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Settling The Score

Music composer Shashwat Sachdev’s work in URI: The Surgical Strike was selected for the National Award for Best Background Music. In conversation with Joanne D’silva, he talks about the making of the URI score and what the award means to him

Music composer Shashwat Sachdev made his debut with Phillauri and now he is a National Award winner for his background score in URI: The Surgical Strike. Looking back at his journey in Bollywood, the music composer has just one word to say - fortunate. Remembering those times, he says,So the first person who I met in Bombay was Rhea Kapoor. And then she gave me a lot of confidence, courage and she gave me work. But her film got delayed for a couple of years and later Phillauri came my way.”

Winning any award is an honour. But getting the National Award definitely exceeds all other film awards in India. When asked how he feels about getting the recognition at such a young age, Sachdev says, “Basically, when I or anybody is working on a film, they don’t do it because of looking forward to an award. The idea is to create something nice, to create something where the whole team has so much faith and trust in each other and be proud of what is accomplished. When Aditya (Dhar, director) met me, he was looking forward to creating something really amazing. Even I was looking forward to working with somebody like him.”

Making music for a war film must have been a challenge, given that his previous work had nothing to do with this genre. But coincidentally before meeting Dhar, Sachdev was working on the music of other war-based films. “I was just prepping and researching about the music, which I showed to Aditya. At that time he had not told me that he was working on URI: The Surgical Strike. Later, he told me that he is working on a war film and told me that the music I made him listen to is perfect for the film. He comes with such clarity and cleanliness in his vision and is so sure of what he wants. That made my work very easy,” he says.

Elaborating on the process of making music for the film, the composer says, “When I’m working on a film, the part that is actually difficult is not the process of making the music because that is technique, but to reach that one common ground with the whole team and decide what is going to be sound of the film, that is the difficult part.”

But all the hard work bore fruit. When asked about his reaction when he first heard the news, he says, “The first person who told me was my producer Sonia (Kanwar). She sent me a message and then Aditya called me immediately. I was thrilled and really thankful. I feel really humbled that I am the person who gets the awards but I do feel that it is my family, team, people who have worked for the film, people who contributed to the film and worked for the score and made it so good also deserve it. There were 150 musicians who played the music, so it is very unfair that only I accept the award. I am who I am because of the whole team.” 

Despite the win, Sachdev feels that he cannot call himself a successful music composer. But he plans to use this award as an opportunity to improve the quality of his work. “The only thing I can do is be disciplined in working on my music and remember that the National Award came because of the teamwork and everybody coming together. It is just the right amount of hard work and attitude and I will continue doing that,” he says.

When asked what is next for him, he says,I’m working on a few projects. And I’m at an early stage of developing and researching for a project. I do music so that the audience can enjoy it and apply it in their lives and feel the emotions I feel when I’m making it. I consistently try to do that and enjoy my work and bring in a little bit of happiness.”

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