Sunil Ganguly

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Sunil Ganguly
Sunil Ganguly (Steel Guitarist)
Born (1938-01-01)1 January 1938
Died 12 June 1999(1999-06-12) (aged 61)
Nationality Indian
Occupation Steel Guitarist
Known for Indian Instrumental Music
Awards Asian Paints Shiromani award for contribution to music

Sunil Ganguly (Bengali: সুনীল গাঙ্গুলি; 1 January 1938 – 12 June 1999) was an Indian instrumentalist from the city of Kolkata (Calcutta) who played the Hawaiian electric guitar.[1] He produced many 78 RPM, SP, EP, Super-7, LP discs, audio cassettes and CDs from HMV, Concord Records and Sagarika including classical-based songs like "Yaad piya ki aaye". He made records of Indian Hindi film songs, classical based songs, and Bengali songs, and popularised the Hawaiian guitar in India, with his unique style and his accurate renditions enabled by his background in classical music. His renditions often had subtle twists and turns that made it even more melodious than the original song. At his peak, there used to be two LPs released during the Pujas every year by HMV, one containing songs by Lata Mangeshkar, and the other having instrumentals by Sunil Ganguly.[2] The film hits he recorded were instant hits with the youth.[3] Sunil Ganguly did many public performances all over India, including Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Guwahati etc, including programs in classical music. He did one-man whole night shows in Mumbai, played in reputed College fests like the IITs, RECs. Some of the best musicians of the era, like Sri Y S Mulki, Sri Dilip Roy, Sri Samir Khasnabis, Sri Swapan Sen, Sri Manohari Singh accompanied him on his recordings and performances. He was a regular performer at Doordarshan programs (TV) in Kolkata and Mumbai, AIR (All India Radio),[4] Radio Ceylon (Sri Lanka). His radio programs (like Saaz aur Awaz on Radio Ceylon[5][6]) were popular and were listened to by many all over India, and this program continues to this date. He inspired an entire young generation to play Indian music on the Hawaiian guitar. He had many number of successful students, who are continuing his style of playing songs and in turn are coaching students in India and abroad.[7][8]
Ganguly was born at Sonamura village in Tripura on 1 January 1938.[9] He moved with his parents to Kolkata in his childhood. He had a fondness for the Hawaiian guitar from a very early age. At the insistence of his relatives he participated in All India Youth Guitar competition which was quite well known at the time, and came first, to his own amazement, by playing 'Kya karoon Sajani, Aye na Balam'. Present at the competition was Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He was so moved by the rendition, he went up on the stage and embraced Sunil Ganguly and expressed his amazement at how such a song could be rendered on the Guitar. He then recommended Sunil Ganguly's name to All India Radio / Akashvani with a letter, and this is how Sunil Ganguly started playing on radio.[10] At this time he trained in Western music under Oscar Jones, a reputed teacher in Calcutta at that time. But this could not satisfy him. He was fond of Indian classical music, and used to attend the music conferences. Many a times he could not afford to buy a ticket, and hence used to listen from the pavements outside (as narrated by him in his last interview to Bartaman magazine). He later trained under the sitarist Pt. Ajoy Sinha Roy, who himself was a direct disciple of Baba Alauddin Khan. Ganguly, therefore, had a profound knowledge of North Indian Classical music. He developed a style of playing Classical Raga-based dhuns and gats on the Hawaiian guitar, which was his own unique style. He was the first to bring in the 'gayaki' style of playing which was non-existent at the time, and this led to the huge popularity of the instrumentals he rendered on the Hawaiian guitar, be it classical based film songs,[11] ghazals, Tagore songs, Nazrul songs, or other popular songs. He played a wide variety of songs in his career, including Hindi film songs, rare songs of Lata Mangeshkar, Ghazals, by Jagjit Singh, Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Bengali film songs, Tagore songs, Nazrulgeeti, Bengali songs of prominent composers like Satinath Mukhopadhyay, Shyamal Mitra, Hemanta Mukherjee, Bihu songs in Assamese language[12] etc.[13][14] He made many number of compositions and dhuns based on various Ragas, and he used these to train his students for number of years before they were allowed to play a song.[15] Ganguly also had a sharp background of Western music, including chords. He was very fond of the Spanish guitar and chords. Whenever he used to teach a song to his students, it used to be complete with interlude music, chords, and some of these interludes (for ex: the sitar piece in the song 'Hum hai mataye koochao Bazaar ki Tarah'[16] or the chords in the song "Pal Pal Dil ke Paas") were quite intricate and high in complexity. Sunil Ganguly was very detailed with his notations and created notations for every accompanying musician before playing a song. There has been instances when, in a music program at Guwahati, he has been requested a popular song for which he was unprepared. He quickly created notations of the song and played it with perfection.

