Made in Calcutta

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By A DBPC boy has scored the Jism 2 soundtrack. Meet Arko Pravo Mukherjee Priyanka Roy Did you know about Arko before reading this? Tell
  • Published 14.07.12

Calcutta boy Arko Pravo Mukherjee is behind the soulful strains of the Jism 2 soundtrack, an erotic thriller directed by Pooja Bhatt that marks the Bolly debut of porn star Sunny Leone. t2 caught up with the 1983-born Keshtopur boy who studied at Don Bosco Park Circus and hangs out at Someplace Else.

Everyone’s been raving about the Jism 2 soundtrack…

I am floored and humbled. The songs only on YouTube have crossed six million views already. People are going berserk over the soundtrack. I am getting a lot of encouragement from the film fraternity and a lot of love from people across the country, but the maximum from Calcutta because that’s my hometown. I am still trying to gulp it all down. It’s been too much in too little time.

How did a Calcutta boy land such a big film?

I met Mr Mahesh Bhatt through my long-time friend Prashant Narayanan, who last worked with the Bhatts in Murder 2. Bhatt saab loved my music and put me on to Pooja (Bhatt). She has directed the film, but is also co-producing it with Dino Morea. I met both of them and they loved the songs. I met Bhatt saab in November last year when the film was in the scripting stage and he told me what Jism 2 was all about so that I could lyrically improvise and bring it closer to the subject. After the script was written, I met all of them again and we started work on the music in January.

Tell us about yourself...

I have always lived in Calcutta. My home is in Keshtopur on VIP Road. My dad is a doctor and my mom is a professor. I am the first person from my family to take up the arts for a living. In fact, I studied medicine (Burdwan Medical College) but I am so passionate about music that I didn’t want it to just remain a hobby. But I was always academically inclined and if I studied medicine, it was because I really wanted to.

How did you get interested in music?

I have never been formally trained in classical music but I learnt Rabindrasangeet for seven years when I was in school. In college, music became a lot more serious because I started jamming with a few bands, none of which really worked out, because medicine takes a lot out of you. When I came to Mumbai in 2008, I was working with a friend but it didn’t really work out and I went solo in 2010.

Having grown up in the rock scene in Calcutta, how Bollywood is your music sensibility?

I don’t think there is anything like a formula in Bollywood anymore, be it films or music. The time has come for all kinds of ideas to be expressed in Bollywood. The producers and directors that we have today are all highly educated and highly informed. They are exposed to global trends.... As for me, I am striving to find what works for me, but honestly, film music is not about me expressing my feelings, like it would be in a personal album. It’s about the plot, the characters….

Jism 2 is an erotic thriller. How much does your music mirror that?

It is a film that essentially deals with desire. So there has to be an element of mystery and mystique… of haunting. There has to be a lingering feel to the soundtrack. Also, lyrically, the romantic track has love treated in a very soft manner, but the two tracks sung by Ali Azmat (Yeh jism and Maula) blatantly talk about desire. I have tried to keep the album clutter-free because I like to stick to minimal sounds. Even where I have stuck to a norm, I have tried and kept it a little different. Like the Sufi number (Maula) is actually my interpretation of the genre. Of all the four tracks, I like this track the most because the lyrics are very close to my heart.

There is talk of the title track sounding like a Turkish song...

The beginning of the title track sounds a lot like the opening strains of a few Middle-Eastern songs and I am aware of that. That’s completely a coincidence and I don’t really care about it because the song is totally different and totally mine.

The Jism soundtrack is on people’s playlists even today. How much pressure does that put you under?

To fill the shoes of a genius like M.M. Kreem is daunting. His work was superlative in Jism and one of my favourite film songs of all time is Awarapan banjarapan. It was a little unnerving for me at first but if people like Mahesh and Pooja Bhatt feel that my songs can take the franchise forward, it’s a huge confidence booster for me. I had to enhance Pooja’s vision through my music.

What next?

I am still waiting to see how Jism 2 unfolds. But I am working on two other films. One is Mastaan for which I will also be writing the lyrics and another film called Tamanchey.

I also have a little surprise for Calcutta in the form of a Bengali album. I am on the verge of forming a band of my own. I have also written a script that is going on the floors soon. It’s actually at such a stage that I can’t really talk about it now, but I am not directing it. I have a lot of music work to do.

Is Tollywood on the radar?

Of course, Bangla films are always on the radar. Some great work is happening there…. I loved the 22shey Srabon soundtrack by Anupam Roy a lot. But I am just waiting for something substantial to come along. With Bollywood, I have the national audience and a great script and great people is what will get me to Tollywood.

At a glance

School: Don Bosco Park Circus (class of 2001)
College: Burdwan Medical College
Lives in: Keshtopur
Fave hangout in Calcutta: Salt Lake (that’s where most of my friends live) and Someplace Else.
Music idols: Johnny Cash, U2, John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Guns N’ Roses. I am from Calcutta... I have to love rock music!
Bolly beats: I love A.R. Rahman, Vishal Bhardwaj and Amit Trivedi.