Gupta was born on 22nd November 1933 in Calcutta. His mother
was a very accomplished singer in Calcutta having sung in
the All India Radio. As a child he used to play the ordinary
mouth organs till one marine engineer person from Calcutta
got him two Hohner Chromatic Harmonicas. And there began
the great journey of Milon Gupta.
Milon Gupta has innumerable 78 rpms, LPs & EPs
to his credit, most of them smashing hits across the country.
Songs played by him like ''o sajna barkha bahar ayi'', ''Ajeeb
dastan hain'', ''Aj koi nahin apni'', ''Zindagi kaisi hain
paheli'' and many others sound as if the songs were composed
keeping him and his instrument in mind.
self taught musician with absolutely no formal training, he single
handedly took the mouth organ to levels never attained in India.
He showed that how a pure Western Instrument with such complications
and limitations can be adapted to play Indian melodies and songs
with all the perfect nuances. This was evident in his early days
itself when he was mesmerising audiences with his skillful playing
of songs like ''palkir gaan'', ''gayer bodhu'', ''Ayega anewala'',
''jago mohan pyaare'' and many more, which till then was unheard
of being played on a mouth organ.
was his repertoire and mastery over that instrument that he soon
got noticed by the great composer Salil Chowdhury, whilst he was
performing at a local concert. This was way back in 1950-51. Soon
came ''Pasher Badi'', a very successful movie in Bengal in those
days (which later got remade as Padosan in Hindi), and that movie
marked the begining of Milon Gupta's mouth organ being used in
films. Soon he set for Bombay and played in innumerable movies
like Naukri, CID, Dost, Dosti, Roti, Kashmir ki Kali, Patita,
to name a few. He played under the distinguished composers like
Salil Chowdhury, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, SD Burman, Kalyanji Anandji,
Shankar Jaikishen, OP Nayyar, Mukul Roy, Sudhin Dasgupta, Manna
De, Shyamal Mitra, Hemant Kumar and many more. He spent a number
of years assisting OP Nayyar and in one of his sittings with OP
Nayyar and Majrooh Sultanpuri, the famous Yeh Hain Bombay meri
jaan was created. The story goes how OP Nayyar asked him to play
that particular western number and Majrooh saab wrote the lyrics
on the spot. This was later narrated by Milon Gupta in an interview
on Television a few years before his death.
command over Western music on the instrument was unparalalled.
He had a school of sudents who would only learn Latin and Western
music from him. Even though he had no formal training, he was
equally fluent with both the Indian notation as well as the Western
Stave notation. People who have his private recordings of western
playing have often compared him to the great Larry Adler who once
met Milon Gupta when he came to India for the only time. Almost
unbelievable as it may sound, but he adapted this instrument to
play kirtans and rabindrasangeet with as much finesse as he used
to play Western.
was because of Milon Gupta that this instrument reach the height
of its popularity in India. The old timers in Deodar street still
recollect how SD Burman used to drive to his house regularly to
drop our very own RD Burman to take lessons from Milon Gupta.
fact unknown to many, he was one of the only person in India who
knew how to repair and retune the mouth organ. He used to spend
every Monday to repair mouth organs for hundreds of his students
all across the country. Again unbelievable as it may sound in
today's world, he never charged a penny for that.
mouth organ, as he always used to call it, became a household
instrument because of him and after his death on 18th February,
1995, the instrument has almost faded into oblivion from the Indian
film and music industry. A perfect gentleman, who was lovingly
referred to as Milonda by all and sundry last played some mesmerising
interludes in Nachiketa's (one of Calcutta's most popular singers)
a few months before his death, giving the audience a taste of
the Larry Adler influence on him. A great cook, a perfect gentleman,
our very own Milonda is still referred to as one of the finest
soloist this country has ever seen. His music still rings in our
years and even the current mobile phone generation has seen his
numbers being used as caller tunes, such was his spread. As we
mark his 75th birthday, the sweet sound of his mouth organ still
plays at the back of every music lover.
of Harmonica Club of Hyderabad, Ramakrishna Sabnavees wrote this
based on inputs provided by Arijit Mukherjee, the nephew of Milon