His recording career spanned more than 40 years from 1956, when he cut his first album from HMV. The famous Bengali singer and composer of that era, Sri Satinath Mukhopadhyay played a major role in introducing Sunil Ganguly to HMV. The incident goes : Satinath babu listened Ganguly's rendition of his composition 'Koto nishi gechhe nidhara' sung by Lata Mangeshkar, on Akashbani (radio) and being amazed, called upon Ganguly and inquired how he got to learn this song. Ganguly replied : he did not learn from anybody, it was his own rendition by listening to the song. Satinath babu immediately recognized his talent and decided to introduce Sunil Ganguly to HMV for cutting his first album. That was the beginning and Ganguly did not have to look back after that.[17] Towards the later part of his career, Sunil Ganguly made a few beautiful albums from Concorde records and Sagarika Co. (For ex: 'Ei Sundor Swarnali Sondhay (Bengali hits like 'Jibon Khatar prati patay'), 'Bhora thak Smritisudhay (Tagore songs)' from Sagarika, 'Instrumental Film Hits - containing hits from Betaab, Agar Tum na Hote' from Concord). HMV and Sagarika released some of his best instrumentals in the form of CD, for ex: 'Nostalgia : Ghazal Chedi Usne, Great Ghazals on guitar', 'Nostalgia : Melodies to caress your Heart 'N' Soul', 'Tumi Rabe Nirobe', 'Instrumentally Yours - Tribute to Manna Dey', 'The Best of Bollywood Instrumentals Ever'[18] from HMV (now Saregama Ltd), 'Yaadein' ( containing hits of Kishore Kumar and Md. Rafi), 'Golden greats from Yesteryears' from Sagarika. Saregama has also released many of this instrumentals on Youtube,[19] and is still doing, and also many of his instrumentals are available for download at a price on Saregama site. Sunil Ganguly was very detail oriented. For every recording he personally used to supervise and create scripts for all accompanying musicians. Some of his remarkable records include 'Ghazal chedi usne' - an album of instrumentals of ghazals by prominent singers such as Mehdi Hassan, Jagjit Singh, Ghulam Ali,[20]'Ibteda' - an album of compositions by Jagjit Singh,[21]'The Classic Touch','Sentimental Journey',[22]'The Golden Collection - All Time Greats, Vol I and II','Swinging hits',[19]'More hits','Magic Melody','Instrumental Film Hits','Sunil Ganguly (the name of the album used to be his name)','The Singing Guitar' - with Kazi Anirudha, 'Encore - Electric Guitar','Renaissance - Tunes of Kazi Nazrul Islam on the guitar (the first album he did on Kazi Nazrul Islam songs)' , 'Khelicho E Biswa Loye - Nazrulgeeti tunes', 'Surer Jharna - instrumental of Bengali hits', 'Tribute to Hemanta Mukherjee - Hemanta Mukherjee songs' etc. His instrumentals are available on HMV India(Saregama),[23] Amazon,[24],[25][26] iTunes store,[27] and youtube.[28]

He was active in giving music classes at his residence, and in doing recordings, until the last week before his sad demise. He took music classes at several institutions in Kolkata like BaniChakra (South Kolkata), Technique Studio (North Kolkata), in addition to the ones at his residence in Garia. Students used to come from far away places to his residence classes, including places like Asansol, Durgapur, Odisha. He was revered by his students, and was a strict disciplinarian. His way of teaching was very methodical, using Indian notation system (originally created by Rabindranath Tagore, and used in all his works). The notations that he created for his large number of classical Raaga based dhuns, and the songs he played, were very detailed, and intricate. Within one beat, meends with as many as 5 or 7 notes were common. Students had to practice classical Raaga based dhuns and gats for quite a few years before playing a song. There was no excuse of less practice in his classes, and there was no way to advance to a next lesson before getting the current lesson right with the tabla and with proper playing style. Some of the songs had complex interlude music and the song had to be played in totality with the tabla. Unless he was satisfied about the total presentation he would not go to a more complex piece. He did not encourage performing in the media at any time. According to him, the guitar is to be played like a prayer, to derive true happiness. He was an ardent follower of Swami Vivekananda till his last day. Sunil Ganguly had many disciples, many of whom took the guitar as a profession. Many of them do not have any presence on the Internet. Notable among the students who are performing currently are Smt Geeta Deb,[29] Sri Shyamal Chowdhury,[30] Smt Sonali Nath,[8] and Sri Aloke Ghosh.[7] The music classes based on his way of teaching are kept going by the creation of Sunil Ganguly Academy of Music,[31][32][33][34] after his sad demise.[35] This is being nurtured by his disciples like Smt Sonali Nath, Smt Geeta Deb, Sri Shyamal Chowdhury and Sri Aloke Ghosh to this date.


