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Sandhya Mukherjee was warm and affectionate, recalls veteran actress Sandhya Roy

Sandhya Roy recalls her collaboration as a newcomer with the singer who died yesterday of a cardiac arrest at 90.

Roushni Sarkar

'Geetasri' Sandhya Mukherjee, who died on Tuesday, was the singing voice of the legendary Bengali actress Suchitra Sen. But the National award-winning singer also sang some memorable numbers for other actresses of the era, including Sandhya Roy. Maya Mriga (1960), Agun (1962) and Alor Pipasa (1965) are some of the films in which the singer lent her voice to characters portrayed by Roy on screen.

Bereaved by the departure of the singer whom she addressed as Didibhai, Roy said, “It’s difficult to sum up my journey with Sandhya-di in a few words. I knew her since the beginning of my career and also got popularity with her songs. Besides performing her songs on screen, we used to check dialogues that would often go within the songs and discuss them. I was a newcomer then but was never intimidated by her. She was warm and affectionate.”

Mukherjee had rendered the song 'Thamak Thamak' in Asit Sen’s film Agun for Roy. “Within the song, I had to laugh in three different ways," the veteran actress recalled. "I was quite nervous thinking whether I would be able to do justice to her singing with the laugh. However, I managed to pull that off with a single take with the blessings of my senior artistes and Sandhya didi appreciated me a lot.”

Mukherjee had stayed in touch with Roy even after both retired from the film scene. “After I recovered from COVID-19, Didibhai sought updates on my health from my brother,” Roy said. “She was doing well and used to do all her work on her own. She never encouraged laziness. I could always get in touch with her whenever I wanted to. She survived COVID-19, but when she had to go through an operation, I became apprehensive. My fears proved real. She could live for only a few days more.”

Roy also spoke of the enduring popularity of Mukherjee’s songs in the villages and small towns of Bengal. “When I used to go on Jatra tours," she said, "I would be inspired by her songs. I used to love it when she performed in Anurodher Ashor, an All India Radio programme of the golden era. However, of all the songs that she rendered for me, 'O Bak Bak Bakum Bakum Payra' from Maya Mriga is my favourite.”