Remembering Salil Chowdhury

"At one time composer and musician Salil Chowdhury was a commanding presence in the movie world in the city of Bombay. Previously, when he had been associated with the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association (IPTA), his fame had spread well beyond Bengal. Eventually the IPTA disbanded. Salil Chowdhury then found his new arena of work in the city of Bombay. That is when I first made his acquaintance. I respected him a great deal. He has made me sing for Bengali movies. I have also issued Puja recordings of my Bengali songs composed by Salil Chowdhury. These song were all extraordinary in both melody and lyrics. Over the course of my life I have worked with over a hundred music directors. Of these, perhaps only ten understood both music and the cinema. And of these ten, Salil was the foremost. Salil Chowdhury's melodies were different from those of the others. He had both a highly developed sense and a great understanding of Bengali folk music. On his way from Calcutta to Bombay, he had disappeared for several months. He spent this time in some faraway, long forgotten village, in order to get acquainted with village music, to familiarize himself with its tunes and tempos. Of course he was also very well acquainted with the folk music of other parts of the country. This folk music he has melded wonderfully with Indian classical music. Sometimes he would spend days on end without food or sleep in critical examination of one of his compositions, before deciding for himself how the tune should be developed. I have sung songs by him for over two generations. I have never before seen the equal of composer Salil Chowdhury. "

- Lata Mangeshkar

Source: 'Aalokpaat' magazine, November 1997 issue (pg. 8)
Translated from the Bengali original.