Meet guitarist-composer Tajdar Junaid, the brain behind 'Mukti Bhawan' music

Apr 15, 2017, 08:46 IST | Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya

Meet guitarist-composer Tajdar Junaid, the brain behind the music of the critically acclaimed Mukti Bhawan

Tajdar with his charango. A few of his popular songs are Prelude to Poland, Though I Know and Yadon Ki Pari. Pic/Ramanuj Das
Tajdar with his charango. A few of his popular songs are Prelude to Poland, Though I Know and Yadon Ki Pari. Pic/Ramanuj Das

Cinema is an inspiration to countless artistes. The medium — armed with lights, sounds and a narrative — throws open contrasting emotions. Guitarist and composer Tajdar Junaid picked up fragments of his feelings through Iranian films. It is difficult to decode his Rock band origins; his shy disposition and full- sleeved check shirts on stage with a charango (a string instrument) hung over the neck tell a different story. The 36-year-old is on a high these days. His new release Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation) has been getting rave reviews. Adil Hussain, one of the actors in the film, received a special mention at the National Awards last week.

Music for the soul
His score for Mukti Bhawan required detailing. The story is about a character named Daya, who wants to spend his last few days in Benares, to attain salvation after death. He arrives at Mukti Bhawan, the charity-run hostel. People check in when they are certain about their death. "You have to live those characters. I spent time at the real Mukti Bhawan ashram to get a sense of the space. A father-son relationship, around which the film revolves, is often an unspoken one," recalls Tajdar, who bagged the project after Shubhashish Bhutiani (director), heard him jam at a friend's place. "Later, he mentioned that he was developing the script for Mukti Bhawan; he was listening to my debut album, What Colour Is Your Raindrop (that released in 2013), while writing the film's plot. I connected with the idea emotionally after he narrated the story," he adds.

Adil Hussain (left) and Lalit Behl in a still from Mukti Bhawan
Adil Hussain (left) and Lalit Behl in a still from Mukti Bhawan

Iranian sounds
Tajdar's journey started with Rock bands Span and Cognac in Kolkata in early 2000s. Soon, he developed an ear for Folk music and discovered the charango. "I heard a lot of Folk music from South America. It introduced me to the instrument. The tuning is similar to that of ukelele but it has pairs. The strings chime together. But Iranian cinema opened up my senses," shares Tajdar, who also worked with Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the Iranian auteur who made films like Salaam Cinema (1995) and Kandahar (2001). "He is an inspiration with lots of perseverance, which rubs off on others around him. I asked him about what inspires him to make movies with so much going against him. He is in political asylum in the UK and cannot visit his home in Iran (he left in 2005 shortly after the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). He replied, 'I will die if I don't make films."' Wong Kar-Wai's cinema also had an impact on Tajdar. He is currently tuning his guitar for concerts. "I will be off to Bengaluru for gigs in May. All my songs are rearranged and the stage offers scope for improvisations. It keeps me on my toes," informs Tajdar.

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