I didn’t see any footage before composing the songs- Anupam Roy
A renowned name in the Bengali film & music industry, Anupam Roy makes his debut as a Music Director in Bollywood with Shoojit Sircar’s Piku. A self-confessed workaholic, the soft-spoken Singer, Composer & Lyricist shares the experience of creating music for his first Hindi film.
How did Piku happen to you? Was composing for Hindi cinema a thought that had crossed your mind?
Around a year back, in April 2014, Shoojit da (Director) called me and said that he wanted me to compose a song for a film. At that time I didn’t know the name of the film. I really like Shoojit da’s work and so I went to meet him. That’s when he told me that the song is for Piku. I had already heard about the film, that it is this big project that he was doing with a stellar cast. I wasn’t sure whether he was joking or really wanted me to compose a song for the film (smiles). It took me sometime to accept that fact.
The first song we came up with was ‘Bezubaan’. I went to him after 10 days of our first meeting and played the song and he and the others in his team instantly liked it. He asked me to do one more song and soon I was on board composing for the entire film. I never expected to get such a big break. I was hoping that some day someone would notice my work and offer a Bollywood film to me. But never had I imagined that it would happen so soon and with such a big film and a lovely team.
You’ve written, composed and sung songs for your first Hindi film. Did you have any apprehensions? Or was it easier since it’s set against a Bengali backdrop?
I didn’t have much apprehension. Though the film talks about a Bengali family, there is a pan-India feel to it. There is nothing particularly Bengali about it. I tried to keep my music as simple as I could so that it suits the mood of the film, goes with the script and the characters.
What was the director’s brief for the music?
Shoojit da was aware of the Bengali music that I have composed over the past years. He wanted similar sounding music. He wanted me to stick to my forte, have my personal touch in the music, as that is what made me popular. So he asked me to include all of that and stick to the basics.
There are mainly background songs in the film and no lip-sync numbers. So how did you go about writing and composing the songs?
This was a very different process compared to the normal style of working. Usually we compose the songs, then the songs are shot and then we come back to give final touches to the music. But Piku was entirely different. Cinema essentially is a director’s medium. And the director knows in his head where he is going to use the songs. Shoojit da told me to take my time in composing. I didn’t see any footage before composing the songs of Piku. Later when the songs were composed, they were fit into the film as per the situations. All the songs come in the background so lip sync was not a problem.
What served as inspiration for the music of Piku?
The script inspired me. For example, for the ‘Journey Song’, I thought about visuals of people travelling by road from one Indian city to another. What would they see, if they are going through this route, what can they expect, these were things that inspired me. Romance is something that all of us experience; it’s day-to-day stuff. We all love to love and be loved. So one gets personally involved while composing romantic numbers.
The music of Piku had created quite a rage even before it’s release. Were you confident of such a response for your debut Hindi project?
I worked on this project because I really loved it. It is very close to my heart. Getting instant reactions is not something we can expect or hope for. I just wanted to compose something that when I look back after 5 years, I should be happy with the songs. That’s all I was thinking while composing. Recognition or response isn’t something that I really look for. But I am very thankful that this has happened and people are admiring the songs. So this is more than what we expected.
Composing for a Hindi film as compared to composing for Bengali cinema. Is there a difference in the method or approach?
Yes, there is a huge difference. Language was a huge obstacle for me. I’m a songwriter who writes the lyrics and the music as well. Bengali being my mother tongue, I’m very comfortable with the language and can write naturally. But my Hindi isn’t great. The process was different because in Hindi, I had to concentrate on the melody first and then try to fit in the words. In Bengali I often come up with the lyrics first and then put a tune to it. I’m not a Hindi lyricist though I’ve written some of the verses in this project. Shoojit da really liked some of them and decided to keep them.
What defines your personal style of music? Is it close to what we hear in Piku?
Actually there’s more to me than what we hear in Piku. Piku is just one part of me and I think I can perform much more.
You also have a band of your own – the Anupam Roy band. What genre of music do you’ll dabble in?
We are in 2015 and have influences from the Indian side and the western side and have been exposed to such a variety of music. I would call our music as Pop, more like Modern Pop sound. But since we all love Rock music, it’s a blend of Pop Rock, you could say. But honestly I don’t want to classify it in one genre and put it in a box, I’d like to be open so that genre doesn’t restrict us.
Are you open to lending your voice to other Hindi film composers? Any genre of films or music you’d like to be associated with?
Absolutely. If any composer feels that they need my voice, I am open to grab any opportunity. Right now I’m open to anything good that comes my way.
Could you tell us about your upcoming projects?
This year almost six of my Bengali projects will be released. One of them, Bela Sheshe has already come out and Family Album will release on May 29. By the end of the year three to four projects of mine will get released. But nothing in Hindi as of now.