Salil Chowdhury-Legend in Indian Music-A Tribute

“One of the seven notes of music is lost forever.” These are words uttered by the late Naushad when he heard of the sad demise of poet, lyricist, composer, instrumentalist Salil Chowdhury.

Feature: SALIL CHOWDHURY-a tribute to the legend from Calcutta Tube.

Salil-Chowdhury-Legend in Indian Music
Salil-Chowdhury-Legend in Indian Music

One of the seven notes of music is lost forever.” These are words uttered by the late Naushad when he heard of the sad demise of poet, lyricist, composer, instrumentalist Salil Chowdhury. So shocked was Lata Mangeshkar that she went into seclusion for three days, refusing to speak to the media or anyone else. This is what she had to say about this genius called Salil Chowdhury. “Over my more than six decades as playback singer, I have sung under more than 100 music composers. I can count around ten who really understood music and films and knew the precise demands a given situation, film or script demanded from a given song. Salil-da is one of the best even among these ten. His music was distanced from the music of any other composer. He was unique in the sense of his academic and intellectual command over every school of music – folk music of Bengal, Western classical, everything. Before shifting from Kolkata to Mumbai, Salil-da had disappeared for three months. He spent those months in some remote, little-known villages searching for folk music and to familiarize himself with their lyrics and their music. He also knew about the folk music of other Indian states. He had blended the strains of folk music and classical music beautifully. He would experiment to get just the right note and the right beat for just one song minus sleep or food for nights together. He would then decide on which fusion he would use and which ones he would reject. I have sung to his compositions for two decades. I had never met a music composer like him ever before.”

Salil-Chowdhury-Legendary-Music-Director
Salil-Chowdhury-Legendary-Music-Director

Much before A.R. Rahman appeared on the musical map of world music, before ‘fusion’ entered into the vocabulary of Indian music, before Bangla bands turned fusion into a fashion statement, these musical genres were already imbibed into, created, merged, and made immortal by Salil Chowdhury. His death in Kolkata on September 05, 1995, ended the life of one of the greatest creative poets, lyricists, writers and music composers of all time. His contribution to music reaches far beyond the confines of film music in different Indian languages. He gave birth to music for songs for the masses, he set long Bengali poems by noted poets to music, he wrote his own songs that carried powerful resonances of his revolutionary spirit like Gaanyer Bodhu, he constantly experimented with tonal variations in melody and rhythm, he scored the background music for several films when the music for the songs was scored by another music director. Salil Chowdhury is perhaps the first music director to have done the background score without giving the music for the songs of the same film.  He could grasp the situation, the storyline and the emotions of a given sequence so well that very often, he created a music track that was distinctively his own irrespective of whether he composed the songs for the same film or not. It began with Bimal Roy’s Devdas where, though S.D. Burman composed the music for the songs, Roy asked Salil-da to compose the background music. Later B.R.Chopra asked Salil to compose the background music for Kanoon while Ravi was the regular music director under the Chopra banner. Kanoon was a songless film, but it is remembered for its phenomenal background music. Since then Salil-da composed the background music for a large number of Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil films and also for quite a few Documentary films for the Films Division of India.

[ReviewAZON asin=”B002RT72XU” display=”inlinepost”] The year of his birth is a matter of dispute. But according to official records Salil-da was born on 19th November 1923 in Gajipur village in 24 Parganas, West Bengal. He grew up in Assam where his father, a doctor, worked in a tea estate. A departing Irish doctor had given away a gramophone and a large number of Western classical records to Salil-da’s father. This is how he imbibed a deep love for Western classical music. As he listened everyday to Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Chopin, the soundtrack outside was filled with the mystique notes of the trees in the forest, the chirping of birds, the melody of the flute and the folk songs of Assam and other northern areas. He learnt to play the flute beautifully. Much later, when he became a revolutionary during India’s struggle for freedom, Salil-da carried his flute all the time, playing on it whenever he felt like it. Mozart was his personal favourite.

