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Keeping It Authentic

Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy is all the rage for all the right reasons. It is a movie that has become a trendsetter by bringing underground rap music into the mainstream. The narrative is powered by brilliant sound design, crisp dialogue and some strong performances by the supporting cast. Bhavi Gathani talks to music supervisor Ankur Tewari about his work in the film

Coming On Board

I have known Zoya Akhtar for a while. She wanted to meet a few rappers and I was working with MTV Indies at the time. I had worked with Naezy and Divine extensively. So I set up a meeting. Thanks to MTV Indies, I had been working with independent artistes for a long time. Earlier, I was informally sending her songs from the underground rap scene and asking her to listen to them. Later, she took a call that she wanted me to supervise the music of the film. I gladly accepted because it was right up my alley.

On The Brief

Most of Zoya’s films are authentic. She said that she was writing a film set in the hip hop world. She was researching that world. She wanted the music of the film to reflect the treatment and the story.

On The Challenges

There were no challenges, as such. It was just a matter of meeting the artistes, talking to them and making them understand the intent and the flavour of the film, and they gladly cooperated. The only challenge was that it took a long time. We started working on the music pretty much when they were writing the script. So it was a longer process than usual but it was fun.

On The Director

I have known Zoya over a long period of time. She is probably one of the most honest filmmakers in our country. She is very emotive, expressive and sensitive towards her craft of storytelling. She has an interesting perspective on things.

On The Process

The process was mainly about listening to a lot of music made by these rappers. A lot of the work in the film already existed in the form of scratches, voice notes, scribbles on paper and some demos. We did not give them a hard brief and asked them to work with existing material and to find a common ground with the script.

The reference point was the music that these guys were making. We would use references if we did not make music with them. Since the film was about rappers from the underground scene, we used them to make the music.

On The Response

The response is quite phenomenal. We were so busy working on it that we did not have any time to imagine what kind of response the album would get. Even now, we are getting messages on social media and on our phones about how people liked our music.

Future Projects

Next, I am supervising the music of a show on Amazon called Made In Heaven. I am also working on a script with Sooni Taraporevala for her next film. These are the two projects I am currently involved with. Besides that, I am recording an EP with my band. We are recording some music and doing some gigs.

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