Atulprasad Sen

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Atulprasad Sen
অতুলপ্রসাদ সেন
Atul prasad.jpg
Atulprasad Sen
Born (1871-10-20)20 October 1871
Dhaka, Bengal, British India
Died 26 August 1934(1934-08-26) (aged 62)
Lucknow, United Provinces, India
Occupation poet, composer, singer
Nationality Indian
Period Bengal Renaissance

Atulprasad Sen (Bengali: অতুলপ্রসাদ সেন) (20 October 1871 – 26 August 1934) was a Bengali composer, lyricist and singer.[1][2] He is principally remembered as a musician and composer. His songs centred on three broad subjects- patriotism, devotion and love. The sufferings he experienced in his life found their ways into his lyrics; and this has made his songs full of pathos.

Atulprasad is credited with introducing the Thumri style in Bengali music.[1] He also pioneered Ghazals in Bengali, composing about 6 or 7 ghazals.[2]

Early life[edit]

Atulprasad Sen was born in a Vaidya-Brahmin family hailing from the village Magor in South Bikrampur, Shariatpur . He was born in his maternal uncle's house in Dhaka (as was the custom at that time). His father died when he was a toddler. Atulprasad was raised by his maternal grandfather renowned Brahmo social reformer Kalinarayan Gupta, who initiated him in music and devotional songs. Atul Prasad`s mother Hemantasashi Sen, later remarried to prominent Brahmo Samaj reformer Durga Mohan Das.[1]

In 1890, Atulprasad passed the Entrance examination. Next, he studied at Presidency College in Kolkata, and then went to London to study law. After successfully becoming a lawyer, he returned to Bengal, and opened up a law practice in Rangpur and Kolkata. Later he moved to Lucknow, where he became the president of the Oudh Bar Association and the Oudh Bar Council.[1]

Work In Lucknow[edit]

Atulprasad practised law in Lucknow,from 1902 to 1934. Lucknow played an important role in Atulprasad's Musical creation and experiments. At this time, he used to hold musical soirees almost every evening at his residence where maestros like Ahammad Khalif Khan, Chhotey Munne Khan, Barkat Ali Khan and Abdul Karim used to sing. Engrossed in such musical sessions, he used to forget to attend his clients. He wrote most of his songs during his residence in Lucknow. He was able to internalise the Hindustani rendition style well since he lived almost half his life in northern India. Such exposure led Atulprasad to introduce the raga-based classical idiom, especially the thumri (a speciality of Lucknow), into Bangla music. Atulprasad adapted the Hindustani style to fit Bangla songs, without distorting their tune and measure. He added a new dimension to Bangla songs and opened the way for further experiments. Atulprasad used fast-paced Hindustani tunes like kheyal, thumri and dadra skilfully. Although some have criticised his attempt to blend Hindustani tunes with Bangla songs, he has been able to add an element of spontaneity on occasions when the tune has transcended the lyrics. His songs based on thumri and dadra have considerable artistic merit. Examples of such songs are Ki ar chahiba balo (What more shall I ask for?/ Bhairabi/tappa kheyal), Ogo nithur daradi (O the merciless/ mixed Ashabari-dadra/tap thumri), Yaba na yaba na ghare (I won't go home/ thumri), etc. His raga-based songs include Bandhu dhar dhar mala (o my friend, take the garland/ kalingda), Tabu tomay daki bare bare (Yet I call you/ Sindhu Kafi) continue to stir people.

Atulprasad's introduction of the raga to the Bangla songs had a significant impact on Bengali music, and influenced the songs of Kazi Nazrul Islam and other raga-based modern songs. Atulprasad died in Lucknow on 26 August 1934.


  1. ^ a b c d Sayeed, Khan Md (2012). "Sen, Atulprasad". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  2. ^ a b Arnold, Alison (2000). The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Taylor & Francis. p. 851. ISBN 0-8240-4946-2.