Just after the sad news of the passing away on September 26, 1989 of Hemanta Mukhopadhyay or Hemant Kumar -- as he was best known to the non-Bengalis -- spread all around, an extremely pal of gloom and utmost grief dawned upon the music connoisseurs of the whole of India, specifically West Bengal - the repository of many reputed musicians the Indian Subcontinent has produced - along with the rest of India and quite significantly Bangladesh where he returned from less than a month ago.
How - a singer can have a great impact on the mind of music lovers especially the Bengalis - and how - a singer may have gained a perpetual place in the realm of Bengali, Hindi songs and let alone Tagore songs - can best be understood by the legend into which Hemanta was turned into in his most illustrious music career spanning more than 56 years.
By mesmerizing the innumerable listeners days after days, months after months, years after years, decades after decades, he indisputably immortalized himself as a legendary singer in the arena of Indian Music ever since he started singing. Probably centuries after centuries he would supposedly continue to churn the mind of the musically inclined Bengalis as long as Bengali language exits. From the middle of 40's till the middle of 80's, he endeared himself to the music lovers of the sub continent by his God-gifted lilting and mellifluous voice and bound the music listeners with the knot of an inseparable ties.
As soon as his untimely death news reached the length and breadth of Calcutta, people from all walks of life - bringing the busy public life of Kolkata to a standstill - tried to throng Rabindra Sadan, the glorious seat of learning of Indian Culture with some of the nostalgic and avid admirers, listeners of his songs, weeping inconsolably and even following the funeral procession to march towards for the funeral rites of Hemanta as if they had been the relatives and kin of him to mourn his death and to bid him the last adieu. Truly speaking without any sort of exaggeration and with due respects to other reputed singers; not many singers appear to have reached the extreme corner of the diehard music connoisseurs as Hemanta Mukherjee did.
Akash Bani Kolkata paid rich tribute to him by getting the listeners to listen to ( Hemanta Sangeet ), Rabindra sangeet by which he was conspicuous almost throughout his music career. Incognizant of Hemanta's passing away, many listeners who tuned in Akash Bani on September 26, 1989 [on Tuesday] to listen to Nazrul Sangeet [specifically allocated from 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM for that day] kept wondering why Rabindra Sangeet by Hemanta - not scheduled for that day was being played back one after another. Nostalgic Rabindra Sangeets such as "Amar Rat Pohalo Sharodo Prate Amar Rat Pohalo", "Jakhon Bhaglo Ei Milono Mela", "Amar Jabar Belay Pichu Dake", continued to be played in that 30-minute program as if Akash Bani was paying the greatest tribute to Hemanta. Wasn't it that Akash Bani which was glorified by Hemanta's songs ? Wasn't it that Akash Bani which kept him waiting hours after hours for the audition test in the early 40's when Pankaj Mallik, Jaganmoy Mitra were recording songs one after another ?
The music lovers and his diehard fans in Bangladesh where he visited for the last time just 3 weeks before his passing away became completely flabbergasted to know that Hemanta would never come back to Bangladesh, reminiscing one of his favorite Bengali songs "Amar Ganer Swarolipi Lekha Robe", Ami Jodi ar nai ashi hetha phire, Agami Prithibi kan pete shono." What grieved the Bangladeshi music lovers more than what they could think about is the passing away of Dr. Abu Hena Mustafa - a poet in his own right, and a music connoisseur who interviewed Hemanta in the TV program. Just two weeks after Dr. Mustafa died, then came in the news of Hemanta's eternal departure. What a coincidence it was that two great personalities of two countries grieved the populace by their passing away as if both of them were bound by the rope of music that couldn't separate them.