'Brought together, this trio can crack any genre'
From making bit-sized jingles, to eight-hour web shows, Bandish Bandits composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy on meeting industry's evolving demands
After repeatedly offering content that is markedly superior than its cinematic counterpart, OTT platforms could perhaps also offer solace to music aficionados who seek melodies that are free from commercial trappings. Following AR Rahman's foot-tapping soundtrack that elevated Dil Bechara, starring Sushant Singh Rajput, next week's release, Bandish Bandits will see the web debut of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.
"This is a new experience for us," says Mahadevan of the long-format narrative that explores the stories of two protagonists with distinct music sensibilities. "It's a 10-part series. We began our journey with 30-second jingles, moved on to creating two-hour long films, and now, [we're creating] music for eight-hour shows." The relatively new platform, he says, also comes with its set of fresh challenges. With a movie being in and out of theatres within weeks, they can usually simply focus on the project at hand. "In the case of a series, we need to consider how it will play-out after a couple of months as well, [because web shows are leisurely consumed]."
Anand Tiwari's directorial venture for Amazon Prime Video features Ritwik Bhowmik as a Hindustani classical performer and Shreya Chaudhry as a pop-star, along with a supporting cast comprising Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Sheeba Chaddha and Rajesh Tailang. In order to meet its music demands, the makers knew they could only turn to this trio to do justice to the distinct genres. "The three of us can tackle any genre that exists on this planet. The beauty of this show is that there are so many forms of music, including classical, folk, pop, in play. So, it is exciting for us since we have the scope to experiment. Also, we're looking at a global market; we need not only consider Indian [sensibilities]."
If the narrative provided them with the opportunity to exploit their talent, the musicians count themselves fortunate to have the finest cast enhance their creation. "When the character of Pandit [played by Naseeruddin Shah] was narrated, we were certain that we wanted to feature Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty. We've always wanted to work with him. When we learnt that Naseer saab was playing the role, we were delighted. It is owing to his greatness that he adapted to Pandit sa'ab's singing."
Apart from the 12-odd full-fledged tracks, the trio peppered the offering with abundant melodic moments that viewers can indulge in. "You'll see scenes being [influenced by music], like when someone does riyaaz, teaches music, or jams. Apart from pure Indian classical music [like Sajan bin], there are pop, fusion, folk and Rajashthani elements," says Mahadevan, as Loy Mendonsa adds that it was Mahadevan's background in Indian classical music that enabled him to "catch finer aspects of the [genre] and bring that to the table."
In an industry where egos fly high, the trio has stood the test of time to complete over 25 years in Bollywood. Bound by their love for music, Noorani says it is their ability to hold their own that has kept them together. "We are respectful of one other's inputs. I have seen many bands dismembered in as little as seven years due to ego issues. We are here to serve a bigger [endeavour]. Millions love our music, so we owe it to them."
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