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Ashchorjyo Prodeep Music

He learnt sa re ga ma pa before ABCDE and enjoyed bebop jazz at Park Street restaurants before he was old enough to order a drink! Yes, you can expect the unexpected from Raja Narayan Deb. A t2 chat with the 37-year-old composer...

How would you describe the soundtrack of Anik Dutta’s Ashchorjyo Prodeep?

The songs define the characters and situations. They take the story forward. The film traces the story of this middle-class Bengali (played by Saswata Chatterjee) whose life changes drastically when he finds a magic lamp, and the music changes with the mood of the film. Before he finds the lamp, the music defines Saswata’s character as very ordinary. After he finds the lamp, the music gets flashy… lots of electronic sounds, guitars, drums come in. Previously, it was flute, clarinet, and oboe.... The sound, the visuals, the acting mark the two phases of the character — before he gets the lamp and after. The title song has an Arabic flavour. It’s about the journey of the lamp, which ultimately becomes the genie’s theme. The genie comes from the lamp. Timir and Rishi Chanda have sung the song. The Arabic percussions give way to a rock-ish, groovy number. The item number Gimme more is a mix of club and Western classical, and Tanya Sen (of Calcutta-based indie band Zoo) has sung it brilliantly. She is one of my favourite singers, who is slightly underused in Tollywood.

Saswata and Rajatava Dutta have sung the Office song

It’s like a Hollywood musical; a blend of dialogue and song. It’ll remind you of songs from Fiddler On The Roof, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady. The actors in those films would sing the songs. That’s the way it has always been in the West. We decided we would ask them to do it. If an actor sings a song, he’ll keep his character in mind. Saswata and Rajatava did it very well! The Makeover song captures the change in Saswata’s character from an ordinary to a dynamic person. It’s a very funky song with lots of electronic elements.

How did you get Amit Kumar to sing for the film?

Amit Kumar has done the playback in a Bengali film after many years. His song, Charidik bodle gechhe, is a reworked version of Prithibi bodle gechhe. It’s very apt for this film. The melody is the same but the arrangement and the lyrics are new. Anikda has written the lyrics. Elements of breakbeat, dubstep and house are there. Since this is a Kishore Kumar song, and the character was also Kishore konthi, we needed somebody with a voice close to that. I had never worked with Amitda. I just mentioned this to Ushadi (Usha Uthup, with whom Raja tours) and she called up Amit Kumar. After exchanging pleasantries, she gave me the phone! Amit Kumar has also done a rap in the song.

What was Anik’s brief to you?

We work as a team. We keep working on different projects at different times — be it ad, corporate or feature films. There’s a flow to it. So it’s more like, let’s do a jingle for Sunrise moshla today, then for Bisk Farm biscuits the next day and then the music of Ashchorjyo Prodeep the day after (laughs). There was no brief as such. Anikda is very specific about what he wants, but this time he gave me a lot of liberty.

How would you compare the two soundtracks of Bhooter Bhobishyot and Ashchorjyo Prodeep?

Bhooter Bhobishyot had a collage of sounds. The musical palette was broader.... Here, we have stuck to two kinds of sounds — the first part has chhaposha modhyobityo sounds and the second part is flashier.

Where do you place yourself in the Tolly music scene?

People got to know me through Rituparno Ghosh’s films. Rituda almost amay haat dhore industry te enechhe! So I almost got branded as someone who does music for art films. I would not like to categorise myself as a music director for these kinds of films only. And I don’t believe in the term ‘art film’. Before Dosar, I had programmed, arranged, and also assisted Debojyoti Mishra in a number of films… and Rituda thought I could deliver. I don’t think I am composing for any particular category of films. It’s all about the quality of music I can deliver.

Do you have a signature sound?

If you are doing film music, you cannot be sound specific. But if you are trying to establish yourself as an artiste, it’s important to have a signature sound. However, when it comes to films, it’s important to deliver the sound the film requires. I don’t want to be tied down by a certain style, otherwise I would not have been able to do a Noukadubi (Western classical) or a Shob Charitra Kalponik (folk music) or an Ashchorjyo Prodeep (modern). It’s important to feel the film and generate the music accordingly.

Tell us about your background?

My father, Soumendra Deb, was an accordion player, and then shifted to keyboard and piano. He has played with Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar. He was part of the Park Street jazz scene, playing with Carlton Kitto, Arthur Gracias and others. At the same time he was a sessions musician, playing for Manna Dey, Hemanta Mukherjee. As a kid, I would go with my father to Salil Chowdhury’s recording sessions. I was really lucky to get such an exposure. And then I played the keyboard in different bands, such as Krosswindz, Parash Pathar, Orient Express, the Saturday Night Blues Band, Abhilasha and Span.

Forthcoming projects?

Arindam Sil’s new film based on Sujoy Ghosh’s story, Sudeshna Roy-Abhijit Guha’s Jodi Love Dile Na Prane and Ami Aadu maker Somnath Gupta’s next film.

First film he composed for:

Rituparno Ghosh’s Dosar (then he was part of the band 21 Grams). And then six more Rituparno films (till Noukadubi) with Sanjoy Das

Fave composers and artistes:
Gustavo Santaolalla, Ilaiyaraaja, A.R. Rahman, Spyro Gyra, Sting and The Beatles

Fave musicals:
Les Miserables
Blue Man Group
Stomp
We Will Rock You