Ironically, Salil-da was forced to choose music as his vocation. One among eight brothers and sisters, Salil-da’s family fell on bad days because his father quit his tea estate job to migrate to Kolkata. His eldest brother, who worked in the railways in Lamding, could not help out because he had to support his own family on his meager earnings. His father’s retirement benefits were nothing to speak about. Then his father passed away and Salil-da’s world came crashing down. There were medical costs of his bedridden mother to be taken care of apart from the education of his little brothers and sisters and the family expenses on a day-to-day basis. Destiny forced him to transform a passion into a commercial proposition. Strange indeed, are the ways of life. This personal tragedy later turned into a milestone in the history of music in India. It gave birth to a musical genius of all time who created immortal musical compositions and even defined a completely new genre of music calls gana sangeet or mass songs of awakening and protest no one had ever heard of before in our country. Salil-da’s journey through his life and his journey through his music are so mingled into one another that it is impossible to separate the one from the other. Never before had a single person’s contribution through music and song had helped resurrect the Communist Party from total collapse. Salil-da’s music made this an unimaginable reality.

He was a person with strong political convictions and social conscience. He graduated from Bangabashi College in Kolkata. During his college life, his political ideologies and his ideas about music went hand in hand. His first-hand observation of World War II, the Bengal Famine and the impact of these on the masses turned him into a socially responsible young man. He joined the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and also became an active member of the Communist Party. The IPTA took the songs he composed to the masses, travelling through cities and villages of West Bengal. They were songs of protest that tried to raise awareness among the people about the rampant injustices they were being subjected to in different ways. Sadly, quite a few of these songs from the 1940s that were never recorded are lost to history. He recorded a 50-voice choir for Delhi Doordarshan in the 1990s and asked his old comrade Yogesh to translate some of them into Hindi. These songs remain all-time favourites. The songs mausam beeta jaaye and hariyala saawan dhol bajata aaya in Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin are examples of this mood of protest and rebellion. These mass songs became embedded into the independence movement. They are still performed across Bengal and Bangladesh and are an integral part of the average Bengali’s musical identity.

Another unique contribution of Salil-da was his ability to set long poems to music. Satyendranath Dutta, a post-Tagorean modern poet, had a long poem. No one ever imagined that it could become a song if put to tune. Salil-da did it. Palkir Gaan, sung by Hemanta Mukhopadhyay wrote a new chapter in the history of Bengali music. He also set to music a long story-poem called Runner penned by the famous revolutionary poet Sukanta Bhattacharya. These two songs offer two separate studies in modern music compositions. Tagore had set the trend but Salil-da’s music and the poems themselves were filled with elements one had never encountered before in terms of the poems chosen, the melodies they were blended into and the structural modalities. Filled with variations in tempo, mood, resonance and rhythm, these songs are musical delights enriched by rich visual imagery that captures the shifting moods within both songs. His composition of Runner that narrates the tragic life story of a village postman before the invention of the railways, or mechanized transport, has often been compared to a serious symphony, albeit, on a limited scale than that explored in a symphony because it was a single poem being composed and not an orchestra.

Salil-da was an outstanding composer, an accomplished and gifted arranger, poet, writer and intellectual. He had a deep understanding of other instruments he needed for his creative repertoire. Even a pioneer of Hindi film music like the late Jaikishen referred to him as ‘the genius.’ “He can play almost any instrument he lays his hands on from the tabla to the sarod, from the piano to the piccolo” said Raj Kapoor once. He could also play the flute and the esraj, a stringed instrument. Since Do Bigha Zameen, Salil-da composed music for over 75 Hindi films, around 26 Malayalam films and several Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati and Assamese films. He became famous as the most non-conformist composer of the time whose relentless search for perfection towered above everything else. He chose Mukesh to lend his voice to Rajesh Khanna in one song number for Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand. The number, maine tere liye yeh saat rang ke sapne chuney song is an example of how Salil-da could bring out the best in one of the most under-rated playback singers in Hindi films. We heard a different Mukesh under the baton of Salil-da in that famous song from Madhumatisuhana safar aur yeh mausam haseen.

