True music lovers have always valued and cherished the songs of Suman Kalyanpur. Suman hs sung an infinite variety of songs, be it the playful song of the carefree youth ('Aha Aha Aa Ye Suhana Safar..') or a song instigating the immovable depths of love ('Chale Ja Chale Ja Jahan Pyar Mile..') or a mischievous song based on a western tune ('Aaj Kal Tere Mere Pyar Ke Charche..') or a classical number ('Aajhu Na Aaye Baalam Sawan Beeta Jaye..').
Suman was born on January 26, 1937 in Dhaka (Bangla Desh). In 1943 her family shifted to Bombay. She received her musical training in Bombay itself. Before marriage Suman was known as Suman Hemadi, and, after getting married to a Bombay based businessman, she became Suman Kalyanpur, the name by which we all know her.
Once Talat Mahmood heard her voice in a musical concert. Getting highly impressed by her voice, he recommended her to his music recording company HMV. Suman got her first chance of giving playback in the film called 'Mangu', in 1954. She sang 'Koi Pukaare Dheere Se Tujhe.' under the baton of music director Mohd. Shafi. 'Mangu' had four other songs which were composed by O. P. Naiyyar. She gained recognition in the film world. But she was unfortunate that people found her voice very close to Lata Mangeshkar and it was said that she copies Lata. Dur to this disappointing fact, the senior film makers slunk away from her. But inspite of all this, the producers of anti Lata camp made her sing in their movies.
Dil Ek Mandir (1963), Shagun (1964), Dil Hi To Hai (1963), Jahaan Ara (1964), Sanjh Aur Savera (1964), Paakeejah (1971), Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962), Noor Jahan (1967) and Miyan Biwi Razi (1960) are some of the movies for which she gave her outstanding performance. Till the last decade Suman Kalyanpur thrilled her audiences with her stage performances and concerts. She also made many successful foreign tours and concerts.
Suman never got the attention she deserved from the film-makers as well us from the film-goers. She sang around 740 songs (approximately) and few non-film songs as well. Inspite of being neglected by many film-makers it was her talent that she sung with almost every noted music directors and co-singers. Some of her most popopular songs are: 'Na Tum Hamen Jano..' (Baat Ek Raat Ki), 'Chhodo Chhodo Mori Baiyan..' (Miya Biwi Raazi), 'Dil Gham Se Jal Raha..' (Shama), 'Yun Hi Dil Ne Chaha Tha..' (Dil Hi To Hai), 'Bujha Diye Hain..' (Shagun), 'Mere Sang Gaa..' (Janwar), 'Mere Mehboob Na Ja..' (Noor Mahal), ' Tum Agar Aa Sako To..' (Ek Saal Pehle), 'Jo Hum Pe Gujarti Hai' (Mohabbat Isko Kehten Hain) etc.
Suman Kalyanpur has also recorded songs for several regional films in languages such as Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, Bengali, Oriya and Punjabi. She has recorded devotional songs, ghazals and thumris. She has been thrice the recipient of the prestigious Sur Sringar Samsad award for the best classical song in a Hindi film. In Hindi, she has sung the most with Shankar Jaikishan and Roshan, though Madan Mohan, S D Burman, Hemant Kumar, Chitragupt, S N Tripathi and Ghulam Mohammed made good use of her voice. The one and only duet that she sang with Lata Mangeshkar was under the baton of Hemant Kumar. The song was "kabhi aaj kabhi kal kabhi parson". She has recorded lovely duets with Rafi, Manna Dey and Mukesh besides Talat Mahmood and Hemant Kumar. Some of her memorable duets with Rafi are "ajahuna aaye baalamaa", "tumne pukaara aur hum chale aaye", "baad muddat ke yeh ghadi aayee", "mujhhe yeh phool na, tujhhko dilbari ki kasam" and "chaand takta hai idhar". With Manna Dey, she sang the enchanting duet "na jaane kahaan hum the" for the music director Dattaram. Over and above this, Suman Kalyanpur has also recorded beautiful songs with a classical base, many of which became popular. To name just a few, "ajhanu aaye baalamaa", "manamohan man mein ho tumhi", "mere sang gaa gungunaa", and "gir gayi re more maathe ki bindiya".
In Marathi, she recorded for Sudhir Phadke, Dashrath Pujari, Ashok Patki and several others. Some of her well-known Marathi songs are rimjhhim zharati shraawan dhaara, shabda shabda zapoon thhev, re kshanachya sangateene, jethe saagaraa dharanee miLate, bhaktichya phulaancha goad to suvaas and ketakichyaa banee tethe naachalaa ga mor.
The song got her work in subsequent films like Darwaza (1957) and a chance to work with the legend Naushad. He allowed her many songs in the film including a duet with Talat Mehmood - Ek dil do hain talabgaar, but the film's music did not register with the audiences. Suman Kalyanpur nee Hemadi waited until her big break came through later the same year, with Miss Bombay (1957). It was the first of her memorable duets with Mohammad Rafi - Din ho ya raat, hum rahen tere saath, yeh hamari marzi, that made the listeners finally tune in.
Despite being short-changed because her voice resembled Lata Mangeskar's too closely, Suman did manage to pick up a lot of work from various composers, including renowned ones like Ghulam Mohammad, Pt. Shivram, SD Burman, Shankar-Jaikishen (who simply loved Lata but made the exception nonetheless), Roshan, Dattaram, Madan Mohan (again, whose love and 'affair' with Lata is rather well documented), Khayyam, Kalyanji-Anandji, C Ramachandra and Laxmikant-Pyarelal.
Films like Pyaase Panchhi (Tumhi mere meet ho - a duet with Hemant Kumar), Shama (Ek jurm karke and Dil gham se jal raha…), Barsaat Ki Raat (Garjat barsaat sawan aayo..), Zindagi aur Khwaab (Na jaane kahan tum the… ), Baat Ek Raat Ki (Na tum hame jaano, na hum tumhe jaane), Dil Ek Mandir (Juhi ki kali meri laadli and the title song Dil ek mandir hai…), Jehan Ara (Baad muddat ke yeh ghadi…), Shagun (Parbaton ke pedhon par and Bujha diya hai khud apne haathon…), Jab Jab Phool Khile (Na, na karte pyar tumhi se), Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (the title song Dil ne phir yaad kiya…), Modern Girl (Yeh mausam rangeen sama…) and several others became huge sensations.
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