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Birthday Jukebox: The Versatile Craft of Salil Chowdhury 

The best songs of multifaceted musician, Salil Chowdhury.

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Music
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Affectionately known as ‘Salilda’ to his admirers, one of the maverick musicians of the Indian film industry, Salil Chowdhury composed tunes for the golden era of Indian film music. Born in Sonarpur (Bengal) in an upper class family, his introduction to folk music was through the labourers singing in the tea gardens. His music amply proves that he learned to straddle the genres of western classical and Indian folk with great efficiency. A multi-instrumentalist, he played the flute, Esraj, violin and piano.

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His songs exemplified the voice of the masses after he joined the Indian People’s Theatre Association and travelled through villages. As a lyricist he captured the burning issues of the times in his songs. His big break in the Hindi film industry came with the film Rickshawallah, for which he wrote the story and composed the music. He was then invited by Bimal Roy to Bombay to pen the script of Do Bigha Zameen, the Hindi adaptation of Rickshawallah.

Defying the trappings on genre, he consistently experimented with song structures. Salil once said, “I want to create a style which shall transcend borders - a genre which is emphatic and polished, but never predictable". Here’s a glimpse of his versatile repertoire in music.

Click to play your mood

(This article is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 19 November 2017. It is now being republished to mark Salil Chowdhury’s birth anniversary.)

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