An incomplete listing of his published recordings:

His HMV / EMI Records label include
  • Sunil Ganguly - Thumris of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib 78RPM (1960) M87561
  • Sunil Ganguly - Bengali Adhunik 78RPM (1962) M87571
  • Sunil Ganguly - Hindi Film Tunes EP (P?) EMOE1023
  • Sunil Ganguly - Hindi Film Tunes EP (1967) TAE1405
  • Sunil Ganguly - Hindi Film Tunes EP (1968) TAE1467
  • Sunil Ganguly - Hindi Film Tunes EP (P?) TAE1554
  • Sunil Ganguly - Hindi Film Tunes SP (1970) 45N87602
  • Sentimental Journey LP (1970) 3AEX5321
  • Sunil Ganguly - Hindi Film Tunes EP (1971) EMOE1016
  • Singing Guitars LP (with Kazi Aniruddha on Side A) (1973) S/MOCE 3004
  • Sunil Ganguly Plays Reminiscential Melodies of Lata Mangeshkar LP (1974) S/MOCE 3006
  • Sunil Ganguly - Hindi Film Tunes SUPER7 (1974) S7LPE108
  • More Hits LP (1976) S/MOCE 3007
  • Magic Melody LP (1977) S/MOCE 3010
  • Encore! LP (1978) S/MOCE 3011
  • Sunil Ganguly LP (1979) S/MOCE 3015
  • The Classic Touch LP (1980) S/MOCE 3016
  • Swinging Hits LP (1981) S/MOCE 3018
  • Tumi Rabe Nirabe (Tunes from Rabindrasangeet) LP (1981) ECSD2620
  • Tunes from Hindi Film Kranti LP (1981) S/45NLP2040
  • Sunil Ganguly LP (1982) S/MOCE 3020
  • Ghazal Chhedi Usne LP (1983) ECSD41524
His Concord Records Lebel include
  • Instrumental Film Hits LP (1984) 04 0001
  • Renaissance (Tunes from Najrulgeeti) LP (1984) 04 0001
Cassettes from HMV (RPG Enterprises)
  • Ibteda Ever melodious compositions of Jagjit Singh on Electric Hawaaian Guitar (1993) SPHOS 23211
  • The Golden Collection – All Time Greats – Sunil Ganguly Vols 1 and 2 (1994) STHV 842607 and 842608
  • Khelicho e biswha loye – Songs of Nazrul on Electric Guitar (1991) SPHOS 23129
  • Tumi Rabe Nirobe – Tunes of Tagore songs on Electric Guitar (1981) SPHOS 842697
  • Surer akashe tumi je go suktara (Tribute to Hemanta Mukhopadhyay) (1991) SPHOS 23137
  • Surer Jharna – Bengali instrumentals on Electric Guitar (1992) SPHOS 23156
Cassettes from Sagarika Acoustronics
  • Ei sundar swarnali sandhyay – Bengali film songs on Guitar (1996) 31071
  • Bhara thak smriti sudhai – Tagore songs on electric Guitar (1996) 31072
Cassettes from Concord Records
  • RENAISSANCE – Sunil Ganguly plays melodies of Kazi Nazrul Islam on Electric Guitar (1984) CB 02 03
  • FIREWORKS – Instrumental Film Hits (1986) 04004
CDs from HMV (Saregama Ltd) include
  • Nostalgia Melodies to caress your Heart 'N' Soul (2001) – CDF 130310
  • Nostalgia Melodies to caress your Heart 'N' Soul Ghazal Chhedi Usne, Great Ghazals on Guitar(2001) – CDF 130311
CDs from Sagarika Acoustronics
  • Golden Greats of Yesteryears (1996) – C600015
  • Yaadein (A tribute to Mohd. Rafi and Kishore Kumar) (1993) – MILS 012
Digital albums
  • Melodies Forever -[36]
  • Instrumental - Kazi Anirudha and Sunil Ganguly[37]
  • Sunil Ganguly - Puja 93 [38]
  • Sentimental Journey [39]
  • Surer Akashe Tumi Je Go Suktara [40]
  • The Classic Touch [41]
  • All Time Greats - Sunil Ganguly [42]
  • Tumi Rabe Nirabe [43]
  • Sunil Ganguly Nazrul Tunes [44]


