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In The Memory Of Salil Choudhary...
Thursday, November 18, 2010 AT 11:45 PM (IST)
Salil Chowdhury was a famous Indian Music composer. He mainly composed for Bengali, Bollywood and Malayalam films. He was also a poet and a playwright. He is affectionately called 'Salilda' by all his admirers.

His musical genius was widely recognized and acknowledged in the Indian film industry. He was an accomplished arranger and was proficient in several musical instruments, including flute, the piano, and the esraj. He was also widely acclaimed and admired for his inspirational and original poetry.
His father inherited a large number of western classical records and a gramophone from a departing Irish doctor. Salilda listened to Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, etc.

Salil Chowdhury was born in a Hindu kayasth family. Much of his early childhood was spent in the tea gardens of Assam, where his father was a medical doctor. Salil's childhood was spent in the tea gardens of Assam. From an early age he listened to the Western Classical collection of his father. His father was reputed to stage plays with coolies and other low-paid workers of the tea-gardens. He graduated from Bangabashi College, Kolkata and it was during this period of time that his political ideas were formulated quickly along with a considerable maturity in his musical ideas. He was a man with excellent talent

In 1944, a young Salil came to Calcutta for his graduate studies. He joined the IPTA (Indian Peoples Theater Association) the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India. He started writing songs and setting tunes for them. The IPTA theatrical outfit travelled through the villages and the cities bringing these songs to the common man. Songs like Bicharpati, Runner and Abak protibhi became extremely popular with the general population at the time.

Songs like Gaayer bodhu, which he composed at the age of 20, brought about a new wave of Bengali music. Almost every notable singer at the time from West Bengal had sung at least one of this songs. A few examples are Hemanta Mukherjee, Shyamal Mitra, Manabendra Mukherjee, Pratima Banerjee, etc. His first Bengali film "Paribortan" (translation: Transformation) was released in 1949. "Mahabharati" released in 1994 was the last of his 41 Bengali films.

Melodious Songs By 'Salilda'

Salilda's debute in the Hindi Film Industry came in 1953 as the Music Director for Do Bigha Zamin by Bimal Roy. The film was the cinematic version of Salil Chowdhury's short story named "Ricksawala". It also took his career to new heights when it became the first film to win the Filmfare Best Movie Award and won the international Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

After about 20 years in Bengali and Hindi films, Salilda entered Malayalam films in 1964 with Chemmeen. Almost all of his Malayalam songs became popular irrespective of the performance of the films they were made for. He went on to compose for over 75 Hindi films, over 40 Bengali films, around 26 Malayalam films, and several Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Oriya and Assamese films. Salilda's music showed an equally rich blend of Western and Indian classical music. Some of his straight adaptations of Western Classical Music include

"Itana na mujhse tu pyar badha" from Chhaya - based on Mozart's Symphony No. 40
"Raaton ke saaye ghane" from Annadata - based on works by Chopin

Salil Chowdhury was married to Jyoti Chowdhury on July 14, 1952 in Kolkata. He is survived by his wife Jyoti and three daughters Aloka, Tulika and Lipika. Later he was also married to singer Sabita Chowdhury, with whom he had two daughters, the more famous one being the singer Antara Chowdhury. Sabita sacrificed a promising singing career by restricting her singing to only songs written by her husband.

Salil's music was a unique blending of the Eastern and the Western music traditions. He had once said: 'I want to create a style which shall transcend borders - a genre which is emphatic and polished, but never predictable'. Salil's love for Western classical music started when he was a young boy growing up in an Assam tea garden where his father worked as a doctor.

His daily life was surrounded by the sound of the forest, chirping of the birds, sound of the flute and the local folk-music. This left a lasting impression in young Salil. He became an excellent self-taught flute player and his favourite composer was Mozart. His compositions often used folk melodies or melodies based on Indian classical ragas but the orchestration was very much western in its construction. He developed a unique style which was immediately identifiable

Awards :-
1958 - Filmfare Best Music Director Award for Madhumati
1988 - Sangeet Natak Akademi Award