Romance starts and stops with the Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen pair in Bengali cinema. The actors first came together on the screen in the comedy Sharey Chuattor (1953), and the superhit romantic drama Agnipariksha (1954) cemented their status.
Directed by Agradoot, a group of film technicians responsible for Kumar’s earliest hits, Agnipariksha is the story of Tapasi (Sen), a singer who has been married as a child to the village zamindar’s son Bulu, and the relationship that develops between her and Kiriti (Kumar).
Lost in Mussoorie and separated from her family during a vacation, Tapasi ends up near a cliff, where she meets Kiriti. He tells Tapasi that he is a fan of her records and since it will take a while for the fog to clear, she might as well sing a song. Thus begins Gaane Mor Kon Indradhanu (Which rainbow has graced my song?). The sombre, reflective tune is rendered by Sandhya Mukherjee, who went on to become Sen’s voice, composed by Anupam Ghatak and written by Gauriprasanna Mazumder, Bengal’s top lyricist from the 1950s to the ’70s. The dim lighting, studio-generated fog and sparse but functional set design add to the ethereal nature of the song sequence.
Gaane Mor Kon Indradhanu is the first of many songs Tapasi sings for Kiriti in the movie. (In fact, Uttam Kumar does not have a single solo track or a duet in Agnipariksha.) The song reappears when Kiriti reminisces about his rendezvous with Tapasi back in Kolkata. The song plays on the gramophone while Tapasi sneaks into Kiriti’s house and surprises him.