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Shashwat Sachdev: They liked the work I had done in Indian cinema

Updated on: 04 March,2024 05:03 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sonia Lulla |

Bagging one of his biggest projects as he joins hands with Hans Zimmer, Shashwat on crafting the music for a thriller series based on an Indian family

Shashwat Sachdev: They liked the work I had done in Indian cinema

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Shashwat Sachdev joins hands with German film score composer Hans Zimmer for the BBC thriller series, Virdee. Based on a Sikh detective, Harry Virdee, it follows his tryst to hunt down a killer targeting the Asian community in Bradford, even as he faces backlash for marrying a Muslim woman.

In this interview, Sachdev discusses the challenges of crafting an Indian score with an international appeal.

Edited excerpts of the interview.

Can you talk about how you came aboard this project?
I have been working with them for four years. I connected with Hans’s team that creates sync music and did two albums with his label. This show is of Indian origin. Hans and Russell [Emanuel, from Zimmer’s music label] both wanted me to collaborate with them on it because they liked the work I’ve done on Indian films. 
Because this is an international thriller series, I knew it would have a western palette. But having grown up in India, our music is an important part of my upbringing. That is what Hans and Russell loved about my work. Even though the backdrop is western, the elements are all Indian. The show is based on an Indian community living in the UK, so this reflection was important. 

Hans ZimmerHans Zimmer

Even though the Indian community living overseas consumes Indian music, their sensibilities are still different from those of the masses here. Did you study those small nuances to incorporate them into your work?
The consumption of music is getting pretty universal. There may be a small difference in the instrumentation and the language. But, if you see the top 100 songs in the UK, America and India, you’ll realise that they are not distinctly different. Every audience enjoys music that moves them based on their environment. But, subjects like love, heartbreak, and [joy] are emotions that are common among cultures. A dance and party song in America will sound similar to one in India. The language will be different, of course. 

Often composers turn to existing Indian music when representing Indian families based in foreign countries. Did you also pick popular Indian songs to establish that connection?
I may not consider Bollywood songs but I may use Punjabi folk songs for that purpose. Although work on it is underway, I have recorded with folk artistes from Punjab and Rajasthan for the purpose. I will begin working on the score later this month. 

I want to develop a palette that’s international and edgy. It needs to be universally applicable. So, while it should perfectly fit the show, I also want the score to have utility when people listen to it otherwise. I wanted to also take this opportunity to thank Russell for giving an Indian boy an opportunity to represent my country at this level. 

How is the process of working with an international team different from doing so with an Indian team?
It’s similar when it comes to approaching the music. What’s different is that people there are more [disciplined]. When it comes to locking a schedule, there is more clarity. Here, things are more flexible and fluid. You have to be available at all times to your directors and producers.

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