Salil Chowdhury

Salil Chowdhury
সলিল চৌধুরী

Image of Salil Chowdhury

Salil Chowdhury (1923–1995)
Background information
Birth name Salil Chowdhury
Also known as Sholil-da
Born (1923-11-19)19 November 1923
Harinavi, 24 Parganas, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died 5 September 1995(1995-09-05) (aged 71)
Calcutta, West Bengal, India
Occupation(s) Music director, composer, poet, lyricist & story-writer

Salil Chowdhury (Bengali: সলিল চৌধুরী; 'Sholil Choudhuri' in phonetic Wiki-Bengali; 19 November 1923[1] – 5 September 1995) was an Indian music composer, who mainly composed for Bengali, Hindi and Malayalam films. He was also a poet and a playwright. He is affectionately called Salilda by his admirers.

His musical ability was widely recognised[2] and acknowledged in the Indian film industry. He was an accomplished composer and arranger who was proficient in several musical instruments, including flute, the piano, and the esraj. He was also widely acclaimed and admired[2] for his inspirational and original poetry in Bengali.


Early influences

Salil Chowdhury was born on 19 November 1925[3]in a village called Harinavi in West Bengal. Salil's childhood was spent in the tea gardens region of Assam.[2] From an early age he listened to the Western Classical collection of his father.[2] His father was reputed to stage plays with coolies and other low-paid workers of the tea-gardens. He studied in Harinavi D.V.A.S High School and there after graduated from Bangabasi College, affiliated to the University of Calcutta in Kolkata, and during this period his political ideas were formulated 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[2] (Indian Peoples Theater Association) the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India. He started writing songs[2] and setting tunes for them.[2] The IPTA theatrical outfit travelled through the villages and the cities bringing these songs to the common man. Songs like Bicharpati, Runner and Abak prithibi[2] 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.[2] Almost every notable singer at the time from West Bengal had sung at least one of his songs. A few examples are Debabrata Biswas, Hemanta Mukherjee, Shyamal Mitra, Sandhya Mukherjee, Manabendra Mukherjee, Subir Sen and Pratima Banerjee.

Film career

His first Bengali film "Paribortan" ("Transformation") was released in 1949.The singer of his debut song was Debabrata Biswas. "Mahabharati" released in 1994 was the last of his 41 Bengali films.

Salil da's debut in the Hindi Film Industry came in 1953[2] as the Music Director for Do Bigha Zamin (based on Tagore's poem/narrative by the same name, but the story was different, story was written by Salil Chowdhury himself) Directed by Bimal Roy 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.[2]

He went on to compose for over 75 Hindi films, over 40 Bengali films, around 27 Malayalam films, and a few Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Oriya and Assamese films.


Salil Chowdhury was married to Jyoti Chowdhury (who lives at Bandra in Mumbai, with whom he had two daughters) and later he married to Sabita Chowdhury also, with whom he has two daughters Antara, Sanchari and two son Sanjoy Chowdhury and Bobby Chowdhury. Sanjoy Chowdhury is a successful music composer himself and scored music for over a 100 feature films. Sabita Chaowdhury was a singer and their daughter, Antara is currently a performing artist. She recently sang for Music Director Shantanu Moitra's hit movie Khoya Khoya Chand in a duet with Sonu Nigam. Hindi and Bengali singles from the album have been released on the iTunes Music Store worldwide. These include in Hindi, "kyon beheke hain / stranger" and "chale ayona / so far away" with lyrics by Yogesh and music by Sanjoy Chowdhury and in Bengali, "esho boshona / sit beside me" and "dur ojanate / far away" with lyrics by Salil Chowdhury and Tarun respectively and music by Sanjoy Chowdhury.


Salil's music was a blending of 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". He dabbled in a lot of things and it was his ambition to achieve greatness in everything he did. But at times, his confusion was fairly evident: "I do not know what to opt for: poetry, story writing, orchestration or composing for films. I just try to be creative with what fits the moment and my temperament", he once told a journalist.

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 father inherited a large number of western classical records and a gramophone from a departing Irish doctor. While Salil listened to Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, and others everyday, his daily life was surrounded by the sound of the forest, chirping of the birds, sound of the flute and the local folk-music of Assam. This left a lasting impression in young Salil. He became an 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 style which was immediately identifiable.According to his daughter Antara, (Ref.: Ek Fankar @ Vividbharati Radio Programme at 10.00 pm on 19 November 2013), Salil himself joked that he was Mozart, reborn.

Salil being a composing exponent, he even sensed the talent of a guitarist who played in his orchestra and uttered that, "I think he’s going to be the best composer in India".[4] The guitarist eventually turned out to be Maestro Ilaiyaraaja.


