The revolutionary music genius: Salil Chaudhary

November 19, 2014

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)

Salil ChaudharyI 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.

My first introduction to Salilda was not through Hindi, though I grew up in Bombay and remember pottering around in our flat, singing Zindagi ek safar hai suhana…idli idli dosa dosa… We Malayalees pronounce dosa as ‘dosha’ (दोशा). Malayalam has a liberal number of consonants and we are prone to using as many as we can in a single word. I still remember my Goan friend Lalita tell my mother, “Auntie, my name is Lalita, not Lalitha.” I suppose that is okay; in Bengali, she might have been Lolita and that would have given Mr. Nabokov some food for thought. But I digress.

My exposure to music as a child was entirely through the radio; we had no record or spool player, and our radio was an old tube model made by National Ecko. It was multiband, and with its external antenna, could capture a lot of radio stations, and I spent a lot of time listening to exotic stations like Radio Netherlands, Radio Australia, BBC, and VOA, in addition to Vividh Bharati.

Vividh Bharati had a programme at 3.30 on Saturdays which would play popular music from the South. I think fifteen minutes were set aside for Malayalam. This song from Chemeen was my introduction to Salilda’s music and it was the beginning of a love affair that has never ceased.

Kadalinakkare ponore by Yesudasfrom Chemmeen (1966)


I was too young to notice the subtleties of the instrumentation and rhythms then, but the starting mandolin with the strings joining in, still stood out for me. Yesudas’s voice, at that point, was just beginning to flower into the magnificent baritone that it would become in the 70s and 80s. Later, I would begin to appreciate the interludes with the oboe/shehnai backed by violins, the rhythm on the dholak shifting imperceptibly during the antara, and if you listen carefully to the verses themselves, the backing instruments, Salilda’s trademark, playing a different melody from the main theme until the end where they join the voice and sing together.

This is the Bengali version, which was probably recorded around the same time; see how different it sounds:

The next song I remember noticing was Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye. Anand was a big hit and the radio was always playing the songs from it. Sadly in those days it was never played in its entirety on the radio because of its length. I loved the chimes, the flute prelude, the chimes again simulating bells around the bullock’s neck, the opening chords of the guitar in the key of F Major as Mukesh begins the song. Then the congas join providing the percussion while all along the orchestra plays behind Mukesh, not following the voice but playing accompaniment. The first and third interludes are similar but the second is different, where the dark colour of the strings is lightened by the high flute.

Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye by Mukesh from Anand (1970), lyrics Yogesh


The Bengali version by Hemant Kumar is arguably more complex, and the prelude by the strings reminds me strongly of the prelude of Aansoo samajh ke kyon mujhe. See how different the interludes are.

Then TV came to Bombay and we had Doordarshan transmit old movies on Sunday evenings. This opened my ears to a lot of music by Salilda in Hindi that I had not heard, but sometimes Bhoole Bhisre Geet on the radio would play songs that were really Bhoole and Bisre. Like this one:

Naam mera Nimmo muqaam Ludhiyana by Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey and Dwijen Mukherjee from Sapan Suhaane (1961), lyrics Shailendra


Ostensibly taking the guise of a Punjabi folk song, this becomes very non-Indian in its use of harmonies, the abrupt vocal climbs by Lata when she sings aho ri, the continuous drone of the pipes offset by the other instruments playing a melody, and the male voices providing the short bass accompaniment as the words Naam mera Nimmo is sung. Yet the execution is all Indian. SoY reader Gaby had pointed out some Salilda numbers also existing in Kannada; I would like to provide the Kannada version of this song. It is a cabaret number, beautifully sung by LR Easwari. I love this song because the setting is completely different, so are the instruments. The obligatos played by the tenor saxophone, guitar and keyboards are magnificent.

When we were discussing one of Salilda‘s compositions in a conversation on a Salilda fans group a few years ago, Gautam Choudhury, who has created and maintained the website, remarked that when you listen to the different versions of Salilda’s songs that he created in different languages, it was like looking at the same painting painted at different times of the day using different colours. His statement stayed with me because it was an excellent description of the ways Salilda would change a composition to fit the mood of a film, the instruments he used during rehearsals and recordings, and the calibre of instrumentalists he had. Like some other music directors of his time, he took the time and effort to understand the film in its entirety, and not just the scene itself. Take this song for example:

Dhitanag dhitang bole by Lata Mangeshkar from Aawaaz (1956), lyrics Prem Dhavan


When the Hindi version begins, the beats of the dhol and the tabla make you think that you are going to hear a Maharashtrian laavani, but instead, the tabla rhythm changes and the song segues softly into the asthmatic wheezing of an accordion, followed by the distinct lilt of the mandolin betraying its Portuguese influences. I have heard the same rhythm in songs from Galicia and Portugal, and if you close your eyes, you can see the sands of Goa. In the original Bengali version sung by Hemant Kumar, you cannot rid yourself of the idea that this song could be from the Northeast. It is faster, but even here, you can hear the flute playing while Hemantda sings, laying the basis of a chord framework.

This duet by P Susheela and Jayachandran with a bigger chorus, a sort of basso profundo added, completely different interludes, and different syncopation marks the changes in the Malayalam version of the same song. P Susheela begins the song, and she sings beautifully high seconds during the chorus.

