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Salil Chowdhury
Image of Salil Chowdhury
Salil Chowdhury (1922-1995)
Background information
Birth name Salil Chowdhury
Also known as Salil da
Born September 19, 1922(1922-09-19)[1]
Origin Chingripotha, 24 Parganas district,
West Bengal, India[1]
Died September 5, 1995 (aged 72)
Occupations Music Director, Composer, Poet, Lyricist and Story-writer

Salil Chowdhury (Bengali: সলিল চৌধুরী, Hindi: सलिल चौधरी, Malayalam: സലില്‍ ചൗധരി) was a famous Bengali,Bollywood,Tamil,Malayalam and Telugu composer, poet and a playwright. He is fondly and reverently called Salil da in[1] the Indian film industry.

His musical genius was widely recognized[1] 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[1] for his inspirational and original poetry.



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[citation needed]. Salil chowdhury was a resident of subhasgram (previously known as Chingripota) in Kolkata suburbs, a place famous for being the paternal house of Subhas Chandra Bose.[citation needed].

Married to Jyoti Chowdhury on July 14, 1952 in Kolkata.



Early influences

Salil's childhood was spent[1] in the tea gardens of Assam. From an early age he listened to the Western Classical collection of his father[1]. His father was reputed[2] to stage plays with coolies and other low-paid workers of the tea-gardens. He graduated from Bangabashi[2] 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.

In 1944, a young Salil came to Calcutta for his graduate studies. He joined the IPTA[1] (Indian Peoples Theater Association) the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India. He started writing songs[1] and setting tunes for them [1]. 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[1] 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[1]. 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.

Film career

His first Bengali film "Paribortan" (translation: Transformation) was released in 1949. "Mahabharati" released in 1994 was the last of his 41 Bengali films.

Salil da's debute in the Hindi Film Industry came in 1953[1] 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"[1]. 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, Salil da entered Malayalam films in 1964 with Chemmeen[1]. 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.

The western influence

Salil da's music showed an equally rich blend of Western and Indian classical music.

Some of his straight adaptations of Western Classical Music include


He is survived by his wife Jyoti Chowdhury, his daughters Alaka, Tulika and Lipika.

Quotes on Salil Chowdhury

  • When Salil and I sat together by the piano and heard his compositions, I was overwhelmed by a divine feeling that his music brought and I have never felt this magnitude of divinity in any other composer’s music. - Noted playback singer KJ Yesudas.
  • He can play almost any instrument he lays his hands on, from the tabla to the sarod, from the piano to the piccolo - Raj Kapoor.
  • Salil Choudhury is the best elevator of Indian Folk Music. - Pudovkin
  • Salil knew the grammar of songs.Thus it wasn't difficult for him to bring out the progress of grammar by violating the grammar. - Mrinal Sen.
  • Salilbabu was a member of the Communist Party and he struck to its principles. He was the composer of the composers.One of the seven notes of music has been lost - Naushad.
  • In the context of Bengali songs,the emergence of Salil marked the beginning of new era in our country after Rabindranath-Najrul. - Suchitra Mitra


Awards and recognitions

See also


External links


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