Year Title Language Other Notes
1953 Do Bigha Zamin Hindi
1954 Naukari Hindi
1955 Amaanat Hindi
1955 Tangewali Hindi
1956 Parivar Hindi
1955 Ek Din Ratre Bengali
1956 Jagte Raho Hindi
1956 Aawaz Hindi
1957 Apradhi Kaun? Hindi
1957 Ek Gaon Ki Kahani Hindi
1957 Gotoma the Buddha Hindi A documentary film
1957 Lal Batti Hindi
1957 Musafir Hindi
1958 Bari Theke Paliye Bengali
1958 Madhumati Hindi Won – Filmfare Award for Best Music Director
1959 The River Hindi
1960 Parakh Hindi
1960 Honeymoon Hindi
1960 Kanoon Hindi Background Score only.
1960 Usne Kaha Tha Hindi
1961 Kabuliwala Hindi From – Tagore's story Kabuliwala in Begali film 1960
1961 Char Diwari Hindi
1961 Chhaya Hindi
1961 Maya Hindi
1961 Mem-Didi Hindi
1961 Sapne Suhane Hindi
1962 Half Ticket Hindi
1962 Sunbai Marathi
1962 Jhoola Hindi
1962 Prem Patra Hindi – From a Bengali film " Sagarika"
1964 Lal Patthar Hindi – From a Bengali film " Lal Pathar"
1965 Chand Aur Suraj Hindi
1965 Poonam Ki Raat Hindi
1966 Pinjre Ke Panchhi Hindi
1965 Chemmeen Malayalam
1968 Anokhi Raat Hindi Background Score only.
1968 Chehere Hindi TV series
1968 Ezhu Rathrikal Malayalam
1969 IttefaqHindiBackground Score only.
1969 Sara Akash Hindi Background Score only.
1970 Abhayam Malayalam Background Score only.
1970 Aparajeyo Assamese
1971 Anand Hindi
1971 Samshaya Phala Kannada Won – Karnataka State Film Award for Best Music Director
1971 Uyir Tamil Background Score only.
1971 Mere Apne Hindi
1971 Ghar Sansaar Gujarati
1972 Anokha Milan Hindi
1972 Mere Bhaiya Hindi
1972 Sabse Bada Sukh Hindi
1972 Annadata Hindi
1972 Anokha Daan Hindi
1973 Swapnam Malayalam
1973 Achanak Hindi Background Score only.
1973 Karumbu Tamil
1974 Nellu Malayalam
1974 Chairman Chalumayya Telugu
1974 Rajnigandha Hindi
1975 Rasaleela Malayalam
1975 Mausam Hindi Background Score only.
1975 Chhoti Si Baat Hindi
1975 Neela Ponman Malayalam
1975 Onde Roopa Eradu Guna Kannada
1975 Raagam Malayalam
1975 Thomasleeha Malayalam
1976 Jeevan Jyoti Hindi
1976 Thulavarsham Malayalam
1977 Mrigayaa Hindi
1977 Anand Mahal Hindi
1977 Aparadhi Malayalam
1977 Chinna Ninna Muddaduve Kannada
1977 Dweep Malayalam Background score only.
1977 Vishukkani Malayalam
1977 Kokila Kannada
1978 Ee Ganam Marakkumo Malayalam
1978 Madanolsavam Malayalam
1978 Naukri Hindi Background Score only.
Also Story Writer.
1978 Samayamayilla Polum Malayalam
1978 Etho Oru Swapnam Malayalam
1979 Azhiyadha Kolangal Tamil
1979 Chuvanna Chirakukal Malayalam
1979 Kaala Patthar Hindi Background Score only.
1979 Jeena Yahan Hindi
1979 Puthiya Velicham Malayalam
1980 Doorathu Idi Muzhakkam Tamil
1981 Agni Pareeksha Hindi
1981 In Search of Famine Bengali
1981 Chehre Pe Chehra Hindi Background Score only.
1981 Batasi Jhada Oriya
1981 Plot No. 5 Hindi Background Score only.
1984 Kanoon Kya Karega Hindi Background Score only.
1984 Vellam Malayalam Background Score only.
1985 Manas Kanya Assamese
1987 Zevar Hindi Background Score only.
1988 Trishagni Hindi
1989 Aakhri Badla Hindi
1989 Kamla Ki Maut Hindi Background Score only.
1990 Nehru: The Jewel of India Hindi
1991 Vasthuhara Malayalam
1994 Triyacharitra Hindi
1994 Swami Vivekananda (film) Hindi
1995 Thumboli Kadappuram Malayalam
1995 Mera Damad Hindi
1995 Agar Aisa Ho Toh Hindi Television series

Awards and recognitions

See also


  1. International who's who in music and musicians' directory. Melrose Press. 1977. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Chennai, Shaji (20 November 2005). "Flawless harmony in his music". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 September 2009.
  3. Surer Bhuban (6 December 2015). "Salil Chowdhury Long Interview with Kabir Suman Part 2" via YouTube.
  4. "One of a kind". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 August 2012.

Further reading

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