Another Salilda song that is close to my heart is this one, because it is a not-very-frequent Asha Bhosle-Salilda combination. There are some lovely accordion pieces, and I like the mandolin, backed by the double bass, and the standard flute-clarinet combination. It is sung almost like a conversational monologue. In the last verse, when Asha sings Yun na ho bekal, milenge kal, balam ghabarana na, the accordion changes from playing a straight melodic line into a quick percussive backing to the voice. It is beautifully done. The picturisation is also excellent. I could really like Mala Sinha here. She does a wonderful job at times, and those large eyes could rival Daisy Irani’s moppet looks. This movie has several other wonderful numbers too, but, oddly, there is not a single Lata song in the film.

Koi dekhe to kahe mujhko by Asha Bhosle from Apradhi Kaun (1957), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri


Salilda used folk influences wherever he found them, but this particular song is rooted very much in his native Bengal, a Bhatiali song with perhaps a Baul influence. There is not much use of chordal harmony here, though the harmonium is quietly present in the background. Sung by Hemant Kumar:

Ganga aaye kahan se Ganga jaye kahan re by Hemant Kumar from Kabuliwala (1961), lyrics Gulzar


Manna Dey’s version in Bengali is a wonderful deviation; his voice is as melodious as a flute, but there is more instrumentation here.

Salilda’s early work in his Bengali songs of mass awakening had a lot of experiments with choral singing. In some ways choral songs are a great tool to mobilise people. A simple refrain that people can sing and march to does wonders for your psyche. Of course the next song is anything but simple and the dichotomy is stark. The musical setting is completely western, the scene is completely Indian. The song starts with a single piano chord followed by the oboe (at least, I think it is an oboe because of the clear bell like note, though it could be an E flat clarinet) and a lamp is lit in front of a deity. Lata begins the song unaccompanied; then, the chorus starts up and if you listen carefully, you realise that in the chorus, there are two melodic strains. The higher one, which is more noticeable, and the lower one which runs as a sort of counterpoint. This is again typical Salilda. All the voices are not doing the same thing. It is difficult to catch this on computer speakers especially in the beginning. A good pair of headphones can help isolate the two lines. Now there is seemingly no rhythmic instrument in the song. It seems to be driven forward entirely by the chorus with the piano occasionally providing the impetus. There are also some lovely flute pieces imitating bird calls.

Mere man ke diye by Lata Mangeshkar from Parakh (1960), lyrics Shailendra


Speaking of flutes and bird calls, many instrumentalists have remarked on Salilda’s marked partiality for the Indian flute. In many of his compositions he used a variety of flutes to lend depth and variety. This song is one where he has used Sandhya Mukherjee’s voice like a flute. The song starts with the B Major chord. Long flute notes are backed softly by the guitar and then a little trill on the santoor. Sandhya Mukherjee then begins the song, accompanied by the tabla and backing strings. There are lovely accordion obligatos in the interludes, and in the antaras, you can hear Sandhya Mukherjee take the notes exactly like a flute. When she is singing, the orchestra is off on its own exploring its own melody. The song ends beautifully. The way she takes the final notes is wonderful because there is scarce a breath in between the notes as she comes back down in the scale.

I began this article with the first song I heard by Salilda. It was in Malayalam. He passed away in 1995. His last released film in Malayalam was in 1994. Each song in it was beautiful and all with one exception had been composed earlier in Bengali and Hindi. One was a beautiful adaptation of Machalti Arzoo from Usne Kaha Tha sung here by Yesudas and Chitra.

Another beautiful composition was done earlier in Bengali, where he was experimenting with suspended chords.

But one song was a brand new composition, and as far as we know, has never been used elsewhere and will now never be used again with Salilda’s unique touch. It starts a lovely violin obligato and then we have Yesudas come in. Loosely based on the Shubha Panthuvarali raga, it shows he was still going strong in his 70s.

This article does not represent even a tenth of the variety of Salilda’s music, let alone his output as a short story writer, lyricist, etc. He wrote the original script for Do Bigha Zameen. He wrote the lyrics for almost all his Bengali compositions. His work with Shailendra in Hindi and Vayalar Rama Varma and ONV Kurup in Malayalam denotes a deep understanding of the underlying stories, scenes, etc in each of the films he worked with them. He gave the background music for all his films, as well as for films in which other MDs had composed the songs. Even the title music in his films had that inimitable touch, and often he would use a snatch of a melody in an interlude or a title to create another song. Lastly, I must thank Gautam Choudhury’s painstaking efforts in trying to get all of Salilda’s compositions in one place. Gautamda has striven to make available to everybody, in many cases cleaning up the songs from old tapes and film cassettes to preserve the original compositions with as much fidelity as possible. I have provided links to the audio on his websites, as the fidelity to the music is much better, but also included the videos where necessary.

It would be better to listen to the audios on Gautamda‘s website and I would suggest listening with a pair of good quality headphones to appreciate the music. Computer speakers usually do not provide good acoustic dynamics.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arunkumar Deshmukh November 19, 2014 at 11:53 am

AK ji,

Excellent and very readable article on Salil da. He was one of the more melodious composers from the Golden era.
Sadanand ji has taken a lot of efforts to stress the minor and major strengths of Salil da’s music. Thanks to him for that.
As far as the song Dhitang Dhitang bole from Awaaz-56 is concerned,apart from the Hindi,Bangla and malyalam versions, there is a Sinhalese version from Sri Lanka ( earlier Ceylon),which is equally good. Here is the link….


2 AK November 19, 2014 at 1:49 pm

I pass on your compliments to SSW. He has indeed taken a lot of pains for this article.

The Sinhalese version makes me curious, which song has versions in maximum number of languages?

