Amit Trivedi: Musicals shouldn't fail
Having delivered the celebrated soundtrack of Manmarziyaan, Amit Trivedi reflects on why the genre rarely finds success in Bollywood
Applauding its music just as much as they are the finesse with which Anurag Kashyap captured life in Punjab, cinephiles have Amit Trivedi to thank for the authenticity in the composition of Manmarziyaan. In an interview with mid-day, Trivedi talks about being part of the musical, a genre that, so far, hasn't found its footing in Bollywood, and roping in unique voices for the film.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
This is being touted as Kashyap's first attempt at a romance. Can you talk about composing for it?
Dev.D was a love story too, albeit in a different way. But it's the same genre. This [film] was set in the heartland of Punjab, so the music had to reflect that. The first time that Anurag came with Kanika [Dhillon, writer], the narration went on for long. A while into the chat, he said, 'At this point, we'll have song number seven.' And I was like, 'Oh, saat gaane.' Then he said, 'Then we'll have the interval.' So that was a bigger shock. 'Seven songs, only till the interval?' So, I knew it would be a big project. He decided to take me through the first half only, because there was much to do. It was with the first half that I designed the [character] of Manmarziyaan. Anurag was deeply involved in the process of composition. He coined the term 'F for Fyaar', and asked for a song there. Even for Dariya, he had sent me rushes while filming it, telling me he wanted a song at that point.
Taapsee Pannu and Vicky Kaushal in a still from Manmarziyaan
You've incorporated voices of ordinary folks, including a cop and a teacher in the soundtrack. Why was that decision taken?
It was organic. When I compose a song, I have a particular voice in my mind. For one of them, I wanted a Labh Janjua kind of voice. Unfortunately, he's no more. So I told my team to look out for a voice that has a vibe like his. They did a good job at hunting for it. On YouTube, we found many voices like that, and I picked this one. I told my team to bring him down to Mumbai from Punjab, to which they said that he'll have to apply for leave. That's when I learnt that he was a cop. He handles the cultural aspects of the police department in Punjab.
As for Vijay [Yamla, Punjab University teacher], he's a tumbi player. I called him to play it when, one day, I heard him casually sing. I asked him to sing some more and finally said, 'Great, here's Dhyanchand, please sing it.' He was raw. I love the voice that comes from the heartland. He has a beautiful voice and a good command of the Punjabi language.
There's also a lot of discussion about your work in Ayushmann Khurrana's Andhadhun. That has a Jazz influence, doesn't it?
It's classical. This is the first time I'm exploring the Western classical genre. I'm happy it's come out well. There's a portion of the film that sees Ayushmann play a piece on the piano. He plays the role of a virtuoso. So that segment had to sound great. I had to dig deep to crack that tune, and I enjoyed doing that. For this segment, I also took help from a fantastic [piano] player who helped me refine the tune that I had created so that it sounded like [the work of a] genius.
Before this musical, you've worked on Fanney Khan. If we trace the fate of musicals in Bollywood, it could be argued the genre hasn't worked well.
These questions should be asked to a filmmaker. See, even La La Land had a composer who followed the filmmaker's vision. If he has the right vision, I see no reason for a musical to not work. Ultimately, it's the content [of the film that decides its fate]. With Fanney Khan, we were surprised at the reception. I had only three songs [in the film]. The rest were remixes, which were [included due to] company pressure.
You've been vocal about your displeasure about the trend of rehashing old songs. Why do you think such remixes work today?
I thought about my last quote [Trivedi had reportedly stated that composers rehashing songs 'don't have guts']. I've now concluded that I don't blame anyone. Today, we're exposed to too much entertainment. There are thousand channels on TV, apart from [OTT] platforms. So, how does a filmmaker make noise or tell the audience to watch his film? We live in an era of instant gratification. Makers feel that original compositions may take time to grow on the audience. But remixes have an instant recall [value]. So you're already latched onto it. They help in the opening of the film, especially when you have only four weeks allotted for promotions. It's an easy marketing tool.
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I attain nirvana through music composition: Amit Trivedi