Ruma Guha Thakurta is undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous female actresses to have graced not only Bengali but Indian cinema. She is well known for her striking contours and high cheekbones that most actresses covet for. But it was not by her beauty that she made her place in Bengali cinema. An excellent playback singer, she is probably the best singer-actress we have known in Indian cinema.
Debut and early life of Ruma Guha Thakurta
Ruma Guha Thakurta made her debut in 1944 in the black and white Hindi film Jwar Bhata. Coincidentally, it was also the debut film of Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar. She did a few more movies in Hindi before shifting to Bengali films. Her first Bengali film was Ganga in 1959.
Ruma Ghosh was born on November 3 1934 to Satyen Ghosh and her mother Sati Debi was also a singer. Her natural flair of singing came from her mother. She married the legendary Kishore Kumar in 1951. They had a son, Amit Kumar who is also a singer today.
Unfortunately her marriage with Kishore Kumar lasted only seven years and they got divorced. She later married Arup Guha Thakurta.
In her career, Ruma Guha Thakurta has acted in about sixty films only but her charm and passion for singing has won many hearts. She also has performed in an English language film, The Namesake. As per records, this is the last film till now in which she has acted. Although the actress may still sing at times, she is homebound due to complications of old age.
Calcutta Youth Choir
One of the greatest contributions of actress and playback singer Ruma Guha Thakurta is towards the Calcutta Youth Choir. Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta, is distinguished for its dedication towards the growth of art and culture, especially relating to the ethnic and indigenous forms and many well known people of Kolkata have taken up the task upon themselves.
Calcutta Youth Choir was founded with the aim to preserve and promote music and songs, with an emphasis on folk music. Ruma Guha Thakurta was one of the founding members of the Calcutta Youth Choir along with the legendary Satyajit Ray and famous music composer Salil Chowdhury.
Since 1958, Ruma Guha Thakurta has been active in leading the Choir till date. She led a troupe to the Copenhagen Youth Festival 1974. The group had about 20 members who performed at the festival and were awarded the first prize at this international event. The Calcutta Youth Choir has performed in many national events like the Independence Day Celebrations in Delhi and performed for Nelson Mandela’s visit to India. Her contributions to the group have made it one of the oldest and most active Choir groups in India.
Films of Ruma Guha Thakurta
Ruma Guha Thakurta will always remain in our heart as one of the most beauteous, talented and social personalities. In Bengali films, she played varied roles and most of them were of supporting characters. She played lead in a few films. Here are some of her most memorable black and white films of Ruma Guha Thakurta:
The 1959 film Personal Assistant brought Ruma Guha Thakurta to the limelight and made one of the most amazing couples of Bengali cinema. In this romantic comedy, she played the lead with the loved and popular actor Bhanu Bandopadhyay. The film had a wonderful cast of Pahari Sanyal, Tarun Kumar, Nripati Chatterjee, Renuka Roy and Tulsi Chakraborty.
Set in the late 1950s, Ramapada Dutta (Bhanu) is looking for a job. His friend Joy (Tarun Kumar) helps him to find odd jobs for him but it does not suit him. He loves kids, singing and writing poetry. Pressured by financial problems, he applies to a job in an office. However the confusion starts when he uses his name as Rama instead of Ramapodo. He is mistaken for a female in his application by his employer and boss Rumali (Ruma Guha Thakurta). However this confusion with his name turns to be a hilarious good thing in some cases.
One of the most famous and entertaining scenes of this film is Medini Debi’s piano performance. Renuka Roy as Medini Debi floored us with a few minutes of her awesome screen presence.
Personal Assistant is a good time spent with clean and feel-good comedy. It is one of those timeless black and white films that still entertain us.
The hit film Antony Firingi based on the life of the Portuguese traveller is a musical voyage. While Uttam Kumar impresses us with act as Bengal loving Hensman Anthony, Ruma Thakurta plays a role of Yogeshwari. Although this was a supporting role yet this was significant in many ways.
In this musical drama, Ruma Guha Thakurta plays a role that is closer to her skin. Yogeshwari was awell known folk singer of her times and through her portrayal, Ruma Guha Thakurta showed her proficiency both as an actor and singer. She sang her own songs in Antony Firingi and performed in this film making this film really special.
Related: Films based on true story
In Nirjan Saikate, the gorgeous Ruma Guha Thakurta does the character of a widow, still wows us with her charm and wins a National award for it. Nirjan Saikate is one of the best films of the master filmmaker Tapan Sinha.
Nirjan Saikate is based on the story by Kalkut’s (Samaresh Basu) novel of the same name. Although Sharmila Tagore and Anil Chatterjee are the lead actors, the story is focused on Renu’s (Shamila Tagore) companions, the four widows. These widows are played by Chhaya Debi, Ruma Guha Thakurta, Bharati Debi and Renuka Roy. These ladies were jointly awarded the National Film Award for Best actress in 1963. The film revolves around the life and existence of these women living together as widows. They are travelling to Puri along with their niece Renu when they meet co-passenger and writer, played by Anil Chatterjee.
Satyajit Ray’s Abhijaan is one of the most classic films of Bengali cinema and a coveted film in the global arena. Ruma Guha Thakurta is Neeli, the love interest of Narsingh played by Soumitra Chattopadhyay.
Neeli is a teacher in a missionary school. She is nice, sweet and sophisticated and draws the interest of the skeptical Narsingh. In spite of giving a misogynistic attitude he is drawn towards her refined and caring ways. However Neeli does not see him that way. She loves someone else who is crippled and the odds are against her. She decides to go away with him which adds to the grudge in Narsingh’s mind against women. Neeli was the best woman he knew and now she failed him. How could he ever trust women again?
Bhanu Bandopadhay and Ruma Guha Thakurta duo is one of the most entertaining in Bengali cinema. Ashiteo Ashiona is one of those unforgettable comedy films also featuring the Bhanu Jahar twosome.
Bhanu Bandopadhay is an octogenarian ailing from poor health and age related problems. His lovely wife Ruma Guha Thakurta is also aged and wrinkled. Their sons and their family are not as caring as one would expect. The old man’s loyal companion is his servant, played by Jahar Roy. To get some fresh air out of the city, the old man decides to travel to travel to a small town with his servant. As he was trying to ride a horse, he accidentally fell into a pond. Instead of being hurt and breaking ones, he lost his years miraculously and came out as a youth. What follows next is political and social turmoil that is as the same time tragic and funny.
One of the best remembered scenes of Ashiteo Ashiona is the romantic song that the young Bhanu and his wife Ruma sing in the car. Another hilarious scene is one where Bhanu refuses to get arrested by the police as he was standing halfway in water and ought to be arrested by the ‘Water Police’. These amusing and simple comic scenes make it one of the most loved films of Bengali cinema.
Here are a beautiful collection of songs performed by Ruma Guha Thakurta