3 ksbhatia November 20, 2014 at 12:41 am

AKji , What a wonderful article on one of my fav MD Salil’da . SSW ji has given us an indepth study where every minute details ; regarding instruments used in the making of the melodies ; are very well brought out . My two daughters while they were kids used to sing Dhitang dhitang bole song in bengali [ we are punjabi]. So whenever my bengali friend visited us we used to entertain them with this song . While music of Do bigha zamin , Kabuliwala , Madhumati , Jagte raho are engraved in our heart and mind there are some songs which I have enjoyed listening in my youthful days like …….” Banki adayan dekhna ji dekhna ” . In this song one can note the teasing of the singer [ Geeta dutt] and the interlude music ; an excellent composition . Salilda’s music in Ek gaon ki kahani was also very good ; the Talat’s song ….” Raat ne kya kya khawab dikhaye ” is excellent . The background score of Kanoon [ film had no songs] , Madhumati , Jagte raho was excellent . AKji I have a question here and want to know as to who is the singer in the song ” bolo sipahi pai bolo sipahi bai” that Moti lal played on the gramophone while drunk; asking his wife to dance in the film Jagte raho ?

4 SSW November 20, 2014 at 7:00 am

Thanks AK for the prologue though you do exaggerate. A couple of corrections in my article. I mentioned the tenor saxophone in the Kannada song. On closer listening I think it is the alto saxophone. I always make this mistake , the ranges of the two are closely intertwined.
And in the description of the last song I dropped “with”, should read “It starts with a lovely violin…”. Sorry about that.

Mr. Deshmukh, I had never heard this Sinhalese version before. Being curious I tried to find some history on it but am not able to devote too much time. This has to be copy of the Awaaz version of Dhitang Dhitan g.. The Bengali version which came earlier has a different rhythmic impulse. I heard another recording of the Sinhalese version which has a set of tabla bols that are identical to the Awaaz song. Some mystery to be solved here. As far as I know there is no record of Salilda composing music for a Sri Lankan film, though one must not forget that he travelled all over India with IPTA and drew inspiration from folk music everywhere. For example Salilda’s composition “Saat bai chompa jago re” , the hindi version of which is “Pyaas liye manwa hamara hi tarse” is inspired by a Sri Lankan folk song.
Here is a very nice clip of Ajay Chakraborty and his daughter Kaushiki when she was much younger demonstrating the sargam of the song..

5 SSW November 20, 2014 at 7:22 am

Mr. Bhatia… I’m glad you mentioned “Banki adaayein”. It is one of my younger son’s favourite numbers. There was one drive from Worcester to Boston and that song was on repeat on the CD for the entire duration of 50 miles. It has a simple 2/4 rhythm and a nice use of the maracas and trumpet and mouth organ and of course the piano. He used the same rhythm and piano syncopation in “Koi sone ke dilwala” but that has more elaborate orchestration (or at least the recording techniques were better).

6 Ashok M Vaishnav November 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Now that SoY has opened a new flank (Salil Chaudhary), and that to with a new (or not so new!) warrior (Warrier) in the front end role, we are all set to enjoy “the series” of fireworks.
The author is also as much as interesting as the subject is, and both are veritable bottomless pits.
Welcome Salil Chaudhary and welcome SSW (Sadanadji).

7 mumbaikar8 November 20, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I have loved music right from my childhood, growing up enjoyed some musical marvels like Suhana safar aur yeh mausam hasin but our main focus was lyrics, we discussed lyrics more than musical instruments.

Post SOY thanks to SSW and likes I got into appreciating nuances of music too.

I can appreciate orchestration of dil tadpe tadapya more.

Question: Salilda’s influence on RDB in Bharaon ke Sapne Chunri Sambhal gori Aahhaa

8 AK November 20, 2014 at 8:19 pm

KS Bhatiaji,
I have no clue. I don’t even recall the song.

9 mumbaikar8 November 20, 2014 at 11:42 pm
10 SSW November 21, 2014 at 4:15 am

Mumbaikar8 , “dil tadpe tadpaye ” is a complicated song. The notes skip and slide all over the place very quickly and each verse gets a different treatment. I am somewhat ambivalent about Salilda’s use of the chorus in the first and third interludes I feel it should have been purely instrumental ,but I really like the second interlude, it is more muted. You will notice that in each antara the 5th line …
1) khud ko manaloon dukhde chupaloon
2) tere hee yaadein teri hi baatein
3) kisko sada doon …….. (see how this one climbs high and is held at that point)
is taken completely differently. In addition there are little quirks in each verse that are unique.
I really like the Bengali version with Shyamal Mitra. It is more muted and yet beautiful. You might find it interesting too. Less flamboyant orchestration but lovely usage of the flute and backing string and piano arpeggios.

11 SSW November 21, 2014 at 5:13 am

Thank you Mr.Vaishnav. Hopefully the fireworks will be musical and less noisy than in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.

12 arvindersharma November 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm

I have always been a silent admirer of your knowledge of musical instruments and the explanatory narratives accompanying, as I am absolutely clueless regarding this aspect of music.
Terms like counter melody, musical interludes, strains and the names of various musical instruments have now become a familiar part of my vocabulary and credit for this goes entirety to you and SoY.
I for my part, present a lesser heard Lata melody from ‘Anokha Daan’, where even as late as in 1972, Salil Chaudhary produced a lilting gem.
Madbhari ye hawaayen – Anokha Daan:

13 SSW November 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Dear Mr.Sharma, this is not a lesser heard melody to listeners in Bengali or Malayalam or to Salilda afficionados in Hindi. The Bengali and Malayalam versions were both sung by Sabita Chowdhury and the arrangement for all three songs were different. Some of Salilda’s best work was done in the 1970s and early 1980s, it was just that Hindi films had moved to a different ethos and did not have much use for him.
Please listen to the Bengali and Malayalam versions and see how the orchestration differs. The orchestration is more sparing in the Bengali and Malayalam versions possibly due to budgets etc.
In Bengali see how the flute provides a constant counterpoint..