Towards the end of his life, he translated the lyrics of around 10 compositions by the Beatles and in Bengali and recorded them. His second wife Sabita Chowdhury and their daughters Antara and Sanchari sang the songs. Those who have heard the songs say that Salil-da was totally faithful to the original sheet music. He had said that he found their compositions very interesting. He added though, that before releasing them, one needed to think again. They were never released.  “He remains the only music composer till this day who could write the lyrics, compose the music, organize, compose and direct the music arrangement, conduct the orchestra, rehearse and record all at the same time,” says Bhanu Gupta who worked with him as master harmonica player and assistant for three decades. “He could change a beat, a tune, a melody in the sanchaari or the alaap or mukhda of any song, or even an entire song if the singer found it difficult to perform in say, half an hour,” says noted guitarist Soumitra Chatterjee.

Salil-da as poet and composer was not as prolific as Tagore because he wrote and composed around 250 songs over his lifetime. What makes him stand out is that he had the rare expertise and command over every kind of music one can imagine. He was well versed in Indian Classical music, Western Classical Music, the folk music of India, revolutionary songs from across the world, symphonies and choral music, Marxian aesthetics and philosophy. Anyone wishing to familiarize himself with the creative compositions of Salil-da must first acquaint himself with all these schools of music at least in theory if not in practice,” says Sri Pranab Dasgupta, founder-director of Jeebonshilpi, an organization involved totally in researching the compositions and writings of Salil Chowdhury. Jeebonshilpi has its own choral group that sings the master’s compositions.

Veteran singer-composer-music teacher Abhijeet Bandopadhyay, a close associate of Salil-da, draws comparisons between Tagore’s and Salil-da’s music. “Tagore converted the destructive implications of elements like fire, storm and Shiva’s tandava dance into tranquil spaces through songs like aaguner poroshmoni, or, as odes to Nature through songs like neel digantey. Tagore focussed on the sublime because his belief was that conflict is not always destructive. But Salil-da was exactly his opposite. He used the same elements in his compositions as aggression against the human race. His beats carry the resonance of almost tangible emotions. His kee kori number expresses his state of constant restlessness, of feeling disturbed at all times. He believed that music demanded 24/7 dedication. Many of his songs composed with the labour class in mind incorporate beats that resemble the running of a machine. He was not against the machine per se. He was against the exploitation of the labourer who was replaced by his employer by the machine.”

Without the slightest trace of doubt, one can state that till date, Salil Chowdhury remains the most versatile musician in Indian cinema. Connoisseurs of music insist that he was a non-conformist music composer who never stopped searching for new kinds of music, orchestral, tonal and beat variations qualified by his meticulous attention to detail, a scrupulous ear for the right musical content he was looking for and a ceaseless and untiring desire for improvisation. Two years before his death, in an interview to The Telegraph, Salil-da had said, “My idea of perfect happiness is my ability to compose a musical note that will unite my countrymen and inspire them to make India one among the world’s leading nations.”

By Shoma A. Chatterji

To Learn More about Salilda, please visit http://salilda.com

15 thoughts on “Salil Chowdhury-Legend in Indian Music-A Tribute

  1. he also wrote the script of an amazing rajesh khanna movie- Naukri , dir hrishida and also with raj kapur.read about it in one of the posts in rajesh khanna forum topix.net

  2. Shoma Chatterjee is well-known for copying and pasting material from the web and publish them under her name. Her own knowledge about Salilda in nihil and this article is no exception. Last year summer in one of her articles she made several glaring faux pas. May be she didn’t copy or understand the facts very well. Today I noticed large chunks of text have been copied from salilda.com.
    It is a shame really. She hasn’t added anything new to what is already published.

  3. I am shocked really. Because I am one of the few mainstream people, not from the world of music, or cinema, who knew Salil Choudhury personally as a child and during my growing up years. I also went to his home in Mumbai several times with my mother. He kept open house and many people simply came and began to stay there from Kolkata. We parted company when his marriage went through those traumatic years and finally broke down though Jyoti Mami never went in for divorce.

    I have been familiar with all his peak year compositions such as Poth Harabo Bolei Ebaar Pothey Nemechhi, Duranto Ghurnir, etc. and though I am not a music person, can quote some of them like Ganyer Bodhu from memory. His lyrics and music have been part of my growing up years. I have been gifted a photograph of him which is kept in my living room along with photographs of Satyajit Ray and Hritwik Ghatak. I am a true and lifelong devotee of Indian cinema.

