Hemanta Mukherjee, often credited as Hemant Kumar, (16 June 1920 – 26 September 1989) was an Indian playback singer, music director, and film producer, who sang in Bengali, Hindi and other Indian languages. He won two National awards for the category best male playback singer. His legacy still lives on through the songs he has recorded, music he has composed, and through many male singers in Bengal and the rest of India who continues to imitate his singing style.
By the mid-1950s, Hemanta had consolidated his position as a prominent singer and composer. In Bengal, he was one of the foremost exponents of Rabindra Sangeet and perhaps the most sought-after male singer. In a ceremony organized by Hemanta Mukherjee to honor Debabrata Biswas (1911–1980), the legendary Rabindra Sangeet exponent, in Calcutta in March 1980, Debabrata Biswas unhesitatingly mentioned Hemanta as “the second hero” to popularize Rabindra Sangeet, the first being the legendary Pankaj Kumar Mallick. In Mumbai, along with playback singing, Hemanta carved a niche as a composer. He composed music for a Hindi film called Nagin (1954) which became a major success owing largely to its music. Songs of Nagin remained chart-toppers continuously for two years and culminated in Hemant receiving the prestigious Filmfare Best Music Director Award in 1955. The very same year, he scored music for a Bengali movie called Shapmochan in which he played back four songs for the Bengali actor Uttam Kumar. This started a long partnership between Hemant and Uttam as a playback singer-actor pair. They were the most popular singer-actor duo in Bengali cinema over the next decade.
In the latter part of the 1950s, Hemanta composed music and sang for several Bengali and Hindi films, recorded several Rabindra Sangeets and Bengali non-film songs. Almost all of these, especially his Bengali songs, became very popular. This period can be seen as the zenith of his career and lasted for almost a decade. He sang songs composed by the major music directors in Bengal such as Nachiketa Ghosh, Robin Chatterjee and Salil Chowdhury. Some of the notable films Hemanta himself composed music for during this period include Harano Sur, Marutirtha Hinglaj, Neel Akasher Neechey, Lukochuri, Swaralipi, Deep Jwele Jaai, Shesh Parjanta, Kuhak, Dui Bhai, and Saptapadi in Bengali, and, Jagriti and Ek Hi Raasta in Hindi.