In Malayalam (and I am impressed here how far Sabita improved in her Malayalam diction ) an interesting deviation is the use of the violin in the first interlude and I am pretty sure it was due to the scene depicted in the movie. The accompaniment in this case to the vocals is provided by a violin in this case with an electric keyboard accompanying it.

14 N Venkataraman November 22, 2014 at 10:13 pm

An excellent tribute to a genius. Salil Choudhury’s not only music , but his entire work is huge and it needs research. It was appropriate that this article was penned by Sadanand ji (SSW). The finer points on orchestration, details on the instruments, preludes and interludes not only enhanced the listening pleasure but helped to understand Salil Choudhury’s music better. Thank you Sadanand ji for the effort.

I am glad to know that even today young composers of Kerala are influenced by Salil Choudhry. I wish it had been the same in Bengal. I cannot think of any instance in present day film music of Bengal where I could trace the influence of Salil Choudhury’s music.

I would like to put in few lines, not exactly on the technical aspects. In fact I have tried to absorb those details provided by you to the best of my ability and enjoy the songs.

I believe Chemmen was dubbed in Hindi in the year 1980. The Hindi version of the songs Kadalinakkare ponoree and Maanasa maine varuwas were rendered by Hariharan. Besides the song Maanasamaine varu I remember Manna Dey (with Jayachandran and chorus) sang another Malayalalm song Chemba chemba composed by Salil Choudhury in the film Nellu (1974). I would like to present the Bengali version of this song from Marjina Abdullah (1972).
Another song I would like to mention is the Bengali version of Maine tere liye hi. It starts with a short key board play. I liked the use of guitar and the drums in the interlude. This song sung by Suparna Guha is pleasing.
Dhitang Dhitang bole. According to Sourindranth Ghosh,. Salil Choudhury’s maternal uncle, this song was written by Salil Choudhury sometime during 1951. He was visiting Santhal Parganas where he attended a Santhal festival. In one of his conversations with Satinath Mukhopadhyay Salil Choudhury had mentioned that he composed it in the Konkani style. The song expresses a dream for a bright golden future and calls everybody to join hands to make this dream come true. The stimulating words and the undulating rhythm was a great favourite of many.
I have read in an article written by one Kishore Chatterjee
‘When I told my friends Bichua was intensely Mozartian, they brushed me off. I am fairly certain now that Salil did indeed cleverly and creatively mingle folk melodies with the Mozartian sense of perpetual movement, which can be termed a divine momentum. Salil must have studied Mozart allegros carefully before composing this song. In Bichua, I find the contest and interaction or struggle between the soloist and the chorus that recurs in a Mozart concerto…Salil Chowdhury romanticized Mozart. The fugue in Mozart’s Jupiter symphony finale is present in the faster portions of this song,”
Before I listen to the Jupiter Symphony I would like to have a few words from you on this subject.
Recently I came know that Salil Choudhury had set to music the song Jane kya soch kar penned by Gulzar in the 60s. Later the same lyrics were set to music by R D Burman for the film Kinara. Here is the Salil Choudhury version sung by Sabita Choudhury.
This song in Ahir Bhairav in the voice of Yesudas is one of my favourites
Thank you once again Sadanand ji.
Thank you Akji for hosting Sadanand ji. Hope we would see more of his write-ups in coming days.

15 SSW November 23, 2014 at 9:24 am

Hello Mr.V.
You’ll notice that the Malayalam version (Chemba Chemba) has some drumming in the prelude that is more pronounced than the Bengali version and ends in almost a Kerala Chenda melam.

Yes I like Suprana Guha’s version , the guitar is played percussively like in Tulsa songs with a standard pop beat, but what do you think about this. This is the version I like the most. Sung by Manas Mukherjee (I believe he is the father of Shaan and Sagarika) it has a salsa rhythm so infectious that it starts your feet tapping.

Yes dhitang dhitang dole does not have so much a Konkani influence as a Portuguese one so it is more Goan than Konkani.

On your Bichua question, I do not think I am qualified to answer your question. I have some idea of a fugue structure from listening and yes Mozart’s 41st Symphony’s final movement has fugue parts though it is not really a fugue. That movement brings the themes of the earlier movements together in a fugato (if that is word) . I find this upload quite lovely in the ways the different harmonies are represented by different movements and colours. See how the notes climb and fall.

However I cannot really comment on whether Bichua has fugue qualities. The song has three main instrumental motifs, the first played by the flutes, the second played by the shehnais and the third played by the mandolin. Then Lata and Manna De sing the same melodic lines in different verses. The refrain and the choral backing is another different melody and lastly let us not forget the rhythm which has actually two parts and is as omnipresent as the melodies are. And while there is movement among them the themes do not follow a fugue pattern. At least not to my ear and I am not really qualified to talk about this. So sorry.. in not being able to offer any comments.

I noticed that you have provided Pavan’s upload in Jane kya soch kar. He is very involved in Salilda’s music and I think helps arrange some music shows in his memory. Isn’t Salilda’s version wonderful. I think RD was influenced by the original tune, his version also has a 3/4 (dadra style) rhythm following the original though the melodic and chord patterns are different.

