Remembering Salil Chowdhury on his 22nd death anniversary.
Salilda was a 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 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 for his inspirational and original poetry in Bengali language.
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, , 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”. The guitarist eventually turned out to be Maestro Ilaiyaraaja.
In this photo he is with daughter Antara Chowdhury.