Born in Chicago, Sagar Desai somehow realised he had a connection with music. Starting with background scoring and now moving on as a music composer, Desai feels he is still waiting for that one project that would be a turning point in his career.
I grew up in the burbs of Chicago, jamming with my two older cousins, Asit, who plays the keyboard, tabla and flute, and Anish, a guitar player and singer. So I guess music runs in the family. But I was never trained; I started teaching myself the piano when I was 14. I never really cared about becoming a musician and was more interested in art and architecture through college. Then one day, I quit my job and came to India.
First Independent Project
Mixed Doubles with Rajat Kapoor in 2006. I landed the job when I was working for Pritam. I told him how I would love to do scores for certain kinds of films. A few months later, he recommended me to Rajat. After that film, I realised i had a knack at this.
Frankly, I am still waiting for that turning point. So far, it’s been a slow and steady race. After I got The Japanese Wife by Aparna Sen, I knew I had to keep going with this. I’ve worked on 15 films or so.
As my brother Sandeep Chowta says, background scoring is a thankless job. And I have to admit, at times, I walk out of a cinema after watching one of my films and think, ‘God, that was such a huge waste of time!’ I haven’t done a feature since Bheja Fry 2. Putting music to a moving image has a certain magic and I am addicted to it.
Even though I have been in the industry for a long time, I am still struggling. I pitch to a director, I wait and I get disillusioned and lazy, one time i just gave up, and actually wrote a sci-fi film that’d i’d love to score, and started pitching it to producers.
Independent Music Scenario
‘Independent music’ in Bollywood is an oxymoron. You have your terms confused. Independent music is definitely making a comeback in India and that is great. There’s a lot of good work being done and the production values are high. But there is too much emphasis on blasting the listener with a battery of sounds. Back in the day, work ethics were much stronger than it is today.
I’m really glad to be moving away from doing only fringe scoring work to more mainstream gaana baana. I am also looking forward to completing my classical fusion album and practising the piano. My future projects include Monsoon Shootout produced by Anurag Kashyap and Asif Kapadia; then National Roaming directed by Pryas Gupta and produced by Seven Island Films; J For Jasoos, a tentative project by Viacom 18; and Ankhon Dekhi, which is my fourth film with Rajat Kapoor.