I did not answer Mumbaikar’s question on whether Salilda had any influence on “Chunri sambhal gori”. In my subjective opinion I do not think so. I think it is all RD’s work. He was a musical phenomenon too.

Lastly I said that Salilda’s work seems to be better represented in Kerala. The Idea star singer has a round where contestants have to sing a Salilda song. This is a true test of the singer and the orchestra sometimes. Recently this girl from my hometown sang this song. I think she sang exceptionally especially since the original was sung by Yesudas and is quite fiendishly complicated as you can see in the sargams. You can see the tension her mother’s face.

The original sung by Yesudas here..

The song has hints of Gorakh Kalyan but is not really in that raga. Salilda rarely used a raga traditionally though the basis of his music was definitely rooted in Indian idioms.

16 N Venkataraman November 23, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Hai Sadanand Ji,
I like your sammodhan V (We). There is inclusiveness in that address.
Salil Choudhury has used the drums as per the situational needs of the film. Yes I did notice it. Nellu, I believe was on the tribals of Wayanad district of Kerala. The Bengali song was for the film Marjina Abdullah based on the story Alibaba and forty thieves. BTW I am a regular visitor to Wayanad (Kenichira) at least twice a year. A wonderful place.
The Manas Mukherjee’s version is also good. You must be aware that besides the three versions there is another version sung by Suresh Wadkar for the 1986 Bengali film Jibon. The lyrics of the version sung by Manas Mukherjee and Suresh Wadkar and the lyrics of the Suparna Guha’s version are different.
Yes agree with you that Salil Choudhury’s version of Jane kya soch kar is indeed wonderful. I did not know about Pavan. Mozart Symphony was wonderful. The graphical representation of the movements of the instruments was interesting. Padarenu Thedi. The performance of Malavika was brilliant. The accompanying instrumentalists were too good. The sahityam by ONV Kurup was wonderful. A total composition in all respects.

17 Subodh Agrawal November 23, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Good to get formally acquainted with Sadanand, and there could be no better way of doing so than this wonderful article on one of the greatest composers of the golden age. I have really liked the comparison between different versions of the same song. My favourite would be the Bengali version of ‘Kahin door jab…”. Thanks also to Sadanand for introducing us to Gautam and his This post has enriched us beyond measure. Thanks AK, thanks Sadanand.

18 ksbhatia November 24, 2014 at 12:10 am

Above observations and comments truly give us the in-depth study on orchestra and the beautiful contribution of the instruments thereof in making the melodies ; in which Salilda was the master. I am recalling a Salilda song ” Aye dil kahan teri manzil ” from Maya. This song is a perfect example of bonding lyrics , interludes and chorus effects . I think this is the only song where Lataji has led the chorus and singing without uttering any word .

19 SSW November 24, 2014 at 5:10 am

Thank you Subodh. I admire your facility with Hindustani classical music and see how he was trying to push the envelope to go beyond the raga boundary to facilitate expression.

Mr. Bhatia, that is a lovely song and there is another one where Lata sings but does not utter a word either. She has of course sung the same song separately. This one..

The orchestration here is beautiful and the accordion phrases are lovely. When Lata vocalizes listen to the cellos in the background. I really like the way Mukesh has sung this song.

20 SSW November 24, 2014 at 5:12 am

Sorry Subodh, I meant to write “and you can see how he was trying to push the envelope …”

21 N Venkataraman November 24, 2014 at 9:32 pm

AK Ji,
I tried to find the answer to your query, “which song has versions in maximum number of languages?” (Comment #2)
I could not find any song which has versions in more than four languages.
Brindavan ki Krishna Kanhaiya from the film Miss Mary (1957) had three more film versions in Tamil, Telugu and Sinhala.
The song Kitni Haseen hai mausam from the film Azaad (1955) also had three more film versions in Malayalam, Kannada and Sinhala.

In fact Salil Choudhury has composed similar version songs in four languages on more than one occasion. Here are few of them.
The song Haay jhilmil jhilmil ye shaam ke saaye, from Lal Batti (1957) sung by Lata Mangeshkar had three more versions in Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali. I am not sure whether the Bengali NFS sung by Sabita Choudhury was prior to the Hindi version or later. The other three versions were composed for films.
Similarly the song Madhbari ye hawa from the film Anokha Daan (1972) had two more film versions in Malayalam and Kannada and one more NF version in Bengali.
The Hindi song O mere Saathi re from the film Aakhri Badla (1989) had three film versions in Gujarati, Malayalam and Bengali. It seems the Gujarati version was the earliest.
All the six songs of Dil Kaa Saathi Dil (1982) had four more versions, two film versions in Malayalam and Tamil and one NF version in Bengali. Out of these six songs two songs had one more Hindi film version.

22 ksbhatia November 24, 2014 at 9:40 pm

SSWji, Oh! what a lovely song . Perfect melody and perfect rendering of song and singular chorus effects . Thanks for uploading.

23 SSW November 25, 2014 at 3:45 am

Mr. V re post 21 if I may make some corrections. ..
The song Haay jhilmil jhilmil from Laals bati is not exactly the same tune as the Malayalam Kannada and Bengali songs. The interlude music of the Hindi song was used as the melody in the mukhda for the other versions. The antara is different and only comes back to resolve to the mukhda in a somewhat similar manner.

