A tribute to Salil Chaudhry on his birth anniversary (November 19) by guest author Sadanand Warrier
(SoY regulars are familiar with a more famous Warrier – Anuradha or Anu. Her husband, Sadanand, prefers to keep his immense knowledge hidden under the Nom de plume “SSW”. Now that the cover is blown, readers are familiar with his ability to traverse seamlessly from music to literature to science to history to economics, from English to Hindi to Malayalam to Tamil to Telugu, from komal gaandhar to F Major to teevra madhyam, and from Western Classical to pop to Hindustani to Carnatic to ghazal to opera to film songs.
Acknowledged as a revolutionary genius from his very first score in “Do Bigha Zameen” (1953), Salil Chaudhary was a multifaceted talent, earning renown as a short story writer, lyricist, music scholar and left-wing activist, besides music director. He was also probably the most multi-lingual composer. I envisage a series of articles to do full justice to him by more than one guest author. There can’t be a more befitting person than SSW to set off the series on Salil Chaudhary – I am grateful that he accepted my request to write this guest article as a tribute on his birth anniversary (b. 19 November 1925, d. 5 September 1995). He informs me that Anu has helped him a lot in doing this article, I thank her too. Enjoy this learned article, laced with SSW’s characteristic humour – AK)
I am a relatively new visitor to the Songs of Yore website. I started reading articles on it more frequently during the last year, but I do not get to spend as much time as I would like to on it. I have commented on some topics where I could contribute something, but I have relatively little of value to say on most of the articles. On the other hand, I have learnt a lot from reading those articles that I have visited, and time permitting, I shall be reading more. But my few comments seemed to have piqued AK enough to ask me to contribute an article on the use of instruments in Hindi film music of the era that the website is dedicated to. I have not yet done so, primarily because while I know of some of the instrumentalists, I am not in any position to be accurate about them. So when AK asked us (my wife and me, possibly because he had no idea whether I could write more than one paragraph coherently) to contribute an article on Salil Chowdhury, I did think seriously about it. My wife has already written an article on Salilda on her blog, so she offered to look over my shoulder while watching me work. So, thanks to AK, this is my article on Salilda, a composer who I admire the most in the realm of Indian popular song. In some ways, I feel that his influence is felt more in my native state of Kerala because, even today, I see his influence amongst the younger composers. That is perhaps because I am not as familiar with modern Bengali composers; I am quite sure he has influenced them too.