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Home > Sunday Mid Day News > Shantanu Moitras Songs of the River reflects the Bollywood composers love for travelling

Shantanu Moitra's 'Songs of the River' reflects the Bollywood composer's love for travelling

Updated on: 09 October,2022 08:10 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Nidhi Lodaya | nidhi.lodaya@mid-day.com

Here’s how Bollywood composer Shantanu Moitra embarked on a cycling journey along the banks of the Ganga, composing music along the way, and discovering a new India for a six-episode documentary

Shantanu Moitra's 'Songs of the River' reflects the Bollywood composer's love for travelling

The idea to collaborate with musicians to record songs in nature and get them to the location he was travelling to, was to move away from the studio setup

Shantanu Moitra says that his love for trekking, and travelling in hilly terrains,  stems from the fact that he is a “Bengali raised in Delhi. Trekking was a big part of my life, just like music.” He has now taken that love seriously, and is talking to us about Songs of the River, a six-episode expedition of cycling along the banks of the Ganga.


The composer behind hits like PK (2014) and 3 idiots (2009) wasn’t always a musician. In fact, it was a need of the hour to fund his travels that forced Moitra to take up music as a profession. His first job was at a bank and that is where he realised that, “the romanticism of me travelling around the country will not be possible if I get into a corporate job.”  After quitting his job at the age of 35, he started composing jingles to sustain himself financially and to travel. It worked! In fact, after he did PK, he declined all offers and spent the next 100 days travelling across the Himalayas. “Music was not the ideology here,” he shares with mid-day over a telephonic interview. “[You could say that] I was running away from music and wanted to rediscover my love for travel. But in the process, on the 20th or 25th day, I started humming something which wasn’t for a movie. This composition was steeped in folk and classical music,” he says. This adventure later turned into his project 100 Days in the Himalayas, where he engaged with musicians beyond Bollywood and discovered another world of music.



The idea to collaborate with musicians to record songs in nature and get them to the location he was travelling to, was to move away from the studio setup


Songs of the River came as Moitra “got the mad idea of cycling down the river, which gradually became an obsession.” He began working on this in 2018. He recalled how his father was involved in the entire process, and losing him to COVID was what pushed him to finally embark on the journey.

His 70-day trip started from Gomukh, all the way to Gangasagar, where he covered 3,000 kilometres on his cycle. “I experienced small-town India and saw what community living, sharing and living together meant. It became clear that no pandemic can bend the spirit of this India.” As part of a social media campaign, he started the Ananth Yatra where he received thousands of pictures from people who had lost their loved ones to COVID and hadn’t been able to get a last glimpse.

Bollywood composer Shantanu Moitra started working for Songs of the River in 2018, with intense training so that he would be able to cover 3,000 km on a cycle along the banks of the GangaBollywood composer Shantanu Moitra started working for Songs of the River in 2018, with intense training so that he would be able to cover 3,000 km on a cycle along the banks of the Ganga

“The idea behind this journey was to discover the Ganga, and myself, and keep the promise I made to my father; he wanted me to travel and find inspiration for music. My inspiration of course came from Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries.” His biggest learning from this journey? “I transcended from me to us,” he says.

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