In conversation with Koimoi.com Editor Komal Nahta, award-winning Bollywood music composer Amit Trivedi (Dev D, Wake Up Sid, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu) spills the beans on what it takes to make a hit music album.
Amit you won the National Award for your first work as music director in Dev D. How did you feel?
Actually I was in the studio when someone sent me a message, “congrats dude on the national award.” I couldn’t believe it; it took some three to four days to sink in… until I saw the news coming on television.
How did you get a chance to work with Anurag Kashyap in Dev D?
My friend, singer Shilpa Rao, met Anurag Kashyap at Miami Film Festival where he told her that he is looking for a fresh music director for Dev D. Later she called me and I met Anurag sir. He briefed me on scenes, provided some ideas and asked me to do the music. I came back home, took around six months and created around six tracks based on the briefs he had provided. I shared them with Anurag sir; he loved my work and that is how it (the album) happened.
After Dev D, do people call you when they need different music and sounds?
Yes it happens. Actually I make what comes to me naturally. The fact that later it is found to be different and unique by people is something I am happy about. This is what I did in Dev D, Udaan and Wake Up Sid.
In this industry artists get stamped for a certain kind of work which gets popular. Has it happened with you?
Not really, like my work In Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is not experimental or out of the box, it goes with the narrative and the flow of the film.
The song ‘Emotional Atyachar’ was a huge hit. Do producers ask you for the same kind of song again?
Thankfully not; I think the filmmakers I have worked with are smart enough to understand that it should not be repeated as it will kill the novelty. It is like if anybody does another Munni or Sheila it cannot be exciting any more.
Since when did you get attracted to music?
Since my childhood – I used to do music for theatre before 10 or 12 years and then I shifted to advertising work. I believe I have been doing this since I became conscious.
Have you been through any formal training in music?
I have not been through any formal training but a little of Jazz training. I think it (music) is more about passion than formal training.
While some music directors do composition only, you do both composition and background music for films. Tell us about this dual job.
I love doing background score for the films. However, I feel composing a song is more challenging whereas the background score can be picked from the themes and elements of the songs and, thus, it becomes easier to do.
While recording songs, are you able to predict a chartbuster song?
I can’t, but the director and producer feel it. When I composed Emotional Atyachar, I actually hated the song and thought it will just pass off (as average) but then, I was proved wrong. Later, I realised that people liked it because it was different. But again, there is no formula to predict a hit song.
How do you choose the singers?
After composing a melody, I feel instantly that I would like to hear a particular voice in a particular song.
Do you prefer working on the tunes first and then fitting the lyrics or composing music on the lyrics given?
Tunes first, in fact the lyricists I have worked with like Amitabh (Bhattacharya) and Swanand (Kirkire) also ask for the tunes first. I do it other way around as well, like I did it for Chillar Party.
The song ‘Tai Tai Phish’ was loved by children, was it composed with Ranbir Kapoor in mind?
The song was composed three years ago for a different character, Fatka, in the film, but then Vikas (Bahl) came to me and said Ranbir wants to do an item song on it. So I changed it a little and recreated the first few lines.
On an average how much time it takes to complete a film album with five or six songs?
It takes a lot of time and since I do the arranging and background score myself, it leaves very little time to do other things like ads or live shows, which I would love to do otherwise.
Have you stopped doing advertisements and jingles owing to your busy schedule?
No, I still get some time. Like last year, I did a jingle for Fanta and recently one for Dish TV campaign but I can’t do much now because films take a lot of my time.