Music director and singer Ninu Mazumdar was a pioneer of popular Gujarati Sugam Sangeet or light music. Mazumdar scored the music for several Hindi films such as Amanat (1943), Kiran (1944), Paristan (1944), Rangile Dost (1944), Main Kya Karun (1945), Gudiya (1947), Jail Yatra (1947), Gopinath (1948), Kuch Naya (1948), Aflatoon (1950), Ajmaish (1950), Raj Ratan (1951), Rami Dhoban (1953), Teen Tasveerein (1954), and Bhai Saheb (1954). Gujarati films which he composed for include Jeevano Jugari, Okha Haran (1975), and Sharad Poonam. He also rendered playback with leading singers such as Sardar Akhtar in Uljhan, and Amirbai Karnataki in Paristan, while, as a music director, he worked with some of the leading singers, such as Geeta Dutt, Suraiya, Pradeepji, C H Atma, Shobha Gurtu, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, and Manna Dey. From 1954, Mazumdar worked as light music producer with all India Radio in Mumbai for over 20 years. He endeavoured to introduce a classical touch to film music by borrowing from the old greats like Surdas.
He was born Niranjan Mazumdar to a dramatist and film producer father, Nagendra Mazumdar, who made silent films. A career in films was expected, as Nagendra ensured his son undertook training in music from a very young age. On the other hand, his mother and grandmother belonged to Surat, which had been at the forefront of the 19th century reforms movement in Gujarat. His family and social background were to affect his search for music and knowledge, resulting in a secular and creative approach to scriptures, Sanskrit classics and medieval saint poetry. Influenced in his initial years by Faiyaz Khan, Ninu, as he was better known, explored various routes studying different kinds of music before he homed in on Sugam Sangeet or light music, becoming one of the first Gujarati Sugam Sangeet singers. Around this time, Gujarati music and theatre was shrugging off the influences of commercial melodrama and historicals, and embracing the new trend of light music which was derived from classical ragas. Mazumdar also became popular for his Garbaas and Bhajans.
Graduating to composing his own music and writing songs, Mazumdar was also influenced by classical music, and Rabindra Sangeet. During this time, Bengali language enjoyed high prestige among Gujaratis of a certain class, comparable to the status of French among English-speaking nations. While this influence waned, that of folk songs and semi-classical music of Uttar Pradesh was more lasting. From the Hori, Chaiti, and Barkha Biraha to the Thumri and Dadra, Ninu absorbed these during the time he lived in UP for some years, taking up farming. He was also connected to these musical forms via his association with music connoisseur Satyendra Trivedi, and Thumri Queen Siddheshwari Devi.
From the time he started his training in music at Baroda, it was Ninu Mazumdar’s desire to score music for films. Participating in light Gujarati musical programmes from 1937 onwards, he also produced many features for All India Radio. He enjoyed a long association with All India Radio in Bombay from 1954, working as light music producer with the organisation for over 20 years. A shortage of Gujarati artists restricted him to concentrating on programmes in Gujarati, though he would have liked to dabble in Hindi programmes as well. In charge of music for the newly launched Vividh Bharati, Mazumdar successfully produced programmes inviting Salil Chaudhary, Kanu Ghosh and others from Bombay Youth Choir or IPTA and using voices of Manna Dey and other popular artists. When the issue of royalties between the film producers and AIR was settled, Mazumdar was the first to produce the popular Jaymala programme, interviewing eminent persons from the film industry.
His career in films started in the 40s, when he rendered songs with Sardar Akhtar in Uljhan (1942), with Amirbai Karnataki in Paristan and Meena Kapoor in Gopinath. While he did add a classical touch to film music borrowed from old greats like Surdas, he scored music for Gopinath, and Jail Yatra, among other Hindi and Gujarati films. In fact, the song Yashomati maiyase poochhe Nandlala from the Raj Kapoor film Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) was inspired by Mazumdar's composition Aai gori Radhika from Gopinath. However, he found the field restrictive owning to the demand for fast-paced work and the need to please the tastes of the majority.
While Mazumdar sang and penned quite a few of his songs, as a music director he also worked with playback singers such as Meena Kapoor, Shamshad Begum, Hameedabanu, C H Atma, Ameerbai Karnataki, Shankar Dasgupta, S D Batish, Lakshmi Shankar, Talat Mahmood, Siddheshwari Devi, Rajkumar, and others.
He was married a second time in 1954 to noted singer Kaumudi Munshi, who was known as the Nightingale of Gujarat. Mazumdar was engaged in helping build Kaumudi's singing career. He wrote some songs specially for her, composed them, had them recorded and helped create a music album. Mazumdar had three daughters with his first wife Sharda, namely Rajul Mehta who is a well-known singer who has kept her father’s musical legacy alive, Sonal Shukla who is an established social worker, and Minal Patel, a prominent theatre and film personality.
Veteran composer Ninu Mazumdar passed away on 3 March, 2000.
Information courtesy: www.kaumudimunshi.com