Made the lockdown work to our advantage for A Suitable Boy: Alex Heffes
Co-composer of A Suitable Boy, Alex Heffes talks to mid-day about employing technology to create a score that Nair envisioned as one with universal appeal.
British film composer Alex Heffes collaborates with Mira Nair yet again after Queen of Katwe (2016). Co-composer of A Suitable Boy, Heffes talks to mid-day about employing technology to create a score that Nair envisioned as one with universal appeal.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
How did you come aboard this project?
I have been a fan of the book [A Suitable Boy], and was excited when I heard that Mira [Nair, director] was working on it. She said she wanted to combine [my work] with that of Anoushka [Shankar]. Mira is a match-maker of sorts. She has a vision of how the music should be. For me, it was a dream come true.
What challenges did you face when creating the score for a project that is set in India, a country with a music palette that you may be less familiar with?
I have been to India and am a fan of its music. We had an incredible team of musicians in Mumbai and Delhi. The pandemic struck early on during our working process, and the production swiftly moved online. That turned out to be a blessing. We could collaborate with people across time zones, and record instruments like the basuri and tabla with various artistes. We used the situation to our advantage. [Working on a project] is about understanding the film's requirements, and [the emotions] it hopes to evoke. Mira wanted the sitar to be the sound for Late [protagonist]. As far as my homework is concerned, during the many collaborations that I have done, including the one with Mira in Queen of Katwe, I have listened to a lot of music. When I write [the score] I also like to leave gaps for musicians to [create something of their own]. You always want artistes to bring a part of themselves to the creation.
What was the most exciting part of working on this project, as far as its sound is concerned?
Watching it come together, and then writing the last 30 minutes of the finale episode, where the sounds of all the characters had to be [blended]. We had to weave the individual musical themes and make it a coherent unit. That was challenging, but fun.
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