There is no Gujarati version of “O mere Saathi re”. The original version of this tune was in Malayalam from the film “Etho Oru Swapnam”. It was followed in the Bengali film Antarghaat in 1980 and then by Aakhri Badla.
Of the lot while the orchestration in the” Bengali and Hindi versions are more elaborate the rawness of the Malayalam version , the lovely chord work on the guitar the continuous flute countermelody and ONV’s lyrics (they are quite erotic) and Yesudas’s singing remain my favourite.
Here is the original Malayalam version…
I think this is set to a 7/4 rhythm the closest I can think of is the rupak taal. There is a Tamil version of this song. So it does bring the total to 4.

The Gujarati song that you pointed out exists in Malayalam and Bengali and yes the Gujarati version is the oldest followed by the Malayalam version and then the Bengali. Gautamda has got his table wrong. I will tell him. Here is the Malayalam version sung by P Susheela, as you can see it is a lullaby.

Lastly Dil ka Saath Dil was just the dubbed Hindi version of the Malayalam film Madanolsavam as was the Tamil version. The original Malayalam film had an amazing song by Yesudas with a lovely counterpoint by Sabita Chowdhury and chorus, which seems to have been inspired by the church choirs in Kerala. Years later Salida got Lata to sing this song, a much slower version but her voice was not the same and something was lost in translation.

24 AK November 25, 2014 at 11:12 am

Venkataramanji, SSW,
Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation. Hindi films songs have been adapted in all the four regional languages, though not at the same time. Thus, with Salil Chaudhary’s forays in so many languages, theoretically his songs could have 6-7 versions, including Hindi Bengali. I guess, the era of songs in multiple languages is over.

Thanks again to both of you.

25 N.Venkataraman November 25, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Sadanand Ji,
Thank you for the corrections. I went by Mr Gautam Choudhry’s table. I did not have the time to listen to the songs. I will listen to the songs at leisure and refer to your comments.

26 ksbhatia November 25, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Salilda songs are gold mine for the music lovers of Golden era . The more you dig the more you get . It happened to me ; while exploring oldies ; I happened to pass thru Musafir songs . The first Gem was Bhajan by Lataji ” Man re hari ke gun ga ” ; the second was duet by Lataji and Dilip sahib ” Laggi na chhoote rama ” ; and the third duet by Mana dey and Shamshad – ” Tehdi tehdi hum se pherai pyari duniya” . The second is song the only sung by Dilip sahib during his career . The third song is picturised on Shailendra and Keshto mukkerji [ his first film with Hrishi mukkerji ; thereafter appearing in every H rishi da movie] . Beside this comic song- note the excellent break dance of that time by Keshto .

27 SSW November 26, 2014 at 3:20 am

What do you think of this song Mr.Bhatia…? Look at the changes in the way it begins and the way it ends. A simple folk progression or is it?

28 ksbhatia November 26, 2014 at 11:27 pm

SSW ji, Thanks for this beautiful song – which I heard for the first time . Yes; the song slowly, gently and progressivly takes the sine parabolic curve . The orchestra accordingly picks up the mood symbolising and matching “Mother waking her child [Krishna] and there after child getting dressed up “. Note the change of tone of flute in the opening and second stanza . To me this song is a symbolicaly a morning song ; just opposite to Lori songs – a mother usually sing for her child for a good night sleep . This reminds me of Salilda’s unforgettable masterpiece ” Aaja re aa nindiya tu aa ” from Do bigha zamin .

29 AK November 26, 2014 at 11:55 pm

What a wonderful song, I am also hearing it for the first time. The mother is gently waking up the child, but once he is up, he gets running about. Thus, two distinct tempos woven together.

Raga Durga I understand? I wonder why this Raga has not been used more frequently in film music. Nothing can surpass a good Durga.

30 SSW November 27, 2014 at 2:35 am

Thanks AK, Mr.Bhatia.. I found this song fascinating for two things. It is a simple pentatonic scale. The tonic note is G to me because the song starts on the G major chord. The melodic notes seem to hover around G A B D E G (Sa Re Ga Pa Dha Sa) which would fix it along the lines of the Bhoop or Desh Kar scale, not Durga which touches the Madhyam. But I wouldn’ t fixate on the raga, it isn’t important. Lata starts on the G (Sa) and then moves down the scale . I think the first notes Lata sings go G E D B D D E. I don’t have my guitar with me so I can’t check.
Now the chord story for this song is different. Salilda uses the chords C , Em G, Am, Bm, and an occasional F#. There is a lot of stuff happening in the chord framework which is quite interesting, not to mention the change in the tempo which as you said AK is situational.
Plus forgetting all the analysis its a lovely melody.

31 Soumya Banerji November 27, 2014 at 5:41 am

The problem (a pleasant one, no doubt) with an article on Salil Choudhury is the amount of time it takes to go through it and savor every song. I had to listen to all the songs posted by SSW and other commentators before I posted my comments. A very meticulously researched article, SSW – please take a bow. And thanks to AK for the invitation that resulted in this article.
I had heard quite a number of the songs in this article but that did not prevent me from listening to them all over again. I had not hear ‘Naam Mera Nimmo’ before, so that was a nice surprise. I wonder why the bengali version was not mentioned. Here it is, sung by Sabita Choudhury – Jhilmil Jhauer Boney.

32 SSW November 27, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Thanks Soumya. Mea culpa about the Bengali version. I wanted to highlight the difference between the same melody being used for a folk song and a cabaret one and picked the film version in Hindi. Yes I was aware of the Bengali number and for me funnily that version by Sabita always leads me into this one.. .
The Hindi version is present in the same link, I rather like the accordion in the Bengali.

