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“Most of the time Neeraj Pandey and I were on the same page”

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is scoring victory at the box office. Apart from Sushant Singh Rajput the film also had a good team who added their own values to it. Soumita Sengupta spoke to background scorer Sanjoy Chowdhury who created magic with his talent on the silver screen. Without him the film wouldn’t be what it is. Over to him:

On the brief

Working for Neeraj Pandey is a completely different scenario. Firstly, he lets your brain do the thinking by giving you his screenplay to read. While reading the script, one actually sees the film with all its characters and nuances, one can already start making themes and styles during the reading process. He lets you watch the edit finally with him and discusses how I felt. If I have any issues I discuss it or else I go straight to do the music of the first reel, then call Neeraj to preview it. Most of the time, we are on the same page, at times he doesn’t like the tonality of certain instruments. He hates bell-ish embellishments and high frequency notes, which by now I just avoid knowing his choices but the overall themes are locked and we go ahead to the next reel and the exercise continues till the end till he is a 100 per cent satisfied.

The flavour of the film

The flavour Neeraj was looking for in the film was use of guitar melodies and string arrangements, along with horns to give it a patriotic as well as an emotional blend of struggle.

Playing with the moments of life

A child-like theme was created for the occasion when Mahi was born. He did not mind the bells. I used it here as it sounded well for an infant. The same theme was used in a guitar with string arrangements when he was in school, the same theme with rock guitars and brass was used when he was a teenager. However, when he became the captain, I made a theme with big rhythms and orchestration in the beginning of the film. At the end of the film for a continuation… followed it with an emotional strings melodic theme on his success after winning against Sri Lankan team in the World Cup. That made the ultimate change and gave goose bumps.

For the cricket scenario, I did not just want music for the sake of it. I wanted the theme to get into the audience’s heads. So it kind of lingers on and that made the match I guess more interesting to watch.

Toughest scene

The match-winning shot and the emotional outbursts of Mahi’s parents, friends, not to mention Bhajji crying was tough to conceive. I, for a fact know that when Neeraj heard it at the mix, his reaction was… ‘Aaa’… what was that… but I was confident of the piece and let out a sigh of relief because he did not ask for a change… and we were running out of time too… but am elated that it’s the best theme in the film… it does make you drop a tear. I hope Neeraj feels the same about it now though… but he is a tough cookie to crack as far as choices go. The saving grace is to work with a director who also knows his music and that makes it heaven.

On his journey

My journey from Sarfarosh till date could only have been possible because of my director, friend and elder brother John Mathew Mathan. He gave me my first break and entrusted me with such a huge film, starring  Aamir Khan. He had the faith that I could pull it off. It was scary for me. After that it was no looking back for me. Shree Narayan, the editor with Neeraj Pandey introduced me to him for his telefilms and I have worked with Neeraj ever since and am so thankful for that too.

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