Salil Chowdhury, a multifaceted artist known for his roles as a songwriter, lyricist, music director, poet, writer, and arranger, has left an indelible mark on the world of music, particularly in Bengali, Hindi, and Malayalam cinema.
Celebrating his 98th birth anniversary, we delve into the remarkable journey of Salil Chowdhury, focusing on his significant contributions to Hindi cinema.
Born on November 19, 1925, in Gazipur village, West Bengal, Salil’s musical journey began amidst the tea gardens of Assam, where his father staged plays for tea garden workers. Immersed in Western classical music from an early age, Salil composed his first popular song, “Bicharpoti Tomar Bichaar,” during his college days, marking the inception of a prolific career.
In 1994, Salil Chowdhury joined the Indian People’s Theatre Association, a pivotal moment that sparked his keen interest in Hindi cinema. Collaborations with notable figures like Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi, lyricist Shailendra, and veteran artists A. K. Hangal and Balraj Sahni deepened his involvement in the industry. During this period, he contributed to the freedom movement by composing music that resonated with the enthusiasm of the youth.
Post-Independence, Salil shifted his focus to the Bengali film industry in Kolkata, making his debut as a music composer in the 1949 film “Poribartan,” directed by Satyen Bose. Subsequent works like “Pasher Bari,” “Bansher Kella,” and “Bhore Hoye Elo” showcased his musical prowess. Simultaneously, Salil explored storytelling, penning a compelling narrative centered around the lives of rickshaw pullers.
His storytelling prowess caught the attention of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who, impressed by Salil’s narrative, approached Bimal Roy to bring it to the silver screen. This collaboration resulted in the iconic 1953 film “Do Bigha Zamin,” based on Rabindranath Tagore’s poem, “Dui Bigha Jomi.” Starring Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy, the film marked a milestone in Indian cinema, establishing Salil Chowdhury as a distinguished composer.
Following this success, Salil continued to provide soul-stirring music for Bimal Roy’s subsequent films, such as “Biraaj Bahu” and “Naukari.” Through his enduring melodies and storytelling prowess, Salil Chowdhury etched his name in the annals of Hindi cinema, leaving a legacy that continues to captivate audiences to this day.