) in Hindi and became the first Hindi film to have playback singing. Sustaining a career over several decades, Bose worked on several prominent films such as Mahal (1949) and CID (1956). A technical stalwart in the sound department of noted studio New Theatres, he is known for films such as Alif Laila (1953), Mr and Mrs 55 (1955), Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke (1957), Do Ustad (1959), Umeed (1962), and Heer Ranjha (1970). He is credited with composing the background music of Dekh Kabira Roya (1957), as well as for serving as the song recordist for films such as Taxi Driver (1954), Milap (1955), Mujrim (1958), and Main Bhi Ladki Hoon (1964). He often worked in the sound department of films directed by his brother, noted director and cinematographer Nitin Bose.

Among the earliest films Bose worked on as sound recordist is the Bengali film Chirakumar Sabha (1932), produced by Dilip Pictures and distributed by New Theatres. The film, whose title translates as a conference of bachelors, was directed by Premankur Attorthy. It was one of Rabindranath’s first works to be made into a film. With music composed by R C Boral who used Tagore’s songs as lyrics, it starred Durgadas Bannerjee, Molina Devi, Amar Mullick, and Tinkari Chakraborty, among others. The plot revolved around a group of hardened bachelors who meet on a regular basis, and eventually settle for marriage. 

The same year, he worked on the social drama film Chandidas (1932), directed by Debaki Kumar Bose. Starring Durgadas Bannerjee, Krishna Chandra Dey, Manoranjan Bhattacharya, Amar Mullick and others, the film depicted the life and works of Chandidas, the legendary 15th-century Bengali Vaishnavite poet. It stressed the poet's teachings through the love story between Chandidas and a low-caste washerwoman, Rami. The conventional villain of the saint film genre, who represents the established order threatened by the outsider's revolutionary influence on common people, is the rapacious upper-caste merchant Bijoynarayan. When Rami rejects his advances, he persuades the high priest to insist that Chandidas must repent or be punished for associating with a low-caste woman. Chandidas agrees to repent but when he sees the injuries Rami has suffered at the hands of the merchant's goons, he rejects institutionalised religion in favor of the higher Vaishnavite call for a more democratic god and leaves the village with Rami.

In 1949, he served as the audiographer for the horror mystery drama Mahal, directed by Kamal Amrohi. A landmark ‘Bombay Gothic’ genre film, it revolved around a young lawyer Hari Shankar (Ashok Kumar) who is involved with a ghostly woman Kamini (Madhubala) in his new house, where the builder and his fiancée died shortly after it was built. 

He would go on to serve as the sound recordist for films such as the Nitin Bose-directed drama genre film Mashaal (1950); Nitin Bose’s Deedar (1951), starring Nargis, Ashok Kumar and Dilip Kumar about a traumatised and blind young man who makes a living singing, and searching for his childhood sweetheart; the romantic comedy Railway Platform (1955) directed by Ramesh Saigal wherein passengers from all backgrounds get stranded on an isolated railway platform when a natural disaster delays their train for 24 hours; Amiya Chakrabarty’s Dekh Kabira Roya (1957) revolving around three struggling artistes who share the same house and how their lives get entangled when they decide to help each other find love by using their talents; the romance genre Barkha (1959); Umeed (1962) directed by Nitin Bose and starring Ashok Kumar, Joy Mukherjee and Nanda; and the tragic love legend Heer Ranjha (1970) directed by Chetan Anand and starring Raaj Kumar, Priya Rajvansh and Pran.

Bose also worked in the music department as song recordist for films such as Alif-Laila (1953), Taxi Driver (1954), Mr and Mrs 55 (1955), Milap (1955), Mem Sahib (1956), CID (1956), Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke (1957), Johnny Walker (1957), 12 O’Clock (1958), Mujrim (1958), Raagini (1958), Do Ustad (1959), Main Bhi Ladki Hoon (1964), and Mohabbat Iski Kehete Hai (1965).