Ruma Guha Thakurta, singer-actress, dies at 84

Jwar Bhata will be remembered for being the debut of both Ruma and acting legend Dilip Kumar; her other Hindi films were Mashaal, Afsar, Raag Rang and Paar

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Kolkata: Actor-singer Ruma Guha Thakurta, who featured in films such as Jwar Bhata, Ganga and 36 Chowringhee Lane while straddling an equally successful playback career, died in her sleep early Monday aged 84, family sources said.

Ruma, the first wife of actor-singer-filmmaker Kishore Kumar, passed away at her Ballygunge Place residence in the city. She was suffering from age-related ailments. She is survived by two sons and a daughter.

“She passed away in her sleep early this morning. Our family doctor confirmed it. The timing of her death could be between 6 and 6:15 am,” said Ayan Guha Thakurta, her son from her second marriage.

“Dada (Amit) is coming here this evening. He will be taking all the decisions (about her last rites),” Ayan said.

Ruma had returned to Kolkata only a month ago after staying with Amit Kumar in Mumbai for three months. Her last rites will be performed with state honours and a gun salute, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said after visiting her residence.

“As per the wishes of the family, her body will be kept here at her home for admirers to come and pay their last respect,” Banerjee said.

Ruma, whose film career spans over 60 years, was born on 3 November 1934 in Kolkata. She started her career as a dancer before moving to the then Bombay where she married singer Kishore Kumar in the early 1950s but they got divorced in 1958. She later married writer-director Arup Guha Thakurta and had two children — singers Sromona and Ayan.

Ruma, Satyajit Ray’s niece, worked in the master director’s films Abhijaan (1962) and Ganashatru (1989). She also collaborated with ace filmmakers such as Tapan Sinha, Goutam Ghose, Mira Nair, Aparna Sen, Tarun Majumdar and Rajen Tarafdar.

Ruma’s major film roles include Palatak, Antony Firingee, 80 Te Asio Na, Balika Badhu, Dadar Kirti, Bhalobasa Bhalobasa and Wheelchair.

Jwar Bhata will be remembered for being the debut of both Ruma and acting legend Dilip Kumar. Her other Hindi films were Mashaal, Afsar, Raag Rang and Paar.

Ruma essayed a role in Aparna Sen’s first film 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981). Ruma’s last movie was Mira Nair’s Namesake (2006).

As a playback singer, she lent her voice to a number of films ranging from Lukochuri in 1958 to Amrita Kumbher Sandhane in 1982.

Ruma founded the Calcutta Youth Choir, a song and dance troupe, in 1958, which is known for its performance of folk and mass songs.

The choir played a key role in popularising songs like Aaj joto juddhabaj, Bharatbarsho surjer ek naam, O Ganga boichho keno and Waqt ki awaz.

Before visiting the Guha Thakurta residence, the chief minister in a tweet expressed her grief over the passing away of Ruma.

“Saddened at the passing away of Ruma Guha Thakurta. Her contribution to the field of cinema and music will always be remembered. My condolences to her family and her admirers,” the chief minister wrote on her Twitter handle.

Union Minister Babul Supriyo, actors Rituparna Sengupta and Prosenjit Chatterjee also condoled Ruma’s death.