Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Unknown Celebrity: Sunil Ganguly

From the opening glassy tingles of Om Shanti Om, ace Indian electric guitarist, Sunil Ganguly, lets his listeners know that he has come for one thing only.  To swing.  

The course was pretty much pre-determined by the record label: Bollywood hits only thank you. Nothing adventurous, please, we are the Titans of Indian Industry.

Within that straight jacket however, Sri Ganguly from Tripura and latterly, Calcutta, manages to demonstrate his skills as guitarist and arranger.  His tone is always crystal clear and his fingers never fearful of pushing out the vibrato so vital to Hawaiian electric guitar.  With the tabla he mixes gentle string quartets and on the more up-tempo numbers, like the opener, tosses in electric organ and horns to make everything as cool as a plate of faluda on a July’s morning. On Hari Om Hari Sunil seems to be truly playing from outerspace with all sorts of weird mechanical squeals bubbling through the ether.

His selection of Swinging Hits is top notch too. The rocking Laila O Laila (Qurbani) one of Indian cinema’s early disco megahits. Two plaintive Kishore Kumar (a fellow Ganguly) hits Choo Kar Mere Man ko (Yaarana) and Hamen Tumse Pyar Kitna soar to new heights of melancholy and longing. 

Sadly, people like Ganguly remained largely anonymous to the public. Their music was everywhere: cinemas, skating rinks, swanky restaurants and airline departure lounges. But the man himself was known by name only to those in the elite circle of musicians in Bombay and Calcutta.  You don’t make a living from pop music in India. You are wealthy and then pursue your passion, which in a very Hindu way also meant (in that age of quaint innocence) eschewing unseemly attributes of celebrity like screaming teens and fan clubs.


            Track Listing:
            01 Om Shanti Om
02 Hamen Tumse Pyar Kitna
03 Shisha Ho Ya Dil Ho
04 Choo Kar Mere Man Ko
05 Salamat Rahe Dostana
06 Hari Om Hari
07 John Jani Janardhan
08 Yaad Aa Rahi Hai
09 Maar Gai Mujhe Teri Judai
10 Laila O Laila
11 Bhor Bhaye Panchh
12 Yamma Yamma

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