Sacred Games composer Alokananda Dasgupta: Can't be bored anymore
Sacred Games composer Alokananda Dasgupta on why the show made her hungry for better opportunities
A conversation with Alokananda Dasgupta is certain to have you research a thing or two about music composition. It wouldn't matter that you don't know how many counts make a bar in music, or have never as much as got your hands on an editing software. Dasgupta's passion for the craft is so fervent that she can instantly draw you into her world. It's unsurprising then that the magic she created for the Netflix original Sacred Games is winning applause from all and sundry, including A R Rahman, who "welcomed" her to the world of composition after watching the Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap-helmed show.
We assumed that the technical brilliance that she displayed would make for discussion during this conversation, but Dasgupta - daughter of acclaimed filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta - is surprisingly consumed by emotions. The "not too much, not too little" smirk that Nawazuddin Siddiqui lends to his Ganesh Gaitonde, the simplicity with which Saif Ali Khan depicts Sartaj Singh's loneliness when he arrives home but can't find water, and Kubbra Sait - particularly Kubbra Sait - make for references repeatedly.
So moved was the composer with Sait's Kukoo, a transgender dancer who plays Siddiqui's love interest, that it led her to create the number Dhuan Dhuan, even though she wasn't asked for it. "I was moved by Kukoo's character; particularly her scene with Gaitonde, where they share a kiss. That was the only scene that gave me a glimpse into Gaitonde's weaknesses. The fact that a gangster like him was capable of this beautiful love [was inspiring]. Then, there was Kukoo's vulnerability. I just had to make that song," she says.
While melancholy - coupled with music befitting a thriller - made for a prominent part of the soundtrack, one would assume that adding elements of humour to the score would be challenging. But Kashyap's prowess at penning dialogues that make generic conversations interesting, made her job easy. "Quirk is part of the darkness. In reality, such moments exist even in sorrow. Gaitonde's world offered dialogues that could help me add humour. Penning such dialogues is Anurag's forte. He can create exciting situation with characters even when the goings-on aren't grand. Also, the swag that Nawazuddin introduced in his character, the way he walks with his small bundle of belongings; I've never seen something like this. Even the scene where he tries to kill [a character] and uses his slipper; I thought that was hilarious."
While Motwane's visuals unfolded unfamiliar occurring against the familiar backdrop of Mumbai, Dasgupta was also credited for creating a soundtrack that was reminiscent of the city. The stereotypical ways of mimicking sounds unique to Mumbai, however, wasn't particularly her approach. "In the show, there's a conversation that takes place where one person says, 'What makes it worthy to stay in this dumpster, there are palaces in the middle of filth.' To which, Gaitonde says that that, in fact, is the beauty of Mumbai. To experience Bombay, you need to step out at night. And that's what I truly believe. I hate the traffic and the crassness. But, I always enjoy the city at night. Also, in Mumbai, everything can be grand, but you can still be lonely. I had to depict that emptiness in a crowd."
Dasgupta finds it a rare occurrence in a composer's life when a rough edit is so appealing that watching it over and over for composition doesn't feel tedious. "Sacred Games was that for me. Watching it multiple times for composition didn't steal my objectivity because I could keep the romanticism alive." Yet, a cherishable project behind her has left her weary of the work coming her way. Once willing to partake in projects that did not necessarily appease her heart, she says she now finds it increasingly difficult to give her nod to work she isn't inspired by. "It's an internal battle I'm fighting. I would now call it traumatic to have compulsion associated with this work. Recently, I've been hungry for the right kind of cinema. It takes me back to the reason I became a composer."
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