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Kolkata made music of 'Little Things' possible: Neel Adhikari

The musician on his journey to scoring for the hit Netflix show, the Season 4 trailer for which has just dropped

Vedant Karia | Published 28.09.21, 03:12 PM

Neel Adhikari at Tollygunge Club, where he stayed on a brief vacation to Kolkata recently

Vedant Karia/My Kolkata

Like all good things, the tale of Dhruv and Kavya must come to an end too and Neel Adhikari, music director for the hit Netflix show Little Things, is excited for people to see how the story wraps up.

The fourth season of the show will release on October 15. The trailer dropped on Tuesday.

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“Every creative thing should come to a clear finish, and maintain its purity,” says Adhikari, smiling. “We realised S4 would be the last halfway through making it, and it is a culmination of many things. We have tried to recreate some earlier score pieces in new ways, and I have recorded four original songs for it.”

The trailer for Season 4 of Little Things

Halfway through the making of the second season, Netflix acquired Little Things, propelling it into the limelight. Adhikari says the streaming giant’s creative team only gave inputs that improved the show.

“I like all three seasons for different reasons,” he says. “S1 was like a clean glass of water that would refresh you. Drama came in from S2, and music reflected that. In S3, things got serious, and the music moved from the ukulele and guitar zone to piano and strings.”

The show, he says, “will always hold a special place in my heart for showing a softer, more inclusive side of Mumbai where my musical voice had a space”.

Adhikari, who is in his forties, now lives in Mumbai but he grew up in Kolkata. From auditioning for his school band (St. Thomas’ School, Kidderpore) by making up lyrics on the spot to rocking out with many pro bands he started (including Wise?, Span, and Neel and the Lightbulbs) to curating the open mic sessions at Someplace Else, he lived the city's rock and roll life.

It was one of those bands, Five Little Indians, that got him into composition with Q’s Gandu, and he became Q’s go to music director. Their collaboration Tasher Desh won Adhikari a Filmfare Award.

“I looked at my phone after a gig one day, and there were over 50 congratulatory messages,” Adhikari says, grinning. “Dipankar Chaki had collected the award on my behalf then, and I thought I would never be able to go up on the stage and give a speech. However, I got to do so five years later for Shaheb Bibi Golaam.”

Audrey, Adhikari’s wife, suggested the move to Mumbai to explore new opportunities. It was through the director Q that Adhikari met Ruchir Arun, who would direct seasons 2 through 4 of Little Things.

“I met with the producers and we bonded over Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha. I was surprised as this wasn’t the ‘commercial’ Bombay I had expected,” says Adhikari about how he landed the first season of the show.

In the course of Dhruv and Kavya’s journey on the show, Adhikari has also found a love for the City of Dreams.

“While Mumbai is a ruthless city, it treats those who take their work seriously like kings. People don’t care about who you are; you’re just as good as your last job and hard work is treated with respect,” he says.

He is quick to add that Kolkata, however, is the only place which will give idealistic artists the economic space to try something out of the box. He also credits his roots in the city for the music that made Little Things what it is.

“My background has given me enough space and time to learn the gentler sides of music,” Adhikari says.

“I can take a ukulele and explore the most sensitive parts of my own personality and write a song, which worked really well in Little Things. This skill is like an internal hand that can go deep inside and take stuff out, and I could only develop it because I was living on low rent in Kolkata. Ten songs that I had written earlier just naturally fit into the course of the show.”

The song I Forgive You, which featured in the second season of Little things, was written after Adhikari had a fight with another musician. “I felt bad because I love him, so I recorded this song and sent it to him, and we buried the hatchet. While working on S2, I found that it fit perfectly!”

The sweet romantic-comedy isn’t the only thing that has kept him busy. In the past few years, Adhikari has worked on Bose: Dead/Alive, Laakhon Mein Ek, Kia and Cosmos, Afsos and Hasmukh among other projects.

Beyond the accolades he is just another music lover passionate about creating sounds for celluloid, Adhikari says.

“The script comes before anything for me, and I have a clear mindset. I will do jobs for free if the project interests me, but I will not do jobs for cheap. I am trying to push boundaries as much as I can.”

Last updated on 28.09.21, 04:39 PM
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