Sacred Games' composer Rachita Arora: Gender doesn't matter in the music field

Updated: Jul 29, 2018, 09:59 IST | Anju Maskeri

Sacred Games' composer Rachita Arora on her foray into web series, and why she owes it to theatre

Sacred Games' composer Rachita Arora: Gender doesn't matter in the music field
Rachita Arora. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Last year, when filmmaker Anurag Kashyap approached Rachita Arora to compose the music for the Netflix series, Sacred Games, the only brief was to binge on Bappi Lahiri. "I listened to his disco tracks on loop to get a sense of the infectious rhythm that defined his music," she says. After that, it was about whipping up tunes that were not just groovy, but had "depth." "Anurag wanted the songs to have an intriguing, haunting quality about them," she says. By adding a good dose of dance floor beats and 80s-styled synth sounds, Arora was ready with two tracks, Disco Capital and Labon Se Chhukar, within a week. Needless to say, Kashyap liked what he heard, and so did the rest of the country.

Foray into web series
But it's not just Sacred Games that had Arora, who is in her thirties, shuffling in and out of recording studios on an everyday basis. The Delhi-born musician, who moved to the city two years ago, has also composed the theme song of Sunny Leone's biographical web series Karenjit Kaur: The Untold Story of Sunny Leone. Unlike Sacred Games, for this one Arora had to rely on heavy orchestration, brass instruments, drums and electric guitars. "We had to create the kind of music which was emotional and powerful at the same, because the story delves into delicate aspects of her life. Therefore, the music had to reflect Sunny's personality but not the way it is portrayed in mainstream media," she explains.

Arora, who started her Bollywood career with Kashyap's Mukkabaaz and later composed for Amit Masurkar's Newton, doesn't see her foray into web series as much of a transition. "Since it's about composing songs, and not the background score, the medium doesn't matter," she adds. But what she finds amusing is when she's quizzed about being one of the rare female composers in the industry. "To be honest, gender doesn't matter in this field. If you are producing good music, you'll find takers. They don't care whether you are a man or a woman," says Arora, who is trained in Hindustani classical music under Pandit Baldev Raj Varma, a proponent of the Indore gharana.

Theatre beckons again
Interestingly, Arora started her musical journey with theatre, where she would compose music for plays in Delhi. In Mumbai, a visit to Prithvi theatre led to a chance meeting theatre biggie Makarand Deshpande, and, that proved to be a turning point. "Makarand sampled my work, and he liked it. So he asked me to produce music for him," she says. Arora ended up composing the music for his 50th original play, Epic Gadbad that premiered recently. "When you are composing for a play, you have to attend rehearsals just like an actor would, because you need to understand the aesthetics of the play. I would take my musicians and perform live," she says. Interestingly, it was Deshpande who later introduced her to Anurag Kashyap, who, impressed by her work, asked her to compose the score for the entire film. When she's not producing commercial music, Arora spends her time exploring Indian folk music. "I, along with a group of my musically-inclined friends, have been trying to find musicians to could collaborate with. There's such a wealth of untapped talent," she says.

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