Nilima was born as Nilima Gupta in Kolkata, India on April 28, 1928. Her parents moved to Shantiniketan when she was six.She had her education there and completed diploma course in Classical Music & Rabindra Sangeet from Santiniketan.She also did her B.A from the Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan. She had the privilge of acting under the direction of Tagore but that was not staged.She sang in the presence of Gandhiji, Subhash Bose etc. during their visit to Santiniketan. Her Guru was mainly Shri Sailajaranjan Mazumder.
She started singing at the AIR and cut her first disc at the age of 16 and soon became famous. In 1950, she married Dr Amiya Kumar Sen and settled in Santiniketan. She has a daughter Nilanjana who also is a singer. She visited US with her husband and performed at various centres including BBC.
She founded the music school "Surangama" along with Prasad Sen and later joined Sangeet Bhavan as a Faculty. For a couple of years, she taught music at Bardhhaman University. She became the Principal of Sangeet Bhavan & retired from there. As a Faculty, she took part in various dance dramas like Tasher Desh, Mayar Khela (along with Suchitra Mitra), Sesh Raksha (along with Supriyo Tagore) organised by Vishwa Bharati & staged at auditoriums like Rabindra Sadan, New Empire Kolkata. Songs like "Chokher jaler laglo joar", "Aha tomar sange", "Bajao re mohan banshi" found correct expression through the embedded sadness in her voice.
She performed all over India, Bangladesh, UK, US, Burma & Malaysia. Her famous students include Swastika Mukhopadhyay, Lily Islam, Basabi Datta, Rezwana Chowdhury Banya, Rita Ghosh, Pramita Mallick, Jayanti Purkayastha, Soma Roy, Aditi Mohsin etc.
She has a number of music albums to her credit.
She died in 1996 after a prolonged illness.
In 2005, sa re ga ma released "ki ragini bajale"-some 21 of her songs in a collection
- "The voice that continues to enchant". The Daily Star. May 8, 2005. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- "Singing new tunes". The Telegraph. April 23, 2005. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- "An evening of Rabindra Sangeet". The new Nation. August 17, 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- "Evocative style". The Telegraph. March 10, 2006. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- "Under the shady trees of Shantiniketan: Aditi Mohsin recalls her days at Tagore's university". The Daily Star. November 2, 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- "Good Morning - Soiree to mark the 75th birth anniversary of Rabindrasangeet exponent Nilima Sen". The Telegraph. April 28, 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- "Nilima Sen discography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
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