Harmony With AR Rahman: Discovering the sounds of India
Sruti Harihara Subramaniam, talks about her new musical documentary, Harmony With AR Rahman, which marks the composer's web series debut
Oscar-winner AR Rahman will be making his web series debut through Harmony, an Amazon Prime exclusive, non-fictional, live-episodic series based on the music of India, which will feature him interacting with four musicians from four different parts of the country--Maharashtra, Kerala, Sikkim and Manipur--discussing music and culture. The series, directed by National Award-winning filmmaker, Sruti Harihara Subramanian, is entirely shot with live sync sound, over a period of six months and the final episode will feature Rahman performing with the musicians. Interestingly, Kavithalayaa Productions, which produced AR Rahman's film debut, Roja, is the co-producer of Harmony.
Asked how she came on board the project, director Sruti says, "I had won two National Awards for my previous documentary, A Far Afternoon- A Painted Saga, and incidentally, I was launched as an actor by K Balachander through the TV serial, Sahana. So Kavithalaya productions called me and they shared their idea of venturing into the web space with a non-fiction based on music. I found this idea exciting and took up the offer at once as I love music." The filmmaker and her team did extensive research for eight months to find interesting musicians playing rare instruments. "We were also keen to make sure that there was diversity in their location and gender. After a lot of research, we approached AR Rahman, who was very impressed with our work and immediately agreed to be a part of the project."
About the making of the series, Sruti adds, "We wanted to tell a visually impressive story. Though it's a documentary we treated it like a feature film. Since the entire series was recorded using live sync sound, we had to make sure that the locations we shoot in were both beautiful and noise-free. So it took roughly six months of production as we had to shoot the series across the country."
Asked whether the newly emerging web series trend will adversely affect feature films, she says, "Good cinema will always live, there is no doubt about that. If I had conceived a documentary like this two or three years ago, I don't think I would've had a proper platform to launch my work. I think media streaming platforms are giving a great opportunity for filmmakers who want to try something out of the ordinary. They also give our work wider exposure. So such online streaming services can be an amazing launch pad for many creators in the future."
Questioned about her feature film debut, Sruti says, "A lot of things have to come together for a film to be made. It is not a single person's decision. I have many feature film scripts with me right now in various genres like children's fantasy, family drama, dark humour, and thriller. I love to experiment with my work, and don't want to be branded as a director who can make only a particular kind of film."
The Amazon Prime exclusive, Harmony with AR Rahman will be available for streaming from August 15.