Abhishek Ray has been composing music for as long as he can remember. The youngster has films like Paan Singh Tomar, Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster and the recent release Prem Mayee to his credit, among others.
You recently got Shreya Ghoshal to render her first rock song in a Hindi film.
The song featured in the recent release Prem Mayee. I came up with this hard rock track Palchinn that was sung by Shreya and me in a live unplugged rock concert. It was a rage on the Internet. I was keen to make Shreya do something she had not done in a film track before. And she, too, was excited about it. Though the film was about an intimate relationship, I wanted one song to stand out and it had to be rock.
These days, every film has at least three to four music composers. Does this work for a film?
Yes, it’s happening and maybe works for the economics of a film. But this is a fragmented approach to music composing. It is the music that holds the film together. But most often songs are composed and shot in isolation and then used in the film.
You mean item numbers?
Item numbers are great too. I loved Chikni Chameli. But the music has to match the mood of the film. In one film there can be several types of songs too. They only want kaan khade karne wale gaane nowadays. But there has to be a dhun first which will give the audience a hint of the theme coming their way.
How did you start in B-Town?
I made my debut in films with Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Haasil. I have scored the music for television shows as well for several music albums. My first album was Udaas Paani with Gulzar.
You seem to draw a lot of inspiration from Hindi literature.
Prem Mayee features lines from the legends of Hindi literature. The title song is based on Mahadevi Verma’s poetry. Apart from this the album boasts of a Saraswati Vandana written by Nirala done in form of a symphony. The film’s director Shekhar S Jha had the courage and faith to approve songs with pure melody and poetic appeal in times where double meaning songs rule the roost.
You seem keen to bring back the classic touch in melodies?
Yes. In Paan Singh Tomar I had blended central Indian folk with grand symphonies. The song Chand Taare from I Am Kalam was used as the main promotional song. At the same time I did the funky title track of Yeh Saali Zindagi to capture the gritty and unpredictable mood of Sudhir Mishra’s film.
How do you compose music?
It is a highly creative process. You have to know the mood, the subject and the situation in the film. You then go about weaving the rhythm. It could be dark, romantic or classic. These are the tools with which I compose music.
What do you enjoy most - singing, writing lyrics, or composing?
Composing music. I am an occasional singer and lyricist.
What are your forthcoming projects?
I am particularly looking forward to the film Life Is Good in which I have made Asha Bhosle croon a rain symphony song.
A lot of Bollywood tracks are rip-offs of international numbers.
Not for me - a composer has to be original and versatile.