33 mumbaikar8 November 28, 2014 at 6:01 am

Going back to comment # 10. I wanted to reply earlier, sorry I got caught up. You are right about the orchestration in the interludes, watching the song it is obvious that it is cinematic compulsion (ghost effect).
Surprisingly I noticed the elevation at kisko sada doon (correct me if I am wrong MDRoshan has used it few times).
I liked Shyamal Mitra’s version, the slow start of that song takes me to a Lata song I cannot recollect, any guess?
Isn’t lata a little screechy in Jaagiye of jaagiye gopal compared to jago mohan pyare of jagte Raho.
What do you think of of this song from Lal Batti?

34 ksbhatia November 28, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Mumbaiker’ji ; While recalling different version songs ; with same style or content ; I came upon two Hindi songs of Salilda of different movies which one can hardly differentiate . 1 ” Rim jhim jhim jhim badarwa barse oo kare kare ” from Tangewali by Lataji . 2 ” Jhir jhir jhir jhir badarwa barse oo kare kare ” a duet by Lataji and Hemant kumar from Parivar . Now these two songs are so melodious and so similar and both are of the mid 50s. The use of flute in the interludes is excellent . I would love to hear such songs .

35 SSW November 29, 2014 at 5:02 am

I mentioned the changes in the melody to emphasize that each line is sung differently. Moving to a higher note has been done by all MD’s it isn’t something that only Roshan or Salilda did.
Screechiness is subjective. Recording technology differs and sometimes the high frequencies are abruptly clipped with poorer machines, some studios had better technology in the 1950s.

I like the Lal Batti song. In the same film I like the Manna Dey Shamshad duet “Desi kya bidesi”

Mr.Bhatia , to me the two songs are different melodically and structurally. The song in Tangewali also has a lovely sanchari whereas the Parivar song is a more conventional mukhda/antara (but what an antara, “aaja ke tohe meri preet pukare … “it just seems to flow like water, imagine singing Lata’s portion without taking a breath).
The Tangewali song was originally composed in 1951 for Pasher Badi which was remade in Hindi as Padosan. It was sung by Dhananjay Bhattacharya and brought a different direction to music in Bengali films. Here is the song
Nearly twenty nine years later Salilda would use the same melody in Malayalam with a completely different arrangement and as a duet.

36 mumbaikar8 November 29, 2014 at 6:56 am

Thanks to SSW we can understand the differnce in simlilar songs. Enjoyed the songs as well as his analysis.
I find these two songs similar, both from Tangewali first one pure Tangewale song, the other a romantic duet with Tonga beat.
Let us see what the expert has to say.

37 ksbhatia November 29, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Mumbaiker’ji ; Amazing ; purely fantastic; one reflection of other and that too from the same movie . Thanks for these rare gems. I faintly remember to have heard the Rafi’s song in my youth as soon as the wording ” chal mere ghore chaala chal ” came up . Thanks for the uploads . Wanted more of this kind .

38 SSW November 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Sorry Mumbaikar for the delay. Thanksgiving weekend was upon us. It seems the Tangewala was not above using different lyrics to purvey the same melody. Same wine new bottle, or same bottle new wine.
Or to misquote Bob Dylan with my lyrics but same tune.

It’s not new dear friends
where ever you may be.
A ruse such as this
is as common as can be.
It has been done before
so often that it’s a core
precept of composing.
So understand it and go
it’s better to be accepting
and come to an understanding
the tunes they ain’t a changin’.

So poets and writers
who conjure up a poem
with the same metre
not to say rhy-them.
You are asking for it,
if your creation can be
sung to the same melody.
So don’t you see,
it’s better experimenting
and new ideas implementing,
or the tunes they won’t be a changin’.

39 Jignesh Kotadia December 1, 2014 at 12:58 am

A great detailed article SSWarrierji, thanq for bringing Salilda on surface with intensive research. I think SSW’s full form should be Sursamraat from South West. I knew very first time that Salilda has scored around 27 films in malayalam too !
Many musical terms are bouncers for me 🙂 but all i can do is to keep my head low and watch the ball passing my head 🙂 🙂 I hope some day i can get a good grip over musical grammar by staying with you people, until then i should continue to hear salilda’s mind blowing compositions like ” teri yaad na dil se ja saki ” , ” ek samay par do barsaate ” , ” aa aa re mitwa ” and several more with complete bliss.

40 raunak December 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm

So, Salilda is now on the SoY radar. Really didn’t expect that. For some strange reasons, i was expecting Madan Mohan and Gyan Dutt . Not that I am disappointed coz Salilda is sheer genius. And yes, it was a pleasant surprise to know that SSWji is Anudi’s hubby. I have always been a fan of Anudi but now i am quite sure that SSWji is more knowledgeable of the two. 🙂 🙂

p.s: Yes, the awaaz number ‘Dhitang Dhitang Bole’ was indeed the inspiration for the Sri Lankan song. I remember once listening to a Sri Lankan programme, where they discussed about the influence of Bollywood songs on old Sri Lankan songs. In the programme, many inpired Sri Lankan songs alongwith their Hindi originals were played. The Dhitang Dhitang bole number was one of the songs played. Other songs that i remember in that programme inlcuded, Mera Sundar Sapna Beet gaya (Do Bhai), Aa Jayi Aayi Bahar ( Rajkumar), Aao Pyar Karen ( from the film of the same name) and a song each from SJ’s Barsaat & Aah. Hey, maybe you can do a Hindi-Sinhalese multiple version post now Sir. 🙂

41 AK December 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

All the great MDs of the golden and vintage era would figure on SoY some time. I have already done a post on MM – of his un-MM like songs. Several songs of Gyan Dutt have figured in my post on Khursheed.

