Ruma Guha Thakurta: The founder of 'gana sangeet' (Obituary)

Kolkata, June 3 (IANS) Veteran Bengali actress and singer Ruma Guha Thakurta passed away on Monday following old age related problems, prompting people to remember her for the legacy she left behind and mourn the loss.

Ruma Guha died at her residence here. She was 84.

Founder of the Calcutta Youth Choir (CYC), which played a 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.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to Twitter to mourn the loss. Several videos on the internet showed that the politician also went to her residence to pay her respects.

"Saddened at the passing away of Ruma Guha Thakurta. Her contribution to the field of cinema and music will always be remembered. My condolences to her family and her admirers," Banerjee tweeted.

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 Ruma Guha 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 Kishore Kumar, she married Arup Guha Thakurta. They have a son Ayan and a daughter Sromona, a noted singer.

"My heartfelt condolences on the demise of veteran actress Ruma Guha Thakurta. May her soul rest in peace," tweeted actress Arpita Chatterjee.

Rituparna Sengupta also posted: "Saddened by the news of eminent actress Ruma Guha Thakurta's demise. My most sincere condolences. May she rest in peace."

Singer Rekha Bhardwaj also expressed her condolences, and prayed for her soul.

Politician Madan Mitra tweeted: "Really saddened to hear about the passing away of the very talented and enigmatic Ruma Guha Thakurta. Founder of the Calcutta Youth Choir. The first wife of Kishore Kumar and mother of Amit Kumar. My heartfelt condolences to her family and friends."

Another politician Partha Chatterjee said: "The founder of Calcutta Youth Choir and a renowned veteran actress, Ruma Guha Thakurta passes away today. Indeed, it's an end of an era. Her creative brilliance will stay forever. My Condolences to her family. May her soul rest in peace."

Ruma Guha has done 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 on to Bengali films with Rajen Tarafdar's classic 'Ganga' in 1952.

Under Ray's direction, Ruma Guha 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.