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A Tribute to the Great Music Maestro Salil Chowdhury

A Tribute to the Great Music Maestro Salil Chowdhury

Debojyoti Mishra performing

On 19th November our Prime Minister Modiji announced the Withdrawal of Agriculture reform Bills .This decision to repeal the controversial farm laws is a landmark moment.  And 19th November was also the 96th birth anniversary of the great music maestro Salil Chowdhury

By Ananya Das

Salilda would have written new songs if he was alive –says Debojyoti Mishra, a very popular Indian music director and film composer who rose to fame with his wonderful compositions for Rituparno Ghosh’s film ‘The Raincoat.’ Mishra’s much acclaimed works are on films such as ‘Chokher Bali’,’ Memories in March’ and the list goes on.

Debojyoti Mishra with Salil Da
Debojyoti Mishra with Salil Da

Bicharpoti tomar bichar’ which means “the days of new judgement have come because people are now awake“ was Salil Chowdhury’s first popular song composed by him in 1945 during the Indian National Army trials when the freedom fighters had returned from Andaman jail. Chowdhury shifted to a village in 24 paraganas and it was at that time he witnessed the big peasant uprising in 1943. He started composing songs for the peasant movement and got involved with them. Salil Chowdhury witnessed the Bengal famine in 1944 where as many as fifty lakh Bengalis died. The irony was the famine was man-made as the rice grown locally was directed to Britain’s war effort overseas which led to a severe scarcity and provoked the black marketers. All these led Chowdhury to become fully involved in the peasant movement and become a full-time member of IPTA (Indian Peoples Theatre Association) and the Communist Party.

Chowdhury grew uparound paddy field, a village of West Bengal. It is a strange coincidence that the withdrawal of the allthree agriculture reform bills took place on Salilda’s birthday. The farmers won, their demands were met even on Salilda’s birthday. If he had survived, Salilda would have written new songs for the farmers, this is what comes from the heart of the great musician and composer Debojyoti Mishra.

Mishra says, “In fact, Salilda was a friend of the common people. I have seen Salilda how deep it is to keep in touchwith people. It‘s like a thread from his finger to my finger. I am trying out to carry the legacy. The horrible situation we have seen around the world over the last two years, it is hard to measure how much Corona’s hand hasleft in our daily lives. I came and stood there because everyone was involved in that thread. I saw Salilda discussing with the vegetable sellers, how the yield was going, the farmers were looking for the basic things. His music has inspired people, even today. The field of work also used to make music with the help of many people. Choirs, musicians were all composing songs so that how many people were joining was like watching, learning. Even today I try to do the work with as many people as I can.

Debojyoti Mishra

In fact, despite being such a great composer, he never behaved like a big celebrity. He had to blend in with everyone. Used to do for everyone. Today, in such a difficult time, I remember these aspects of his more. 19 November is also my birthday. I have learned a lot in my life from him. In it, Salilda has taught me how to live together with everyone. The joy of living with everyone is more important than livingaway from others, thinking of yourself as a celebrity. This Salil Chowdhury is just as important in my lifeas the musician Salil Chowdhury. He had a dream to set up an institution to nurture future generation composers where people who are thinking about music, composition, they can learn in details.

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Fingers with emotional faces

However, that idea did not come true. But I made an Institution Sangeet Pathshala that I said is tied to that thread. The legacy I am trying to carry forward.”

With inputs from Sudipta Chanda

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