Given the fascination for an engineering degree and a cushy job thereafter, it is almost unheard of a youth to give up his pursuit of an engineering qualification and take up a career in music.

If his relations had despaired of his career choice and voiced their disapproval, the career graph of the youth were to make them eat their words. Success which proved to be elusive in his initial career almost became Hemanta Mukhopadhaya&’s signature tune.

From baby steps in the arena of playback singing to holding the people spellbound by his rendition of Ganyer Badhu in which his friend composer Salil Choudhury played a major role, Mukhopdhaya was to become the foremost singer of Rabindra Sangeet. Not content to rest on his laurels, he picked up the composer&’s baton. Harano Sur, Saptapadi, Neelakasher Neeche, Lukochu ri, Swaralipi, Deep Jwele Jwai, Shesh Parjanta, Kuhak, Dui Bhai, Baghini, Balika Badhu, Da dar Kirti are some of the films in which the songs he set to tune are hummed even to this day.

Bees Saal Baad and Khamoshi are among the successful Hindi films he produced. Inarguably, the songs of Nagin whose tunes he composed marked his high watermark in Hindi films. Hemanta flew to Hollywood following famous film director Conrad Rooks&’s offer and scored the music of Conrad&’s Siddhartha and played back in that film.

He was the first Indian singer to play back in Hollywood. The US government honoured Hemanta by giving him citizenship of Baltimore, Maryland. The birth anniversary of the first ever singer of India to get USA citizenship passed by last last week.