Films of Salil Chowdhury

Salil must be the only Indian Film music director who composed music for nearly all his films in most of the Indian languages. During his early years Salil was very much influenced by the large and diverse folk tradition of India. Added to this was the vast resource of the Indian classical music. He realised that that's where the melody is. An Indian melody must be totally 'Indian' in character. Not a sad copy of a western song. An Indian will never accept it. No matter how westernised the orchestration of a song is, it's the melody which counts. During his childhood in Assam he grew up listening to his father's large collection of western classical symphonies. His favourite was Mozart. This had also influenced him considerably.
Later Salil realised how important the orchestration and the arrangement in a song is. There are many examples of his incredible ability to arrange a large number of musical instruments and voices in this symphonic style. In fact as early as 1944/45 Salil was composing Bengali songs and experimenting with alternative voicing and 3-part harmony.
So, Salil rapidly established his unique style. Wonderful melodies with close-knit orchestration. His songs and the accompanying prelude, interlude and the background music can not be separated. Each song became an entity. His songs often sound simple and hummable until one tries to sing them.
After his huge success in Bengal with the film 'Rikshawala' (for which he wrote the story) he was invited to Bombay by Bimal Roy to compose music for 'Do Bigha Zameen' which was in fact the Hindi version of 'Rikshawala'.
After a series of successful films in Bombay including 'Madhumati' for which Salil was awarded the Filmfare award, he composed the music for 'Chemmen', his first Malayalam film. This was given the National Award in 1970 and immediately made him very popular in Kerala and he became one of the most successful composers in the Malayalam film industry with more that 25 films.
After his fame in Kerala, other South Indian Film producers lined up for him and Salil became a regular composer in the south often seen in Madras recording studios.
In Bengal, Salil is highly respected and revered. He is often quoted as the thinking man's composer. Salil always wrote his own songs. He wrote the lyrics, composed the melody, the background, the prelude and the interlude. He wrote down the notation and the chord-charts. A full sevice! There was no one in those days (even now!) who came even close to him. The musicians loved him and would do anything just to play for him. In more than 40 Bengali films for which he composed music, he is nearly always the lyricist and the composer.
Obviously, he couldn't do that in other languages. However, he did find some lyricists with whom he worked regularly. Shailendra, Yogesh and Gulzar became his regular lyricists in Hindi Films and in Malayalam films Salil frequently got Vayalar and O.N.V. Kurup.

Other Known variations

Very often Salil used one melody as a basis melody and used that in another language with diffrent orchestration or different arrangement and with dramatic effect. This way, one very popular Bengali song,for example, would also be available to the Malayalam or the Hindi speaking audience. A good example is 'O Sajana, Barkha bahaar aayii', one of Salil's greatest creations was first released in Bengali as 'Na Jeona, rajoni akhono baaki'. There are numerous such examples. For many Salil admirers I have tried to give this cross-reference below under 'Other known variations'. Hnd=Hindi, Mal=Malayalam, Tam=Tamil, Tel=Telegu, Kan=Kannada, Bng=Bengali and Oth=other.

How does this cross-reference work?

In order to show the relationship of one song with another, as explained above, one has to create a cross-reference plan. I have tried to keep it fairly simple. Each film and singer has been tagged with a specific code, namely two letters as a name abbreviation, and then a number.
For example, in the Bengali Basic Songs section, under Lata Mangeshkar, you'll find a table containing the list "LM1", "LM2" etc. This stands for "Lata Mangeshkar 1" and is simply used to define a location in the table about her. If you look to the right in that table, you'll find the text "MA5". This shows that the song listed in LM1 was sung in the film "MA5". If you then click on "MA5", you will be redirected to the page about the "MA5" film, which you can, upon arrival, find out to be "Maaya".

Listening to songs

Ideally I would love to load all the songs Salil ever composed for all of you to hear and enjoy. Unfortunately that's not always possible for several reasons. Although I do possess most of Salil's compositions, very often the media and the quality of recording is appalling. Therefore, I am taking extra care by digitally recording them first on my PC and then cleaning them with a software before converting them into mp3Pro files. You can be rest assured that if a song is available and is loaded, it should be of better than average quality. This is specially true for very old and long unavailable songs.

Film Posters

This is something new. I decided that it will add a lot of colour and a different perspective to the pages if I enclose some kind of 'film poster'. What I did was to borrow a digital camera and take photographs of all my record covers, cassette covers and CD covers. I then edited them using Adobe Photoshop, cleaned them up a bit and put them up for you to enjoy. If there's a link associated with the name of the film at the top of the page then there's some kind of picture you can see. Please let me know if you like this.