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Balancing Act

Dileep Subramaniam says that working on Tamasha was a delight not only because it challenged him as a sound designer, given the diverse locations, but also because Imtiaz Ali and he are avid travelers and foodies

On Tamasha

Tamasha is a typical Imtiaz Ali film so it has been shot in geographically diverse locations from Corsica, Tokyo to Gurgaon and Shimla thrown in. I keep telling him you write a script which is a travel agency’s delight. All important scenes for romance are set in crowded spaces like airports and railway stations. But that’s how life really is.

Blending on-location sounds with the dialogues

Sync sound involves shooting on locations amidst different background sounds. It’s always a balancing act to keep the dialogue comprehensible and give a sense of the ambience, typically the bar where Ranbir and Deepika meet for the first time in Corsica is a hill top windy location with traffic on one side and sea waves on the other. We had to add wind and waves to make it smooth and blend well together as different angles had varied ambience captured together.

On Imtiaz Ali

Tamasha is my fourth feature film with him. He is more a friend and a fellow traveler than just a director for me. All discussion and brainstorming is followed by food or talk about food as he is as passionate about food as I am. For us new locations have to be explored restaurant by restaurant.

On the brief

He just narrates the story and gives the unit an idea of the characters mindset and leaves you to come up with the appropriate sound. He is very particular about using location tracks as much as possible sometimes I have to point out that a scene needs ADR (automated dialogue replacement) due to high ambient noise.

On challenges

Noisy locations like Social Café in Hauz Khas, Delhi are always tough as it requires in sync sounds. There are no easy shoots or days when you have such locations. The traffic signal scenes where Ranbir is in the car were tough as the sounds change when the car window opens and closes.

Work on location vis-à-vis on set

Sets are more controlled only on paper but the noisiest locations in a film are the sets due to the noises made by air conditioners and moving lights. It’s fun to shoot on actual locations as they give a very authentic feel. Most actors perform their best in front of co actors. But while dubbing the same intensity is tough to recreate alone in a dub room. The effort is always to preserve the original sound which is on location while the actor performs.

On AR Rahman

This is my fourth film with Rahman sir, Rockstar, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Lekar Hum Deewana Dil being others. It is a pleasure to work with him as he takes elements and voices recorded on location and compose music around it. The Polyphonic singing in the film were recorded on location in Corsica. Music was added in the sequence when Ranbir and Deepika dip their heads in a stream while exploring Corsica.

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