The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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'The music just flowed'

Listen. There's a strange, sublime and stupendous stir of echoes reverberating across the universe. It's the sound of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black. Never has a background score been able to say so much to us. The 33-year-old composer, Monty, is no stranger to Bhansali's cinema.

'One day while we were having a sitting for Bajirao Mastani he spoke to me about Black. I wondered after Devdas what he intended to do in Black. But Sanjayji made it all so easy for me. He showed me a few scenes. One day, the main theme flashed across my mind, and I played it for Sanjayji. I always think of my Sai Baba and let the composition flow. Once he heard it there was no turning back. The music just flowed.'

Music runs in Monty's family. The composing maestro Pyarelal (of Laxmikant-Pyarelal fame) is Monty's uncle. 'That's right,' beams the bright young composer. 'He's my father's elder brother. According to me, he's the only complete composer. After his partner's death he went into a shell. But now he has started working again. At the age of five, I started learning music. Pyare Baba's violin used to be my wake-up call. When I started working with him I realised he was absolutely in charge of his music, a total one-man show. His music is not just food for the body, but also the soul. That's the synthesis I want to achieve. My main guru was my grandfather, Pandit Ram Prasad Sharma. He taught me the violin and every other aspect of musicianship. He taught me how to fuse Western and Indian sounds. I always wanted to compose. I want to be the creator of epic sounds. I'm lucky to have done two epics, Devdas and Black.' Monty reminisces about his introduction to Bhansali. 'Actually, during Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, his music director Ismail Darbar had other arrangers while I was his keyboard player. Then he had a problem with his arranger and asked me to step in. When I arranged Nimbuda, Sanjayji liked my work. That's how we became close. Ismail asked me to arrange the songs of Devdas. I initially declined. I wanted to work on my own. Then Sanjayji asked me to do the background score. I couldn't say 'no' to him.'

He raves about his rapport with Bhansali. 'The level of communication between us is astonishing. Though he's quite a musician himself he has never interfered with my creativity. He just tells me his vision and then leaves me to do my own interpretations.'

There are many unique aspects to the music of Black. Monty sighs. 'Everything about Devdas was so grand. We used so many voices to create grandeur. In Black, I wanted to use fewer voices and much less Indian classical music. My grandfather had taught me to first recognise the known emotions within a situation and then try to see how those emotions can be taken into a different sphere through the music. That's what I've done in Black. Sanjayji's vision helped me to get the sound right. For Rani Mukherjee's character the whole world is black. Out of that blackness emerges a triumphant light. So I've used the sounds of strings and pianos to create an uplifting aura. For Mr Bachchan's character I had to create a fighting spirit. He's a dying man with one ray of light lighting up the whole world. That one sound of the Duduk creates the right aura for his character.'

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