10 Unforgettable Salil Chowdhry hits

The golden era of Bollywood was ruled by many extraordinarily talented artists. Perhaps not as well known as the rest of his contemporaries, Salil Chowdhry was definitely one of them. Accomplished on the flute, esraj, violin and piano, Salil da was also a poet and a playwright. His strength was in the fact that he mastered different genres and instruments always innovating in his own compositions. He was greatly influenced by his father who used to stage plays with the villagers and the labourers reflecting the plight and social conditions of the time. Around the same time he joined the Indian People Theatre Association(IPTA) which eventually led him to the world of Cinema. Starting his career in Bengali cinema, Salil da made his mark as a music director with his very first Hindi movie Do Bigha Zameen. And then there was no looking back. Immortalized in the cult classics, the fun numbers, the classical masterpieces, his music still garners the same attention as it did years ago.
The following are some of the most unforgettable hits that have cemented their place in the record books of Indian Cinema as musical treasures:

Mausam beeta jaye, Do Bigha Zameen(1954)
This song sets the tone for the rest of the movie. And when the rest of the movie is Do Bigha Zameen, that is a huge statement. It grips your attention right at the beginning and makes sure you feel like you are part of the story. This was Salil da’s first Hindi movie and he composed the music along with writing the story. It won the international prize at Cannes film festival that year.

Dil tadap tadap ke, Madhumati(1958)
Dilip Kumar, Mukesh, the walk through the hills, not to mention Vyjayanti mala and Lata Mangeshkar, this one had a lot going for it. Probably one of the best musical hits of its time Madhumati saw both Salil Chowdhry and Lata at their peaks with Aaja re pardesi and Chadh gayo paapi bichhua. But this song of course takes the cake thanks to Mukesh and Dilip Kumar.


Jaago mohan pyare, Jagte Raho(1956)
With this song Lata Mangeshkar set a standard that probably even she couldn’t reach again, let alone others. The huge orchestra, the chorus, Salil da was an accomplished arranger. He brought everything together and made sure every aspect fit in its place like in this song where so many elements come together to form a beautiful sound.

Ae dil kahan teri manzil, Maya(1961)
This is an amazing mixture of Indian and western classical styles. Lata’s interlude lingers in your head long after you’ve heard the song. And Dwijen Sen who sounds strikingly similar to Hemant kumar combined with the incredible Devanand only makes it more soulful.

Na jaane kyun, Chhoti Si Baat(1975)
Chhoti si baat was a beautiful little poem in motion that seemed to have jumped right out of our lives. And the music was in perfect rhyme with the performances, the story, the dialogues, this song being the cherry on top. This song is an example of the amazing Salil-Lata combination which created musical gems every single time.

O sajna, Parakh(1960)
This is probably one of Lata Mangeshkar's best works. Also the composition of this song is not the traditional Antara-mukhda style but something called the sanchari format which Salil da had so much expertise of that other bengali music directors hardly ever tried this format fearing their comparison with the master.

Zindagi Khwab hai, Jagte Raho(1956)
Another timeless classic that was way ahead of its time in terms of the lyrics as well as composition. Performed by Mukesh, this song shows again how vital music is to Indian cinema. The right song at the right time and you end up feeling exactly what the characters are feeling.


Aake seedhi lagi dil pe, Half Ticket(1962)
Kishore Kumar’s rendition, Pran’s dance moves, this is the stuff that legends are made of. I shudder to think of a Bollywood without this song. Kishore Kumar apparently convinced an apprehensive Salil da that he would sing both the male and female parts of the song and that is how ladies and gentleman, a classic was made.  

Ae mere pyare watan, Kabuliwala(1961)
This is a song that we’ve all heard repeatedly from time to time. While the movie Kabuliwala in itself is a masterpiece, this song stands out thanks to Balraj Sahni, the cult status and of course the voice of Manna da moving like liquid gold.

      Zindagi kaisi hai paheli, Anand(1971)
Anand was a movie in which everything seemed to work at perfection. Hrishikesh Mukherji shot this film in just 28 days. The soundtrack in itself is nothing short of  a work of art. This song was first proposed as the background for the titles but Rajesh Khanna convinced Hrishikesh da that it would be a shame to waste such a good track as in those days the title tracks weren’t played much on the radio. Manna dey, Rajesh Khanna, the ocean and the saxophone, this song just never gets old.  


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