    The article in which I made an error last year which the writer refers to, was liked very much by Sabita Choudhury and in fact, she found out my telephone number and called me up to correct the error and also compliment me for the article which was actually a report on a tributary night to Salil Choudhury held at Uttam Mancha which I went on invitation to cover for the said paper.

    I have been gifted a book in Bengali on Salil Choudhury edited by one of his greatest devotees in this state that covers everything from his childhood years till his passing away. That was my main frame of reference since you cannot write an article on a man who is no more on the basis of direct interviews. I knew Jyoti Mamima, his wife very well personally and even met her in Kolkata at a film show that screened a documentary on Bimal Roy at Nandan II. I also personally knew Bhanu Gupta as a young girl and he happens to be married to a friend of mine who studied in the same school as I did.

    I also followed an interview of Salil Choudhury done by DD in its Black-and-White years where he talks at length about Western classical music, about how music can have a great impact on a film like Battelship Potemkin which was silent in the beginning but had background music added when sound came in. But the music added so much effect to the total film that it was banned in its own country!

    FD made a very good documentary on Salil Choudhury and I have seen this documentary twice over the years.

    The comments by Abhijeet Bandopadhyay, Pranab Dasgupta, Soumitra Chatterjee (guitarist) are original. The biography, I am sorry, cannot and should not be fictionalized.

    Last, but never the least, I have survived as a successful freelancer over the past 30 years in India. Freelancing is a highly competitive market. I began professionally when there was no electronic typewriter much less computer, e-mail or the INTERNET. So, my having become ‘famous’ for cutting and pasting pieces from the NET does not really arise though everyone does refer to the NET from time to time and I do too sometimes.

    Mr. Prithviraj, if you live in India, is most welcome to visit my home in Kolkata to take a look at the massive documentation library of newspaper and magazine clippings which I am now slowly in the process of disposing off. This the backbone of my research. I would like to modestly point out that no journalist can write without research and research means reading what other people have written on a given subject before you have to get an insight into the subject you are writing on. To give your article more depth and feeling.

    I am one of the few film critics in India who never walks out of a film before it ends, never mind how terrible it is. If ever I do it for some reason, I do not write its review. Talking of film reviews, I would like to learn from Mr.Prithviraj how to ‘copy and paste’ original reviews from the NET! I am at it for more than three decades now.

    I am 66 and belong to a generation that places honesty, integrity and hard work above money, fame and power.

    I won my first National Award in 1991 when the question of NET copying did not arise as the NET was an unknown quantity in people’s homes at that time. I have authored 17 published books till date of which five are biographies of cinema celebrities and I have been told they are doing very well in the market. How can you ever write about a great man without referring to things already written about him in the past? I won my second National Award in 2003 for my book on the films of Aparna Sen and it is the first auteur criticism on an Indian woman director so there could have been any copying and pasting!

    I am still the only Indian woman to have won the National Award twice, one as critic and one as author. I really do not think all this is possible by ‘copying an pasting’ from the NET.

    How can one win so many awards and gain respect for oneself after 30 long years? How can one do one’s Ph.D. in History (Indian Cinema) at the age of 64? All by “cutting and pasting from the NET”?

    How can one win three senior and prestigious research fellowships without any backdoor entry – and I am truly proud about this, unless one has worked very very hard to convince a panel of highly qualified academia? I have a M.A. in Economics and also have another Masters in Education all gained at a time when there were no computers or even electronic typewriters or dictaphones. No Internet either, naturally.

    Sorry, Mr. Prthiviraj, but you seem to have a chip on your shoulder!

  4. Dear Mrs Chatterjee

    I have read your articles for quite some time, you being a regular contributor to The Statesman and IIRC, the Telegraph (some film magazines as well). While I have found your writing style lucid and reader friendly, I feel that music / facts / trivia have never ever been your strength. You may have hordes of newspaper cuttings in your library, but that hardly makes any difference to leveraging your knowledge data base and knitting a composite out of the same . I am not going into the details as to how you took inspiration from various sources including salilda.com for this particular story, but citing two examples of your carelessness / lack of basic knowledge.

