Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Annexe

Sunil Ganguly
June 24, 2008, 7:19 pm
Filed under: India

Are Diwano Mujhe Pehchano

Sunil Ganguly was born at Sonamura village in Tripura, which is a state in North East India. He was one of the first musicians to popularize guitar in Bengali music in the early 1960’s, but then he switched to mainly release recordings of popular Bollywood songs on steel guitar. He is widely considered to be the best and set the standard for all who followed him. It has been said that “his instrument seemed to sing like a human voice”.

Surprisingly, the best information I was able to find was from

One of the most respected Hawaiian electric guitarists in the Indian sub-continent is the Late Sunil Ganguly. Coming from a modest background, Ganguly developed his very own style of playing the instrument. No matter what he played, his instrument seemed to sing like a human voice. For years his recordings have formed the basis of many aspiring guitarists in the country in terms of style and technique. Nuances were a child’s play for Ganguly and he never went overboard doing it.

Ganguly’s repertoire ranged from classical based songs to Hindi movie hits and from traditional folk songs to those composed by the greats like Dr. Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Major labels like HMV and Concord Records have recorded and released at least one album of Sunil Ganguly every year starting from late sixties / early seventies till about a year or two before he passed away.

There were years when Radio Ceylon and All India Radio used to regularly broadcast his recordings which actually used to be a motivating factor for many aspiring young guitarists.

The Indian style of playing the Hawaiian Guitar is based around Ganguly’s style and most of his contemporaries used to discreetly copy his style or claim to be based around Ganguly’s school of playing.

Many references to Ganguly can be found on the internet and there are some interesting comparisons made. Perhaps it was due to Sunil Ganguly that the Hawaiian guitar rose to popularity in India but alas in these days of electronic music, the instrument’s popularity has dwindled. Of course, there are still some who would like to promote the instrument, post-Ganguly. Newer styles and newer techniques have come up and some of them are again from India (Brij Bhushan Kabra, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt etc.).

This song was originally from the 1978 movie Don, which was a very popular Bollywood film that has reach cult status outside of India. The movie was recently remade as Don – The Chase Begins Again in 2006.

Since the initial post, this song was included on the “Bollywood Steel Guitar” compilation on Sublime Frequencies.

Sunil Ganguly passed away at the age of 62 in Calcutta in 1999.

Catalog number S/MOCE 3015 EMI of India, manufactured and distributed by The Gramophone Company of India Limited in 1979.



Is there any video CD providing the music of Hawaiian guitar played by Sunil Ganguly?

Comment by Romel

I do not know of any video footage of Sunil. There are a few CDs of his music from the 80s that you can find online.

Comment by radiodiffusion

is there any song called “feeling uncomfortable” by sunil ganguly or by gautam dasgupta? i have this i saw it here but i don’t find that track.

Comment by marcos

Can’t say that I’ve heard of that one. It may have been on one of their later albums. I do not have any of their records after about 1986 or so…

Comment by radiodiffusion

I would like to know …where can I buy Sunil Gunguly’s music, and Van Shipley’s ?

Comment by Sunita

Other than the Bollywood Steel Guitar compilation on Sublime Frequencies, some of Sunil Ganguly’s later recordings are available on CD, and can be found online. As for Van Shipley, all I have ever seen is from a company called Hamara sells custom CDs where you pick which songs you would like.

Comment by radiodiffusion

I buy from Shreematis, Univ of California, Berkeley, bookstore. I do not have Sunil Ganguly’s “Puja” released in 1993. I do not know from where to buy.

Comment by Padmakar Srivastava

Sunil Ganguly the only name in guitar…..can not be compared with other guitarist. As his playings all are happens that human cry…but strings could cry..only made possible by the Leagend..Sunil Ganguly…he will be living in our heart so long we will alive…. .comment by Malay Sarkar ( disiple of Guru Sunil Ganguly)

Comment by Malay Sarkar

Sunil Ganguly was the authority on hawain guitar and was the person of inspiration for many instrumental players. The sound of his instrument was unique. I personally attracted with his playing and started playing the guitar. I have been listening to him from child hood of 13 years. Today I am playing the mohan veena, it is all his play inspired me to take up the guitar as my profession in hindustani classical music. I also play hindi songs on hawain guitar.
Its of the great loss for the indian music industry.

Comment by mallikarjuna.m.kolvi

Dear Sunil Ganguly fans I have recently bought a double neck Hawaiian Guitar similar to Sunil Ganguly’s guitar. Can any one provide me the tuning of each fret board.

I have tuned the first neck to “SA PA GA SA PA SA” and the second fret board to “SA DHA MA SA MA SA” ( Left to Right – Thinnest string to Thickest String). which may not be correct. I tuned the note SA with fundamental C of the accordion and can play many hindi songs. However I want use the correct tuning.

Comment by Rakesh Sharma

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