  1. ^ "Brad's Page of Steel - Indian Steel Guitar". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  2. ^ The Gramophone Company of India (HMV) Records Listing Archived 17 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Sunil Ganguly (1 January 1980). "Sunil Ganguly Bollywood Steel Guitar". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via Internet Archive. 
  4. ^ mozarttijira (17 November 2014). "Milon Gupta (Harmonica) & Sunil Ganguly (Steel Guitar) - All India Radio". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  5. ^ eraksoldies (11 February 2017). "Radio Ceylon 12-02-2017~Sunday Morning~01 Saaz Aur Awaaz". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  6. ^ "Radio Ceylon 20-11-2016~Sunday Morning~01 Saaj Aur Awaaj". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Anirban K (18 September 2015). "A Guitar class at the residence of Sri Sunil Ganguly taken by Sri Alok Ghosh". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ "Guitarist Ganguli dead". The Tribune. 14 June 1999. Retrieved 1 April 2007. 
  10. ^ as narrated by Sunil Ganguly himself to his prominent student Sri Aloke Ghosh
  11. ^ Sunil Ganguly - Topic (25 September 2014). "Man Tadpat Hari Darshan". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  12. ^ Partha Pal (18 June 2015). "SUNIL GANGULY GUITAR - GUPUTI GUPTI KIMAN KHELIM". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  13. ^ Sibaram Dutta (3 October 2013). "SUNIL GANGULY-- RARE COLLECTION-- ELECTRIC GUITAR". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  14. ^ Old Hindi Songs (12 June 2013). "Best Of Sunil Ganguly - Electric Guitar Version - Bollywood Songs - Audio Jukebox". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  15. ^ Anirban K (12 February 2017). "Aloke Ghosh taking class at Sir's residence (Sunil Ganguly)". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  16. ^ Anirban K (12 February 2017). "Aloke Ghosh taking class at Sir's (Sunil Ganguly's) residence". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  17. ^ Interview to 'Bartaman'
  18. ^ sbritt (19 May 2010). "Sunil Ganguly "Amar Akbar Anthony"". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  19. ^ a b "Sunil Ganguly - Topic". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  20. ^ talhari13 (10 February 2012). "Chupke Chupke Raat Din Aanso - Guitar [Sunil Ganguly]". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  21. ^ Sunil Ganguly - Topic (5 December 2015). "Mere Tanhaiyo Guitar". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  22. ^ Sunil Ganguly - Topic (25 August 2014). "Aj Hoon Na Aye". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  23. ^ "Sunil Ganguly , Old Hindi Songs, Buy Sunil Ganguly albums". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  24. ^ " Sunil Ganguly". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  25. ^ "Saavn - Hindi Songs Free Download, Old, Latest, New, mp3, Bollywood Music, Online". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  26. ^ "Sunil Ganguly". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  27. ^ "Sunil Ganguly on Apple Music". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  28. ^ Old Hindi Songs (24 July 2015). "Remembering Sunil Ganguly - HD Songs JukeBox". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  29. ^ Geeta 2 (27 October 2016). "Jivan dor tumhi sang by Geeta Deb - Guitar Instrumental". Retrieved 20 April 2017 – via YouTube. 
  30. ^ "Shyamal Chowdhury". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Melody Forever". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  37. ^ "Instrumental - Kazi Aniruddha And Sunil Ganguly by Various Artistes". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  38. ^ "Sunil Ganguly Puja 93 by Various Artistes". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  39. ^ "Sentimental Journey - Sunil Ganguly by Various Artistes". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  40. ^ "Surer Akashe Tumi Je Go Shuktara Sunil Ganguly by Various Artistes". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  41. ^ "The Classic Touch Sunil Ganguly by Various Artistes". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  42. ^ "Sunil Ganguly - All Time Greats by Various Artistes". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  43. ^ "Tumi Rabe Neerabe by Various Artistes". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  44. ^ "Sunil Ganguly Nazrul Tunes by Various Artistes". Retrieved 20 April 2017.