indian cinema heritage foundation

Utpala Sen

  • Born: 12 March, 1924 (Dhaka)
  • Died: 13 May, 2005 (Kolkata)
  • Primary Cinema: Bengali
  • Spouse: Satinath Mukhopadhyay , Benu Sen

Eminent Bengali singer of the 1950s, Utpala Sen sang for legendary music directors S D Burman, Pankaj Mullick and Raichand Baral. Born in Dhaka, she sang on Dhaka Radio, her first record releasing in 1939. Sen shot to fame in 1941 with the song Ek hate mor pujar thala composed by music director Sudhirlal Chakraborty. She has to her credit approximately 7,000 songs, including film and non-film numbers. She also sang several duets with leading male singers like Hemanta Mukherjee, and Manna Dey as well as her husband, Satinath Mukherjee.

Utpala Sen was born on 12 March, 1924 in Dhaka, currently Bangladesh. Receiving her early musical training from Hiranbala Devi, followed by Ustad Gul Mohammad Khan, she gave her first public vocal performance on Dhaka Radio in 1935. She was just 11. She went on to record her first song in 1939, achieving popularity a couple of years later in 1941 with the Sudhirlal Chakraborty-composed devotional song Ek hate mor pujar thala, followed by Mahishasur mardinir shanti dile bhari. Moving to Calcutta in the early 40s, she became associated with Radio Akashvani. 

Utpala Sen’s career in playback singing started in 1944, with the film Meri Bahen. She went on to sing for 11 Hindi films, rendering 17 songs till 1954. Among the films she sang for are Anjangarh (1948), Digbhranta (1950), Babla (1951), Jaydev (1954), Shreebatsa Chinta (1955), Kalindi (1955), Daner Maryada (1956), Bicharak (1959), Ratan Lal Bangali (1960), Bigalito Karuna Janhabi Jamuna (1972), and Bon Palashir Padabali (1973). Among the songs she rendered are Jal jane do is duniya ko from Meri Bahen (1944), Gaye jaa tu geet suhane from Wasiatnama (1945), Paar karo dukhiya ka beda paar karo from Chhota Bhai (1949), Sundar sapno me tumhare from Manzoor (1949), Rah rah ke satati hai from Mala (1951), Aao sajni aao from Mala (1951), and Aaj sahi inkar magar kal karna hoga from Zalzala (1952). 

Sen was also popular for her Tagore songs such as Amar mallika bone in Bicharak (1959), and the eternally popular number Prantarer gaan amar composed by Salil Chowdhury, which is considered her best. She was also accomplished in adhunik geet, usually rendered with husband Satinath Mukherjee. 

On the personal front, she was married to Benu Sen. After his demise she remarried co-singer Satinath Mukherjee. 

Utpala Sen passed away on 13 May, 2005. She was survived by her son, Ashish Sen.