My sound is my identity: Amit Trivedi
Amit Trivedi, who has composed three songs for The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, talks to us about collaborating with Dhanush, and also sheds light on his upcoming work
It's hard to get Amit Trivedi to look back on his career. “I choose to focus on what’s next, and how to make it better,” he says, despite repeated attempts from yours truly to have him reflect on his legacy. You can see why I had to try. Over the last 11 years, the composer has revitalised our mainstream film music while stringing together a discography that holds a distinct, yet commendably divergent, voice.
Amit’s new film, The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir, for which he has composed the Hindi and Tamil soundtracks, is a push into the experimental and at once, a return to familiar tunes. Directed by Ken Scott, the transnational comedy-adventure stars Dhanush as an Indian magician who travels to Paris, gets stuck in an IKEA wardrobe in London, lands up in Italy and Libya, and takes it from there. Amit has composed Angrezi Luv Shuv, Madaari and Maila Maila — three enjoyable ‘love’, ‘party’ and ‘theme’ songs — all streaming online ahead of the film’s release this Friday.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Was it different composing for a Hollywood film?
The requirement of the songs are just as we have in our films. What was different was the setup. We had a director from the West, known for making Hollywood films (Delivery Man, Unfinished Business). So it was interesting and refreshing to see these requirements from him.
My favourite is Angrezi Luv Shuv. You have provided the male vocals as well. How did you come up with the song?
There was a love angle between the protagonist (Dhanush) and the girl (Erin Moriarty). The guy is from a poor family background, who swindles people and along the way, reaches Paris. There, he meets the girl and falls in love. The director wanted to capture the feeling of pyaar between the characters. The writing of Angrezi Luv Shuv was born from that partnership.
Dhanush told us he loves your work. How was it collaborating with him?
For the Tamil version of Angrezi Luv Shuv, I flew down to Chennai and recorded Dhanush in AR Rahman sir’s studio. It was a great experience interacting with him. He’s a simple, confident, down-to-earth guy. It's fascinating to see a star like that, someone so humble and lovely. He’s a great actor too. I love his work.
What is your process of choosing voices for your songs?
I keep listening to a lot of singers here and there. When I am creating something, a suitable person’s voice comes in my mind. If it resonates with me, I call that person up. Sometimes, it works out, sometimes, it doesn't. At times, it's just trial and error.
Your music has always been narrative-driven. How natural have you become at reading a brief and translating it into music?
I jam a lot with my directors. There's a bonding that develops. It's a collaborative process — of bouncing off ideas and course-correcting each other. When more than one or two energies are working on a film, it always builds into something nice.
Having said that, there are films, and parts of films, that are difficult to score or create a song for. But having worked so much over the years, I think I have got the hang of it.
Any concerns over getting repetitive with your sound?
There's a big catch here. My sound is my identity. If I keep following my identity, then for some people, it becomes repetitive. But if I don't follow, they say, “Yeh toh badal gaya hai.” (He’s changed.) So it’s a strange place to be. It only means that you cannot keep everyone happy.
Do you care as much about audience feedback?
Yes, I do. As an artist, you are creating work for people to consume. If that consumer is not happy, it will bother you; I guess the same is true for everyone else, from a musician to the guy who sells washing machines. If a majority of people are saying something, then you must listen to it.
You are working across regions. There’s Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy. Then there are the Queen remakes in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada. There's also Mohan Krishna Indraganti’s V.
As the famous saying goes, music has no language. But to be honest, I don't understand Tamil or Telugu. So lyrically, I need a lot of help. I get supervisors and translators to work with me on songs.
Anything you could share about your upcoming Hindi film, Mission Mangal?
It's shaping up well. There aren't many songs. It's a score-heavy film, so I am having fun doing that. There isn't much of a space element to the music. The film has its own colour and beauty. It has come together wonderfully.