    1.You should have at least checked the spellings of Ritwick Ghatak (“Hritwik” Ghatak in your mail) and Salil Chowdhury (you have written Salil “Choudhury”) before sending the SOS kind of a retort to Prithviraj. Being in the profession of journalism, you surely cannot afford to make such basic mistakes. Please read ‘Our films their films’ and appreciate how Ray has taken pains to spell eachand every name properly – even demarcating between a Sahni (Balraj) and a Shahani (Kumar). He too did not have the internet. I don’t think he had a library religiously stacked with newspaper and magazine cuttings either.

    In an article around six months back, you had cited an accident as the reason behind Salil’s death. Surely that is not quite acceptable from a veteran like you who, as you have claimed, knew Salil and his family including his wife Jyoti di personally.

    Please do not take offence. We readers except better quality research from journalists of your era as we look up to your generation for inspiration. And as I have mentioned, I have been an avid reader of your columns when I was a student.

    I am from Calcutta, and would love to go through the documentation you have / are planning to part with. Do let me know if you wish to share the same :).

    BTW, these lines , which you have taken from salilda.com – Even a pioneer of Hindi film music like the late Jaikishen referred to him as ‘the genius.’ “He can play almost any instrument he lays his hands on from the tabla to the sarod, from the piano to the piccolo” said Raj Kapoor once- was published in the cover story in the Saturday Statesman around the 3rd week of September 1995 – written by Yours truly . This is something that Salil da told me when I, as a starry-eyed-fan in my early twenties , had been to his place at Fern Road – think it was early or mid 1988.

    Can you kindly check if you have the cutting with you – I have lost it and would like to retrieve it.

    Warm regards
    Anirudha Bhattacharjee

  5. Dear Mr. Bhattacharjee,

    Points noted. The spelling of Ritwik was not correct and I noticed it the minute I sent off the mail. But it was done in a moment of emotional shock.

    Thanks for comparing me with the great Satyajit Ray because I am really a minute drop in the massive ocean of humanity if one is to compare me with this genius of all time.

    I was not in Kolkata when Salil-Mama passed away and I met him at the MAMI festival in Mumbai when he could not recognize me and I had to introduce myself to him again. He had not seen for more than three decades. This mistake was already pointed out to me by Sabita Mami but she also added that she really liked my article and wanted to meet me personally which has not happened till date because of my ill health.

    I do not have the clipping you are referring to because I arrived in Kolkata only in July 1995 and was still living in Mumbai half the time, so kept Mumbai clippings for some time before switching over to clippings from Kolkata newspapers.

    Music is not my forte, so you will rarely find me writing on music or music people. I did the Salil piece because I feel emotionally close and I truly cherish his compositions. So, even when editors ask me to do something on music, I decline. I specialise in cinema, human rights and in gender issues, which you must be aware of.

    Thanks for the tone of your letter though in spirit, you do not seem to have respect for my work. That is fine because one has to take the brickbats along with the bouquets. Fortunately, in my case, there have been more of the latter.

    Please feel free to contact me because I might want to share some clippings with you but not the cinema ones right now. You must find your own sources to contact me – I am very accessible – because I cannot publish my contact details here.

    This is the last time I will be commenting around this debate.

    Warmly.

  6. Dear Mrs Chatterjee

    Thanks for replying. As you have expressed interest in sharing your collection but are kind of reluctant to share your details here, would be thankful if you can take the pain to send me a mail at anibhat@gmail.com (anibhat at-the-rate gmail dot com) From there we can take it forward. (This site prohibits form leaving phone nos in posts, else I could have shared it too).

    It is not that I do not have respect for your work. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your stories in the past, and have expressed the same in my previous mail. Hence the reason why I am slightly puzzled about the lack of proper backup details in your current stories. I am a stickler for details and facts (mostly when it is about certain people whose body of work I adore – like Salil Chowdhury, Rahul Dev Burman, Madan Mohan, Kishore Kumar, Satyajit Ray, among many others )and incorrect facts do create a feeling which I cannot define as pleasant.

    Nothing personal here, we are all human beings and we all make mistakes. As long as the love for the person is there, everything else takes a backseat 🙂

    Take care and have a nice day

    Warm regards
    Anirudha Bhattacharjee

  7. Dear Anirudha,

    Your e-mail ID is not working. I tried to send you a mail but it refuses to go.

