Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Deepak Dev: I had to reinvent my musical vocabulary for Santosh Sivan's multilingual film Urumi

The curly haired composer's melodious ‘Picha vacha naal…' for the Prithviraj-starrer ‘Puthiya Mugham' had ruled the charts last year and catapulted him into the top bracket. ‘Christian Brothers,' which was released last week, as well as the period saga ‘Urumi, scheduled to be released in the last week of March, should do the same for this young musician with a rich musical vocabulary that fords the bridge between young and old buffs of Malayalam film songs. Speaking on the phone from Chennai where he has shifted to from Kochi, Deepak talks about the challenges of composing songs for a multi-lingual film like ‘Urumi.' Incidentally, it is his second movie in Tamil after ‘Sadhoo Miranda.' Excerpts …

No electronic music

Composing nine songs for ‘Urumi' was a challenge as all the songs are completely different from each other. As the film is set between 1502 and 1524, Santosh Sir [Santosh Sivan, director of the epic film] had proscribed all electronic music. This meant that I could not even use the piano to play the music for the film. I have never done this kind of music till date; I had to explore and reinvent my music base.

Sound sense

‘Urumi' is a multilingual film in Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi and English and Santosh Sir was keen that we have music that incorporates the soul of the soil but would have a pan-Indian appeal, and sounds good and sensible in other languages too. So we played the music with the lyrics in Tamil and Hindi too to check out the effect and to ensure that it would not be too regionalised. What we have now is a kind of music that is earthy and organic.

The songs

The lyrics, written (in Malayalam) by Rafeeq Ahmed, Kaithapram, Prashanth Narayan and Chandru, encompasses many genres – folk, lullaby, ballad… So each song needed a different voice and feel. At the same time, it had to flow with the narrative of the film. Moreover, each song begins with a word that has been repeated for effect.

The singers

Ranging from maestro K.J. Yesudas to K.M. Ranji, who has never sung in a studio prior to this recording, the songs have been sung by an interesting array of voices. ‘Aaara nee, aara…' has been sung by Yesudas Sir and Swetha, the first time the two are singing together. Then there is ‘Chimy Chimy' sung by Manjari. It is my tribute to M.G. Radhakrishnan Sir, a composer I admired a great deal. The edakka plays an important role in this song.

Newcomers ...

During the days of the first edition of ‘Super Star,' a music-based talent hunt on Amrita TV, in which I was one of the judges, I had promised Job Kurien, one of the finalists in the show, that I would give him a song of mine. He has rendered ‘Aarane Aarane,' a kind of folk song. I have felt Job's voice and rendering would be best utilised in a song like that. Reshmi Sathish is a new voice I am introducing in this film. She has sung two numbers (‘Chalanam Chalanam' and ‘Appa'). There is a rustic, raw edge to her voice and she has done a good job with ‘Chalanam,' which has been picturised on Vidya Balan. Reshmi's voice scales several pitches to suit the scene as she whispers, chants and yells. On the other hand, ‘Appa' is a lullaby that she sings to the accompaniment of the santoor.

‘Thelu Thelu' is a patriotic number that sings of the yearning of the land and her people. Ranji's rustic voice and accent has done a great job. The funny thing is that I still have not met the singer. I sent the track to Thrissur, where the singer hails from, but then we discovered that Ranji has never sung in a studio. The process of having to do so was affecting his natural, full-throated rendering. So we recorded his voice and later, I arranged the music around that. It is a marvellous, soulful song.

And music directors and actors too

‘Vaddakku Vadakku' is an ode to friendship that has been picturised on Prithviraj and Prabhu Deva. I got two of my friends, Shaan Rahman and Guru Kiran, both music directors in their own right, to sing this number. Prabhu speaks with a Tamil accent and so Guru Kiran, a successful composer and singer in Kannada was just right for that. The feisty folk number was reworked into a hard rock song that has been sung by Prithviraj too.

Thanks to Prithviraj

I must put on record that it was Prithviraj who got me on board ‘Urumi.' We had worked on ‘Puthiya Mugham' and he had also sung for me. So he knew how I worked and trusted me to come up with something special for ‘Urumi.' Santosh Sir and Prithviraj were in Kochi and they were trying to get in touch with me to discuss the film. Shaji Nateshan, one of the producers of the film, walked into the restaurant and there I was… all set to celebrate my grandmother's birthday. As soon as he told me that Santosh Sivan wanted me to meet me for a film. I could not wait to rush out and meet him as I had always dreamt of composing a song for a film directed or shot by Santosh Sir or his assistants. Now here was a chance to work with the master himself. I was on song!

SOURCE : http://www.hindu.com/fr/2011/03/25/stories/2011032550780400.htm

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