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Trivedi’s Song Fest

Music director Amit Trivedi talks to Padma Iyer about composing music for Manmarziyaan, working with Anurag Kashyap and making music for South Indian films. 

Amit Trivedi has been making music for films for a decade now. He has given some memorable tracks and his latest haul of songs from Manmarziyaan is the talk of the town. Talking about the film and its music, Trivedi says, “Anurag (Kashyap) sir narrated the film to Shellee (the lyricist) and me. When the narration reached the interval point, I discovered that there were already seven songs. We were a little zapped. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Now we have 14 songs in the film. It was planned in the script in the way Anurag sir had written it. He wanted to make the story like a musical love story.”

Trivedi’s association with Kashyap is not recent. This is their fourth film together. Asked what it was like to work with the director, he remarks, “With Anurag sir, it has been always been the case since Dev D, then Bombay Velvet and now Manmarziyaan, he just does not interfere. He gives the brief, he gives the narration and then he disappears. He doesn’t disturb you or bother you at all. He leaves you to your process. He has complete faith and belief in the artiste. It helps me fly. I feel boundless and fearless when I am working with him. This creative freedom shows in the work.”

Elaborating on the actual process of making the songs, Trivedi says it was a collaborative effort between him and Shellee. So, were the lyrics written first, or did he come up with the tunes first? “We worked both ways,” says Trivedi. “For some songs, I had created the tune first and he wrote on top of it. For others, it was the other way around. For example, for Hallaa hallaa, he had some words written Ishqey lafz da ei tutt ke gireyaa. And the tune came later. I am comfortable working both ways.”

Trivedi has worked with several singers and the album of Manmarziyaan boasts some amazing voices. Asked about how he went about choosing the singers, he reveals, “All 14 songs in the movie are sung by some of the finest talents. Whenever I am composing a song, I have a particular sound in my head. I tell my team that I am looking for a voice like this, can you help me out? They give me 10 to 12 options and I choose from them. This is primarily a Punjabi album, so I got some of the best voices from the Punjab fraternity.”

Another distinct character of Trivedi’s music is the influence of Indian folk on his tunes. What makes him go back to the sounds of the land? He says his inspiration is always the filmmaker and where the story of the film is set. “Is it Gujarat or Punjab or Rajasthan or Bengal? If the story talks about a certain region, then I like to delve into and explore the music specific to that region. India is such a rich and vast country, not just in music but food, clothes, language and overall culture. There is so much music in every state and I want to explore that. I research it, learn it and put it into my music.”

To promote the songs of the film, the makers came up with #WakeUpWithManmarziyaan as they introduced Trivedi’s musical compositions, one each day, for ten days. It has been some time since we have seen so many songs in a single film. Asked about this idea, Trivedi says, “It was a great and completely new idea. The entire credit goes to Eros Now and Aanand L Rai. They are the brains behind this, especially Aanand L Rai, who is the producer. Initially, they said they were going to release the entire album in one go and I was okay with that. After a few days, I got to know that Colour Yellow was coming out with this new strategy and they were going to let people take it easy and release one song at a time. I was, like, this is cool too.”

The response to the songs has been positive and Trivedi is overwhelmed. “It has been quite some time since I have got this kind of response. Everywhere we go, my lyricist and I, the love and affection that the people are giving us, and also on social media, it has been extremely positive.” And riding on the wave of success, the Manmarziyaan team did musical tours in Mumbai and Nagpur.

While Trivedi is enjoying all the attention that Manmarziyaan is getting, he has immersed himself in South Indian movies and is creating music for them. He is working on the music for the Tamil, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada remakes of the Kangana Ranaut-starrer Queen. “The original Queen had eight songs and these films also have eight songs each. But I am composing afresh all the songs for the four films. The original movie had the song London thumakda, a completely Punjabi vibe and I cannot do that here. It is a completely different production, melody for these films.”

Another big South film in his kitty is the Telugu film Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy starring Megastar Chiranjeevi. Working on this film has been a one-of-a-kind experience for the composer. “I didn’t realise the impact the film would have until the teaser was released. I had no idea what I was getting into. How big a megastar he is and what his fans expect. Once the news was out that I was doing the film, I started getting messages and even dhamkis that he was their ‘god’ and that I better do a good job. I didn’t know how to react to that. My wife and I were reading the tweets and we were really scared. But when the teaser came out, I was bombarded with love from the very same people.”

Trivedi has had quite an eventful year so far and he will continue to treat us to his music with a few more films that are releasing later this year. There is the Ayushmann Khurana-starrer Andhadhun directed by Sriram Raghavan, the French-English film An Extraordinary Journey of a Fakir starring Dhanush, the Kajol starrer Helicopter Eela and Sara Ali Khan’s debut film, Kedaranth.

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