    Warmly,

    shoma a. chatterji

  8. Dear Ms. Chatterji,

    A couple of days ago I received an email from Calcuttatube’s Ankan Basu who asked me if I could place a link to your article in my website salilda.com. Only after reading your article and the reactions to your article I decided to write.
    Like you I thought that Prithviraj could have been a little more polite. But your long and angry outburst to his comments really shocked and surprised me. Later Anirudha made similar comments – but politely. I guess between them they have made their point.
    I read your article on Salilda published last year in which you said the Salilda died in a car-crash and that was heavily criticised in the SalilC Yahoo Group, a Salil Chowdhury online discussion group.
    I hosted salilda.com in 1998 after several years of research. Since then it took me many years of hard work and many visits to India to search for new material and authenticate the facts. I am still continuing.
    I still find new facts about Salilda’s music and his writings. Salilda seems to be endless. However I don’t know how long I can continue due to my advancing age (I am older than you). I have now given all my collection to Rabindra Bharati University for the Salil Chowdhury -Archive which they have recently started.
    You say that you know Jyotidi. May be you could have asked her or Salilda’s brother Babuda (Samir Choudhury)for Salilda’s correct year of birth. It is 1922.
    Salilda had also composed music for 45 Bengali films. I think you somehow missed that information.
    I wrote about the Beatles songs in 1998 in the news section of salilda.com. . Salilda gave me those songs in 1988 while I was visiting him at Akash Deep. Nobody knew about this. But I guess you have seen this in salilda.com/news.asp. I remember telling him that Michael Jackson is now the owner of the copyright so he should be very careful before releasing these songs. Ultimately he didn’t.

    Lastly, if you insist on quoting musicians who knew or worked with Salilda please talk to the people who were really associated and worked closely with him They are not Bhanu Gupta or Soumitra Chatterjee or Pranab Dasgupta. Surely Salilda deserves better. Bhanuda was associated with R.D Burman for 25 years and not Salilda (ask Anirudha or any RDB fan). Unless of course Bhanuda lived in a parallel universe ! Soumitra wasn’t a musician with Salilda’s group either. He also claims to have been with R.D Burman and nobody really knows Pranab Dasgupta ! You could have talked to Manohari Singh (since mid ’50s) or Goutam Ghosh of Rabindra Bharati or Y.S.Mulkey (since late ’50s) or Tapas Bhowmick or Buddha Ganguly (since ’70s) etc who have worked closely with Salilda over the last 40 years. That would have been much more authentic.

    I do respect your passionate dedication to your profession and your wide experience. I am sure you also respect the hard work done by other journalists and web developers like me. Numerous people have copied from salilda.com and I can’t stop them. However, I always hope that someone, someday, just by accident, will say “courtesy: salilda.com”

    May be I should stop hoping.

    I sincerely hope that with my comments I have not upset you. I would not survive another outburst !

    If you still want to communicate with me please write to fmajor7 at gmail dot com.

    Kind regards.

    Gautam Choudhury
    Netherlands

    1. Dear Gautam Babu,

      As you have rightly said, Salil-da is endless. If I had written a book, all that you have said would apply truly. But people like Bhanu Gupta, Swapan Dasgupta, etc practically lived with Salil-da in his flat in Mumbai to learn from him directly.

      I am deeply grateful for Salil-da.com for some of the inputs. Pranab Dasgupta and Abhijeet Bandopadhyay were very young when Salil-da was involved in Kolkata with his Gono Sangeet. and Mr. Dasgupta actually has formed a music organization as a tribute to Salil-da’s memory somewhere in the suburbs where the members keep on practicing and researching his music, poetry and songs. They are really doing some good work.

      My direct contact with Salil-da and all who knew him was in Mumbai when he lived there with his first family. I always respect people who dedicate themselves to websites like the one you have founded. I was angry with Prithviraj because he openly said that I was ‘famous’ for copying from the NET though I am writing for 30 years. I was hurt by the tone of the letter and just as he accused me of not backing my writing with proper research, he did the same by accusing me without researching my profile, that is all.

      Everyone makes mistakes and I am no exception. I should have been more careful and my source was the well-edited book on Salil-da that Mr. Dasgupta gifted me with.

      Thanks for your comments anyway.