You have made a very un-diplomatic statement by comparing SSW and Anu. 🙂

I would pass on your request for Hindi-Sinhalese multiple version songs to Arunji or SSW. But your comments made me remember my own visit to Sri Lanka a few years ago. In the evening dinner it was a pleasant surprise to find everyone – males and females – more clued to old Hindi film songs than one would find in an average gathering in India. They are also a very fun-loving and talented people. Some played the guitar and the others sang and danced to the songs of the 50s and 60s.

42 raunak December 23, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Yeah, sri lankan are very down-to-earth and unassuming folks, inspite of being highly talented & creative. Their simplicity just touches one’s heart or so says my uncle,who lived in Colombo for some time. I see that you share a similar opinion Sir.

And yes ‘un-diplomatic’, but then diplomatic admiration doesn’t quite have the same charm and genuineness. 🙂 🙂

43 ksbhatia January 3, 2015 at 4:50 pm

SSW’ji; Recalling Salilda again; and I am inviting your attention to #2 and #5 where reference was made to my childhood Amanat song ” Banki adaiyan “. It is a coincidence that your son was enjoying this song while driving to boston and i was making my video with this song playing while driving to Atlanta downtown with my family , daughter , grand daughters , son in law . Since the recordings are with them all I ask them to upload on SOY site. I got this inspiration after watching ” Dekhta challa gaya mein zindagi ki rahon pe ” a beautiful Rafi /Lata song by MM on YT picturised by one of a person in Atlanta — a like of us ………. Coming back to Amanat there was another song by Asha ji which impressed me ” Meri wafaiyen tumahari jafaiyen ” . This song has all the ease and tease that old melody of Salilda was known for . Another song again by Ashaji ” Jab tumne mohabbat chhood di ” a sad song with beautiful upfront piano piece and beautiful orchestra interludes is equally enjoyble . Indeed those were the days of melody makers of the golden era ; tailored made to perfection ; for the classic listeners of the present day .

44 SSW January 6, 2015 at 1:20 am

Mr.Bhatia, both the songs you have listed from Amanat are excellent songs. The second number “jab tumne muhabbat cheen lee” is very similar to a song that came later by Lata from Awaaz “Ulfat ke hai kaam nirale”. Both the songs have wonderful string lines only in the second song Lata’s vocals replace the piano arpeggios. Not withstanding the golden era , so to speak, I think Salilda composed some amazing music in the 1970’s some of it far more complex than he had done earlier. The difference was that as time went on I think the number of people who could play different melodic western orchestral instruments like cellos, clarinets violas obloes etc and read notation decreased and our music became less tonally rich. Then the synthesizer enabled MDs to dispense with real instruments which further decreased the already sparse aural spectrum. His later compositions were complex and marvellous too except that tonally they were not interpreted by a real orchestra. By that I do not mean a large orchestra. Even a small chamber orchestra with 10 musicians is enough to create a wonderful ambience. For example this piece , one of my favourites, has just 6 instruments.

45 Siraj Khan June 5, 2016 at 5:35 am

It is interesting that reference is made of Worcester and Boston. I live in Hudson MA and while I am a die-hard OPium ( Check out I am a huge fan of Salilda. Planning an event in Boston called MOODS in spring 2017 which would showcase the creative work of Salil C and Hemant K. In the exchange above, I feel that there was an over-analysis of some songs and in the process, many gems slipped through the cracks. From the top of my head, I am listing just 10.

Requesting discussion on email. Thanks

1. O sajna barkha bahar
2. Toote huwe khwabon ne
3. Tasveer teri dil mein jis din se
4. Saathi re tujh bin jiya
5. Itna na mujh se tu pyar barhha ( his love for symphony)
6. Aa rim jhim ke ye pyare pyare
7. Koi hota jisko apna kehta
8. Na jaane kyon hota hai yun zindagi
9. Sohana safar aur ye mausam haseen
10. Rajnigandha phool tumhare (One of his best but least talked about)

46 AK June 6, 2016 at 3:17 am

Siraj Khan,
Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your comments. I am travelling for about two weeks, therefore, my interaction would be limited. However, the author of this article and some more active members on SoY live in Boston area/US. If it is OK with you, I can pass on your email id to them.

47 Siraj Khan June 6, 2016 at 3:36 am

Please do so. Quite possibly we may know each other already. Thanks

48 SSW June 6, 2016 at 7:26 am

Mr.Khan, thank you for your comments. When I wrote the article I did not wish to restrict it to purely Hindi compositions by Salilda nor did I wish to showcase his most popular Hindi songs. All the songs you have listed are wonderful.

49 ksbhatia June 6, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Siraj Khan, SSW’ji;
It is good to note that Salil da is remembered thru the stage shows and this is a great respect to the MD of bygone eras that still live in our heart . The ten songs listed are great composition of Salil da that will surely thrill the Boston audience .

While these songs are popular with the audience I was thinking why not add more songs of the golden era that will make the plus 70 aged happy as well . A few songs such as :

1. O…man re na gham kerle……Lata…..Naukri…

This is a rare song of Salil that brings the tag of nostalgia .

2. Meri waffaiyen tumahari jaffaiyen…….Asha…..Amanat…

This one is a melody at its best with superb orchestration .

3. Baanki addaiyen dekhna ji dekhna……Geeta dutt…..Amanat…

This one is again a gem of a song for its naughty rendering and beautiful rhythm .

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