Neetal wrote on 11 Aug 2008
SALIL CHOWDHURY was a famous Bengali composer and poet. He was born on November 19, 1923 and died on September 5, 1995, just before his 72nd birthday. He spent his early childhood in Harinavi village. Much of Salil Chowdhury's early childhood was spent in the tea gardens of Assam, where his father was a medical doctor. He spent his childhood in listening to the Western Classical collection of his father, which shaped his musical thinking. Salil's father was reputed to stage plays with coolies and other low-paid workers of the tea-gardens. His father's strong anti-British feelings and constant concern for the condition of the tea-estate workers were a source of inspiration to him. 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. His wife name is Sabita Banerjee.
He became acutely aware of his social responsibilities, living through the Second World War, the Bengal famine and the precarious political situation of the 1940s. This is when he joined the IPTA (Indian Peoples Theatre Association) and became a member of the Communist Party of India. During this period he wrote numerous songs and, together with IPTA, took them to the masses. The theatrical outfit travelled through the villages and the cities and his songs became exceptionally popular and went on to become the voice of the masses. These songs were influential, echoing protest and human empowerment, that made people conscious of the rampant social injustice surrounding them. He called these songs the 'Songs of consciousness and awakening'. These compositions became ringing songs of cheer during India’s Independence movement and, interestingly, are still performed all over Bengal. The people of West Bengal where thrilled with the new wave of music introduced by Salil Chowdhury. For the next three decades, the new wave seeped in with Salil Chowdhury continued its influence on Bengali music. There are two distinct phases in Salil's life. The first phase, started in the pre-independence era of the 1940s and went on till mid '50s. This was followed by the second phase which was more professional in its content. During the first phase he was a brilliant lyricist,songwriter,poet and a playwright. The composer in Salil reached the greatest heights in his second phase which basically started when he arrived in Bombay to compose music for the film 'Do Bigha Zameen'. This was the Hindi version of the successful Bengali Film 'Rikshawaala'. He himself wrote the story of 'Rikshawaala' and composed its music as well. Since Do Bigha Zameen, he has composed for over 75 Hindi films, around 26 Malayalam films, and several Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, and Assamese films. He was also an accomplished composer, and was proficient in several musical instruments, including the flute, the piano, and the esraj. He was fondly and reverently called Salilda in Bollywood. Very successful as a composer of children's songs. Wife and daughter are both famous singers.