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Published on 24 Aug 2009 | over 7 years ago

Kamala Jharia's real name was Kamala Singha. She lived in the palace of the Maharaja of Jharia (now in Dhanbad district, coal capital of India, Jharkhand state, India). Her parents probably worked in the palace in some capacity. The surname Singha is common in several Hindi speaking northern and north western states of India as also in Bengal but there is no doubt that she was a Bengalee by birth. Mr K. Mallick (real name was Qamal Malik) who at the time was a very popular gramophone singer, was invited to the palace to sing at the court of Maharaja Shiva Prasad on the occasion of his marriage. The Maharaja was so pleased with K. Mallick's performance that he appointed him court singer in Jharia. K Mallick had to stay back at Jharia for sometime during which he discovered Kamala's musical talent and brought her to Calcutta and introduced her to HMV authorities. Kamala recorded four songs for HMV and went back to Jharia. She was paid sixty five Rupees only for the four songs. Her first published record was a red label one, numbered N 3137 in 1930. The songs were a) Priya Jeno Prem Bhulo Na, a Ghazal and b) Nithur Nayan Baan Keno Hano, a Dadra. Lyricist for both the songs was _Dhiren Das_. The authorities had some problem in naming the artiste. They knew her name but not her surname. They could not credit her as Miss Kamala because there was already one singer of the same name. Finally it was decided to identify her as Miss Kamala (Jharia) keeping in mind her then usual place of residence and thus began her illustrious musical career. Her formal training in music was from giants like a) Ujir Khan for Thumris, Ghazals and Indian classical b) Jamiruddin Khan c) K. Mallick d) Mr Satish Ghosh and Shrinath Das Nandi, to whom she formally performed the Nara Bandhan and became a regular student. Later, she came in contact with Kaji Nazrul Islam and Tulsi Lahiri, who was a film director, producer, lyricist and music director in fact he was a very colorful personality with his talent spread over a wide field. Later, Kamala Jharia became closely associated with Tulsi Lahiri in her personal life and lived with him as his wife. Kamala became a regular artiste of HMV and sister concern Twin records though she was later shifted to Megaphone Company along with her mentor Tulsi Lahiri but this was part of a purely business arrangement between HMV and Megaphone. Other recording companies like Pioneer, Senola, Columbia also published her songs. She joined films in 1933 and her first bengali film was Jamuna Puliney (1933), which happened to be the first sound films of _Angurbala_ and _ Indubala actress Kanhopatra (1937)_ as well. Apart from Bengali, she used to sing in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujrati and many other Indian languages and at that period no other artiste would sing in so many different languages which explains her all India status and popularity. One of her lofty achievements was Bengali devotional songs like Kirtans and Ramprasadi. Songs like Katara Radhika Dekhiya Adhika, Maa Howa Ki Mukher Katha, Kanu Kahe Rai Kahitey Darai (Chandidas) are remembered today. She acted in films like in Mantra Shakti (1935), _Thikadaar(1940)_, _Sonar Sangsar(1936)_, Bijoyini (1941), Bangalee (1936), Tarubala (1936), Night Bird (1934), Step Mother (1935), Devjani (1939), Pataal Puri (1935), Mastuto Bhai (1934), Blood Feud (1931) and other films. As a playback artiste she lent her voice for the heroine Madhavi in the Urdu film _Selima(1935)_ directed by _Modhu Bose_. Her singing career spanned over three decades. Kamala was associated with All India radio from the time of its inception as a singer. In 1976, The Gramophone Company of India honoured her with a Gold Disc, as a mark of lifetime achievement. She was attached to the radio from the very beginning of her career and also made several tours all over India singing at the durbars of different native princes. In 1977, during the celebration of the golden jubilee of All India Radio, she was felicitated as one of the living artistes who had taken part from the beginning of All India Radio. Mr Lal Krishna Advani, then minister for information and broadcasting, graced the occasion by his presence. She was very unwell and had to be helped by two escorts on the dais. _Angurbala_ was also present and rendered the same song as she had done on the first day of the radio company's broadcasting. This was Kamala's last public appearance. The third of the trio, _Indubala_ was too ill at the time to attend. A documentary titled "Teen Kanya" was made on the lives and achievements of the three in 1972 and all the three artistes were present on the first day of the film's screening. Among those present on the occasion were _Satyajit Ray_ and Hritwik Ghatak. Kamala Jharia suffered from chronic asthma for a long time and passed away on the 20th day of December, 1979.
Biography By: Dr. Jyoti Prakash Guha

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