The act of singing
Music coach Akshat Parikh on spending months teaching the Bandish Bandits cast classical music, so they could lip-sync songs, ace expressions
Pulling off the musical equivalent of a casting coup by roping in Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy for their recently released musical, the makers of Bandish Bandit could only be delighted that the trio delivered a crackling soundtrack, befitting their digital debut. But, a show hinging on four skilful musicians couldn't have garnered the favourable reactions that it did, had the cast not put their best foot forward as well. In certain ways, Akshat Parikh could well be considered the man with the Midas touch. In the three months leading up to the show's shoot, the music supervisor gave classical singing lessons to cast members Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni, Ritwik Bhowmik and Shreya Chaudhary. While the actors didn't go behind the mic for the show, the lessons were essential to enable them to act like veteran musicians, says Parikh. "Acting in a classical music series demands the portrayal of certain nuances, and it was my job to highlight those in Bandish Bandits. For instance, if Naseer sir's [character] would sing, I had to teach him how his hands should move in accordance to the rhythm, and taal, based on its tempo. Facial expressions in a bandish are of prime significance, and that's another aspect that I spent time working on, with the cast," says Parikh, who trained Shah for 45 days, and Bhowmik for three months over sessions lasting two to three hours a day.
The toil most certainly bore fruit, with the actors lip-syncing fast-paced classical songs with a precision and fluency that isn't attached to those not versed with music. Parikh reveals that the makers had contemplated roping in established singers to turn actors for the series, but revisited their decision later. "They appointed me to teach actors how to sing, instead. And, if one isn't trained in the art, replicating nuances such as how the hands must be placed, and move while playing the tanpura, and how a singer would praise another tabla player, need to be taught. We had to use mathematical calculations to show them why they had only [a stipulated time] to sing one raga before moving on to another element."
During a session with Atul Kulkarni
Shah took keen interest in his lessons, and would often arrive for class with questions about how a raga must be rendered, or what the mood of another note must be. "He was invested in it. As for Atul sir, he is a quick learner. That could be because he has played a singer in [the drama] Natarang."
Grandson of Pandit Krishnakant Parikh, Parikh has previously worked on a spate of television offerings, apart from collaborating with an array of social media influencers. In the pipeline is an Indian classical bandish album with electronic music influences.
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