  9. Soma di you are great.

    Comment Edited by Ankan:
    Comment should be constructive even when you are criticizing. No abusive language at CalcuttaTube which leads us to no where. Be polite and respectful while commenting.

  10. Salilda , I remember with tears in my eyes
    now I am drafting this mail I can hear the song “Madaprave va” (malayalam”) wafting through the air from the distance.
    I Wish the author has done research more deeply . The information, nothing more available than SALIL C GROUPS.SALILDA’S songs composed 30 or so years back are still enjoyed by the people
    with the same interest.

  11. I immensely enjoyed the article on Salil Chowdhury by Shoma Chatterji. Any thing written about greatness of Salilda is always like Salilda’s music to ears.

  12. Dear Gautam Babu,
    As you have rightly said, Salil-da is endless. If I had written a book, all that you have said would apply truly. But people like Bhanu Gupta, Swapan Dasgupta, etc practically lived with Salil-da in his flat in Mumbai to learn from him directly.
    I am deeply grateful for Salil-da.com for some of the inputs. Pranab Dasgupta and Abhijeet Bandopadhyay were very young when Salil-da was involved in Kolkata with his Gono Sangeet. and Mr. Dasgupta actually has formed a music organization as a tribute to Salil-da’s memory somewhere in the suburbs where the members keep on practicing and researching his music, poetry and songs. They are really doing some good work.
    My direct contact with Salil-da and all who knew him was in Mumbai when he lived there with his first family. I always respect people who dedicate themselves to websites like the one you have founded. I was angry with Prithviraj because he openly said that I was ‘famous’ for copying from the NET though I am writing for 30 years. I was hurt by the tone of the letter and just as he accused me of not backing my writing with proper research, he did the same by accusing me without researching my profile, that is all.
    Everyone makes mistakes and I am no exception. I should have been more careful and my source was the well-edited book on Salil-da that Mr. Dasgupta gifted me with.
    Thanks for your comments anyway.

    Dear Mrs Chatterjee
    I have read your articles for quite some time, you being a regular contributor to The Statesman and IIRC, the Telegraph (some film magazines as well). While I have found your writing style lucid and reader friendly, I feel that music / facts / trivia have never ever been your strength. You may have hordes of newspaper cuttings in your library, but that hardly makes any difference to leveraging your knowledge data base and knitting a composite out of the same . I am not going into the details as to how you took inspiration from various sources including salilda.com for this particular story, but citing two examples of your carelessness / lack of basic knowledge.
    1.You should have at least checked the spellings of Ritwick Ghatak (“Hritwik” Ghatak in your mail) and Salil Chowdhury (you have written Salil “Choudhury”) before sending the SOS kind of a retort to Prithviraj. Being in the profession of journalism, you surely cannot afford to make such basic mistakes. Please read ‘Our films their films’ and appreciate how Ray has taken pains to spell eachand every name properly – even demarcating between a Sahni (Balraj) and a Shahani (Kumar). He too did not have the internet. I don’t think he had a library religiously stacked with newspaper and magazine cuttings either.
    In an article around six months back, you had cited an accident as the reason behind Salil’s death. Surely that is not quite acceptable from a veteran like you who, as you have claimed, knew Salil and his family including his wife Jyoti di personally.
    Please do not take offence. We readers except better quality research from journalists of your era as we look up to your generation for inspiration. And as I have mentioned, I have been an avid reader of your columns when I was a student.
    I am from Calcutta, and would love to go through the documentation you have / are planning to part with. Do let me know if you wish to share the same .
    BTW, these lines , which you have taken from salilda.com – Even a pioneer of Hindi film music like the late Jaikishen referred to him as ‘the genius.’ “He can play almost any instrument he lays his hands on from the tabla to the sarod, from the piano to the piccolo” said Raj Kapoor once- was published in the cover story in the Saturday Statesman around the 3rd week of September 1995 – written by Yours truly . This is something that Salil da told me when I, as a starry-eyed-fan in my early twenties , had been to his place at Fern Road – think it was early or mid 1988.
    Can you kindly check if you have the cutting with you – I have lost it and would like to retrieve it.
    Warm regards
    Anirudha Bhattacharjee

Leave a Reply to Shibashis Mukherjee Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *