Composer Roy: It's time to find my own space
The music producer and emerging composer on creating the Whistle Theme for Bachchhan Paandey and working on Bloody Brothers
For years, Mumbai-based Roy has produced and arranged music for prominent Bollywood composers. So it was only natural that he decided to strike out as a composer himself.
Having fiddled on chart-topping tracks like Jabra Fan, Zalima, London Thumak Da and Hawayein, Roy first debuted as a composer (background score) for the 2016 film Banjo. More recently, he created the instrumental piece, Whistle Theme, for the Akshay Kumar-starrer Bachchhan Paandey, and composed the score and soundtrack for the series Bloody Brothers. His other works include the title track for Call My Agent — collab with rapper Kaam Bhaari — and the singles Khudkhushi and Cappuccino.
Roy reveals that, when he was approached for Whistle Theme by music supervisor Azeem Dayani, he had no clue it will be featured in Bachchhan Paandey. "I knew Roshni (Saha) from Kolkata but did not know she whistled," Roy shares. "We created something that's fresh and original but with a commercial aspect. I was surprised when it was used in such a major way in the film."
His work on Bloody Brothers was more elaborate. The show, starring Jaideep Ahlawat and Zeeshan Ayyub, is adapted from the BBC thriller series Guilt. Roy sat with director Shaad Ali to create the main and character themes. He used a mix of violin, swarlin ("I made it sound like an esraj"), zitar, guitars and vocals. The songs, it turns out, were added on later. "For the love song in the first episode (filmed on Zeeshan and Tina Desai), I had randomly made a tune and played some chords on it. Shaad wanted changes but he liked the whole idea. We knew we could use a song here and convey something about the characters in that brief span of time."
Roy hails from Asansol in West Bengal. His father is a tabla performer and teacher; his mother was a singer. He trained in Indian classical music but moved on to the synthesiser and keyboard in his teens. After years of working in the Bengali film industry, creating jingles and doing live shows, he shifted base to Mumbai in 2008. Since then, he's collaborated with everyone from Amit Trivedi, Pritam, and Vishal Dadlani to Rochak Kohli, Meet Bros and Amaal. He pegs himself as genre-or-sound-agnostic, drawing inspiration from the towering versatility of AR Rahman. "The mind boggles at how much Rahman has done," he smiles.
With multiple projects in the offing, many from pre-pandemic times, Roy hopes to make a mark in Hindi film music. He also plans on releasing some independent work in the future. "I've scuttled seamlessly between commercial and small-scale projects," he says. "But it's time I find my own space."