Five feet something man is sitting quietly in the lobby area where Rani Mukherjee and Vidya Balan were to attend their video interviews. As I finish my meeting with Vidya, I head to the first floor lobby for some unfinished business when my eyes catch an attention of a man facing his back, sitting quietly on the couch kept near the glass door of the grand balcony. I lean forward and see a man in spectacles fiddling with a music CD. The film’s PR was seated opposite him. We exchange eye contact and she is seen whispering in the man’s ear. He turns and smiles. My first meeting with India’s finest after A.R Rahman, Amit Trivedi. AR and AT have a lot in common. They speak less, listen more and entertain us the most with their unusual but lovable soundtracks. Amit Trivedi is a revolutionary when it comes to scoring music for Hindi films, surprising when you come to know that he is only six films old. It’s a pun when I say that Trivedi doesn’t play instruments, he plays ideas but that’s what reflects in his songs and background scores. Aamir, Dev D, Wake Up Sid, Aisha and his recent, No One Killed Jessica is a prime example of his striking balance in the songs, a sense of fragility blended with ominous, nearly sinister overtones. But it’s not just the songs that he is bothered about. As an ardent fan of background scores, I firmly buy the conviction of Amit Trivedi when he quotes, “These days scores were more likely to be written by keyboard players with computer skills learned at film schools rather than composers trained at music college”. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent meets India’s finest, most innovative and probably, in the near future, the only man who might be Oscar worthy – Amit Trivedi.
“I don’t know what is there in my music that attracts people to go and watch a film”
It’s really exciting and overwhelming to hear that the audiences only want to go and watch the film because they liked the trailer and the song ‘Dilli Dilli‘. This has happened before too when Dev D was about to release. The feeling is great. But I can’t answer the question about what is there in my music that attracts people to go and watch the film. I am just happy to know that, and that’s it.
“I strongly believe in live orchestration and that’s how you make music”
There is a track from No One Killed Jessica called ‘Dua‘ and ‘Dilli Dilli‘ which are orchestrated live. Majority of my tracks are composed live. I prefer doing that because that’s how music needs to be made.
“I really thank my stars to where I am now in our film industry”
The song ‘Iktaara‘ from Wake Up Sid wasn’t planned at all. It just fell in the right place at the right time. I approached Ayan Mukerjee for the background score for Wake Up Sid because he had liked my work in the film Aamir. He is a very sensible director. Somehow while doing the score he came up to me saying that he was going to start the shoot and he needed some kind of a musical piece. The rest is history.
“Black Hawk Down remains my all time favourite Hans Zimmer work”
There are lots of music directors who try and get motivated by different soundtracks they hear. Everyone does. But it’s bad to copy that tune and make your own song. I don’t do that. But yes, while composing the background score for a particular film, I do hear the OST of a Hollywood film to get motivated to score for my film but never take their pieces and try and fit it in my film. I am a huge fan of Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. Black Hawk Down remains my all time favourite Hans Zimmer work and it surely fits in the top ten of the best of Hans Zimmer. I just follow my instincts.
“Dilli Dilli was Raj Kumar Gupta’s idea. He wanted to use heavy metal”
It’s sad that very few people in our country know what the difference between a score and soundtrack is. Raj Kumar Gupta wanted to kick start No One Killed Jessica with a bang and ‘Dilli Dilli‘ was his idea. He wanted to incorporate heavy metal and told me, “Yaar, ek Delhi pe gaana kar ke de mujhe”. I did it in my own way and used heavy metal and the rest is in front of you.
“Sounds start to play in my mind as I finish reading the script for any film”
For me, the moment I finish reading any script, sounds start to play in my mind. There is a track called ‘Haara‘ from the film Aamir which is the theme of the film. That came immediately in my mind because I interpret things in my own way. I have my own visualisation. I did the same thing is No One Killed Jessica too. There is a lot of angst, depression and frustration in the film. There are moments in the film how people play with each other’s trust and how they betray each other and how media and a common man deals with them. What is Sabrina going through? All these things play in my mind and that’s how I come up with scoring tracks or background scores.
“My favourite instrument which I want to use in our films is Algoze”
There is a traditional folk instrument which the Punjabis use, called Algoze. I want to use that and incorporate it somewhere in our films. I want to use Algoze in Bollywood films by tweaking it to its extreme. Of course, it has been used in Punjabi music but it’s not been used in our films. Not many people have heard of this instrument here. What we need to do is take it out from the Punjabi feel and use it in the most maddening way possible out here. It’s not about what instrument you use, it’s always about how you use it.
“I’ve been known all this while only because of Dev D“
I am doing a film directed by Vikas Bahl called Chillar Party and Karan Johar and Shakun Batra’s Stand By Me. I hope to come out of the zone which people have trapped me into and that is Dev D. I’ve been known all this while only because of that film. Thanks to Karan Johar, Shakun Batra and the many more, I am trying to experiment with my music and hope that people appreciate something different coming out of Indian music.