A polio victim who can play 23 musical instruments

Surmounting odds

Ashoke Kumar Seal, 56, has scored music for several foreign short films and is a regular on All India Radio. He has also directed music in several non-commercial radio dramas. He regularly features with popular Bengali singers like Subir Sen, Arati Mukherjee, Indrani Sen, Banoshree Sengupta and Amar Pal.

Now, Seal wants greater recognition from the entertainment industry. “I don’t want any financial help from anyone,” says the bachelor who lives with his elderly mother and a younger sister and brother in a lower middle class house in Kolkata’s Salt Lake area. “The only thing I want is a chance to prove myself by creating good music. I am not asking anyone to give me a chance without listening to my compositions.

“There are ample projects like films, both national and regional, television serials and many creative ventures which require good music. Given a chance I can prove myself,” he says confidently. Polio struck Seal when he was only two years old. But despite his physical and economic constraints, he took to music at a tender age, learning guitar, mandolin, synthesiser and violin.

As years rolled by, his canvas widened — and he created new compositions for those who appreciated his talent. Over the years, he went on to learn a total of 23 musical instruments including jal tarang, santoor, percussion, harmonium, octapad, dhol, tabla, sitar, electric guitar and piano. Some of these he bought, some were gifted to him.
“I learnt all these instruments on my own. So far, I’ve used 23 types of musical instruments in my composition,” Seal said. He composed music for a Czech short film, Love in Forest. Seal won appreciation from US-based film maker David Ullendroff who said: “Ashoke’s music has a very special appeal. I wish all film producers and directors to listen to it.”

None of that has given Seal the break he is seeking. Today, he often broods where he will get the money for the treatment of his mother who recently suffered a cerebral attack.


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