‘Fanny re’ from the recently released Finding Fanny has touched all the right chords with the listeners. Pandolin speaks to the ingenious man behind the music of this lovely song, renowned French composer Mathias Duplessy, who has also composed the music for ‘Ding Dong’ and crooned it himself. Read on to know how he transcends cultures and language barriers to create music from deep within.

You have previously composed for a few Indian films and are now back with Finding Fanny. What is it about Indian films that draws you? Do you keep getting offers to do films here?

The energy of India, the variety of Indian cultures, people and the different kinds of music, stories and movies made here, I’m attracted to it all. There is so much to do here that it is artistically exciting. I love to work and travel in India. I choose projects with my heart and though I may work on only a few of them, I do it with complete dedication from deep within. I’ve seen so many music directors simultaneously working on several films but that is not my choice of life.

You compose music for films, theatre plays and various other mediums. How different is the process of composition for each medium?

Music is music, whatever the medium. I try to be true to everything that I’m doing, I’ll never record something if I don’t feel deeply about it.

How would you define your style of music?

That is a tough one to answer. I think my style is like travelling music, acoustic, lively, where you can hear the human emotions behind the notes. I compose classical music (for someone like Jeremy Jouve, one of the best classical guitar players in France), or symphonic music (like L’Oranais, the latest movie of Lyes Salem). I grew up with Paco de Lucia, Ennio Morricone, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Maurice Ravel, Miles Davis and others, so my music’s geographic reference and inspiration is very large but universal.

How did your collaboration with Finding Fanny happen and why did you agree to compose the music for this film? Did you compose the music in India or Paris itself?

I was introduced to Homi Adajania by my manager around four years ago in Mumbai. Homi himself narrated the script of the film to me and also played all the characters like an actor. It was his passion, energy and this crazy story of Finding Fanny that convinced me. I came back to Paris and immediately recorded a theme, with all my instruments (that is almost 40 instruments from all over the world) and Homi loved it.

‘Fanny re’ has a very old world charm to it. What was Homi’s brief for this song and how did you go about composing it? Was the music created first and lyrics then put to it or was it a joint collaboration?

Mukthiyar Ali, the singer who is also a dear friend, was in Paris because we were touring together for our Album “Jeena Jeena”. I decided to compose a song that could be used in this movie. To me the flavor of the song was like a mix of Italian and Portuguese music from the 60’s and 70’s, but most importantly with my natural touch. Mukhtiyar wrote the lyrics and sang the song.

You have composed and sung ‘Ding Dong’ as well. Tell us about the music of the song. Did you choose to sing the song or did Homi ask you to lend your voice?

I found this melody in a taxi to the airport and sang it with my friend, the great author Alan Mecer because he coached me for my pronunciation. I thought that Homi would want to find a real English singer to sing this number but instead he said “I love your voice and your accent!” and so we kept the song just the way it was.

Where do you seek inspiration for your music on the whole? Any particular instruments that are your best friends while composing?

I try to learn every day. Books, philosophy, spirituality and life as a whole inspire me. When I get time, I analyze classical scores from famous composers like Ravel and Debussy. My main instrument is the acoustic guitar, and Morin Khuur, the cello from Mongolia. I love to sing too, with the Mongolian technic – throat singing, that I have used in several previous videos.

Does language pose a barrier for you while composing music in India? Did you face any other difficulty while composing the music of Finding Fanny?

My English is not very good but it’s ok. I continue to learn with the help of a teacher. My collaboration with Homi for Finding Fanny was very fluid and natural. Homi and me are on the same page.

How would you describe the music scene in India? Would you be open to composing more music here?

I am crazy about classical and folk music in India, it’s very deep and complex. And I believe that music and spirituality are linked. Yes I’d love to make more music here.

Please tell us a little about your upcoming projects.

I am going to compose the music for two films by Sai Kabir, two wonderful love stories with a human and spiritual connection. We are also looking at a tour in India in February with Muktiyar Ali and accordion player Bastien Charlery. We’ll play ‘Fanny re’ on stage, for sure!