Preparations on for Mass Music Maestro Salil Choudhury's Birth Centenary in Kolkata
Salil choudhury centenary programme announcement at Press club
Kolkata: The state capital of West Bengal is gearing up way ahead of time to celebrate the birth centenary of Salil Chowdhury, a legendary composer of contemporary Indian music widely known in the country and abroad. Chowdhury’s birth anniversary is observed on November 19.
The ‘Salil Chowdhury Foundation of Music, Social Help & Education Trust’ was established in 2002 by Sabita Chowdhury, the late composer’s wife, and Antara Chowdhury, his daughter, to carry forward the legacy and preserve the works of Salil Chowdhury.
The ‘Salil Chowdhury Foundation of Music, Social Help & Education Trust’ (SCFM), along with eminent members from all spheres of art and culture and various cultural organisations, has formed a committee called ‘Salil Janma Utsav Committee’ to start the preparation for the celebration of the legend’s birth centenary in the year 2025.
This committee will make plans for musical shows, workshops, music competitions, seminars, plays and other works related to Salil Chowdhury. The events shall start on November 19, 2024, and culminate in a grand show on November 19, 2025.
The committee also plans to announce every November 19 as Salil Jayanti Diwas to pay homage to the genius. His songs, which have touched the hearts of millions, will be called Salil Sangeet from now on, said the SCFM in a press release.
Within his lifetime, music maestro Salil Chowdhury and his songs had achieved cult status in the country and came to be regarded as an institution in himself.
While he composed film music in over 13 languages, 75 of them are in Hindi, 41 in Bengali and 27 in Malayalam films. Mass music under the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) banner gave him primary prominence in Bengal’s cultural landscape from 1946 to 1952.
With his single-reed harmonium, he would sing his time-tested creations in public meetings organised by the Communist Party in Bengal, which often had to go underground during that period due to political turmoil.
Speaking on the legacy of Salil Chowdhury, IPTA General Secretary Dibyendu Chatterjee said that the maestro’s charm lies in people’s music and the songs that he composed for the average person through film music. He enthused the audience to embrace the people’s movement, which Chatterjee noted as remarkable. “In Bengali, at the IPTA, we call him ‘charon bhumir padatik’ (Infantry of the Meadows). After Rabindranath Tagore, his songs bore a distinct mark in Bengali and can be noted as Salil Sangeet (after the tradition of Rabindra Sangeet).”
Antara Chowdhury, a singer and the daughter of Salil Choudhury, as well as the chairperson of the SCFM, told Newsclick that her father’s legacy is still intact amidst the people of the state. “The periphery within which Salil Choudhury dwells is huge, and it ranges from mass songs to film songs to songs in different Indian languages,” she said.
The foundation, Antara Chowdhury said, will arrange three concerts in the coming year in Chennai, Kolkata and Kerala to mark the centenary celebrations of the music maestro. It is also planning a cultural competition across Bengal for school students of the state, which will be held in all districts of the state.
She said that though the root of Salil Chowdhury lies in Marxism and progressive thought, now everybody is singing his songs. “We are not keeping any bar for the people to join the birth centenary celebrations,” she said.
Established in 2002, the SCFM is dedicated to carrying out various cultural, educational and social activities in memory of the music maestro, including preserving, protecting and promoting his valuable intellectual legacy. The Trust aims to promote and preserve Salil Chowdhury’s songs, lyrics, stories, plays, scripts and other arts.
Since 2002, SCFM has already held four significant musical shows in Kolkata and Chennai with the country’s leading singers and composers like Manna Dey, Yesudas, Illyaraja, Dwijen Mukherjee, Sabita Chowdhury, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sonu Nigam, Suresh Wadkar, Haimanti Shukla, Usha Uthup, Srikanta Acharya along with the new band of singers like Mahalakshmi Iyer, Annwesha, Rupankar, and Manomay and others.
The Trust has also published two books by Salil Chowdhury, namely Ek Guchha Chabi and Salil Rachana Shangraha, and also held a successful three-day exhibition in 2016 at Gorky Sadan, Kolkata.
In 2018, SCFM screened Chowdhury’s sole directorial work -- a Hindi film called ‘Pinjre Ke Panchhi’ at Nandan, which was a grand success.
SCFM is also building an archive of his work and has started compiling the notations of his evergreen songs.
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