I find music in every element of nature – Anurag Saikia
He is one of the youngest music directors to have bagged a National Award so early in his career. Music Director Anurag Saikia is known for his incredible work in Assam and will soon be working on Anurag Basu’s televised version of Rabindranath Tagore’s stories. Anurag gets candid about his career, being associated with One Last Question and upcoming ventures.
As a young Music Director in the industry, how would you say your experience has been so far?
It has been great!
Last year began on an illustrious note with you receiving the National Award for music direction for the Assamese film Yugadrashta. How was your experience working on a period drama like that?
To work in a periodic film, you have to research a lot. Yugadrashta was based and picturised on Majuli, the largest river island in India. I had to focus on Majuli’s folk music specially Srimanta Shankardev’s Borgeets and Assamese lokgeet, the past and the present classical music of Assam. I had to learn and incorporate these in the film and all in an all, it was a blend of folk and classical music. Moreover I have a musical lineage and Yugadrashta’s director Mr.Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta was a great help. Therefore the experience was terrific.
You recently contributed the music for the crowdfunded movie One Last Question – a bilingual project about a group of young boys joining the extremists. What was the experience like?
When I first heard the story of One Last Question from Prathamesh KriSang, the Director, it instantly got my interest as it was a story from Assam about a time in the late 90’s when lots of young boys and even girls wanted to join extremist groups after appearing for their Board exams or in some cases, before that. I have been through this atmosphere, so I could relate to the instances in the movie which compelled me to be a part of it.
READ: THE STORY OF ‘ONE LAST QUESTION’ RESONATES WITH ME AS I GREW UP THERE – ADIL HUSSAIN
As a Music Director, how essential is the story before you decide to work on a particular film? Do you read the script or watch the footage before beginning the process?
Well the ‘story’ is the soul of a movie and honestly speaking, I don’t like reading scripts with all the technical butterflies in it like, ZOOM IN/OUT, PANNING and all.. and sometimes there isn’t any footage available for that movie. In that case I prefer a narration of the story or I go for the synopsis.
Since you hail from Assam, how inspired are you by the folk music?
The entire North East India is a hub of folk music and musicians. There are innumerable tribes and there is therefore a variety of folk music. I, having been born and brought up in Assam, find music in every element of nature. Music is in the air, mountains and even in the flow of the river. Therefore you’ll find much melody and emotion in any musician’s work from the North East. I personally am very attached to ‘folk’ as my father, Dr. Anil Saikia is a research scholar in folk music and my mother, Dipali Saikia, is a folk artist. So it’s like a regular practice in my house.
How important is research for you in your process of building an authentic sound?
In most of my compositions, I do use authentic sound. So I ‘have’ to research a lot about it before producing something. Sometimes I have to travel along with my setup from anywhere to everywhere to collect some interesting music or sounds. Post that I process it, sometimes even just use it as it is. But definitely this kind of research helps me to learn more everyday.
You will also be helming music for Anurag Basu’s ‘Chokher Bali’ to be aired on Epic Channel. How did that happen?
I met Anurag Basu through Pritam Da (Music Composer) while working on the movie Barfi. And after almost two years I got a text from him saying, “Namesake (as we share the same name) call me”. So that is how it happened and now I’m working with him. I already did a project for him called “Real FM” which was aired on MTV and now I’m helming the score of ‘Stories of Tagore’ for Epic Channel.
How different is it producing music for a televised series, than a short film or a full length feature film?
Well there isn’t any difference between producing music for a TV series or any feature length movie. I do it all in the same way with the same effort. Of course there is a difference between the music of a commercial film and an art film. But then whenever I pick up any project, my first concern is to give a new dimension to the project through my music, whether it is a movie or a jingle.
What kind of projects do you most enjoy working on?
As a composer I mostly prefer working on new ideas, specially something which I haven’t worked with or tried before. Because that way I can extract every bit of me and explore my potential.
Can we expect any Hindi ventures in the future? What are your upcoming projects like?
Yes, there are a couple of projects I have been working on lately. A few more by Anurag Da apart from ‘Chokher Bali’, like Atithi, Maanbhanjan, Detectives etc. for ‘Stories of Tagore’. A film named Aisa ye Jaahan by Biswajeet Bora and a few unannounced projects, all going to be released by the end of this year. Simultaneously I’m also working on a few Assamese, Bengali and Tamil projects which are coming up shortly.
Lastly, what are the 5 tips you would give first time Music Directors who wish to have their music heard by filmmakers?
Well I have not yet gained much expertise in the field myself. The process of learning and presentation is still on. But yes, there is just “one” word for attaining success and happiness in this profession and that is “Patience” “Patience” “Patience” “Patience” and “Patience”.