Sam CS: My work is my identity

Composer Sam CS speaks about his work in recent releases, Rocketry, Suzhal, and Saani Kaayidham and promising upcoming films including Kaithi 2 and the Hindi adaptation of Vikram Vedha
Sam CS
Sam CS

Artists yearn for recognition. At some point in their career, they hope to get answers to questions like, "Who am I?" and "What am I good at?" Some artists spend sleepless nights mulling over a lack of deserved recognition, but not composer Sam CS. "People might not know Sam CS but they know his work for sure," he says.

Sam narrates an enterprising incident that reaffirmed this belief. "During a train journey, I accidentally jammed a fellow passenger’s leg with my suitcase. He swore at me, and I apologised to assuage his anger. But moments later, that person's phone rang, and it was the 'Thananananana' theme from Vikram Vedha," says a smiling Sam.

In a career spanning 12 years, Sam has composed super-hit tracks in films like Vikram Vedha, Kaithi, Puriyatha Puthir, Nota, and Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raniyum, among several others. Looking back at this journey, Sam recollects that the little attention and appreciation he received while doing stage performances during his school and college days drove this IT professional to become a full-fledged musician. “Initially, I wanted to become a lyricist. Later, I realised my inclination towards composing. When I quit my well-paid job and came to Chennai to pursue music, all I wanted was for people to know me for my work. I wanted my work to become my identity and address,” Sam shares.

The first half of 2022 has been fulfilling for Sam. His discography for the year has much-appreciated projects like Saani Kaayidham, Suzhal, and Rocketry: The Nambi Effect... so far. Reminiscing on his work from Arun Matheswaran's Saani Kaayidham, Sam reiterates Ilaiyaraaja’s dogma: Silence is the best form of music. "In moments like grief and sorrow, it is very important for the audience to deeply feel the emotion. For such instances in the film, I opted for silence instead of music. I learned this from the maestro,” Sam says.

While the concept of having songs in long-form storytelling narratives like web series is uncommon, Sam has redefined this idea by composing over 13 tracks for Suzhal, the Amazon original series. “We didn't initially plan to have songs in the series. It happened organically when I was composing and I felt that the emotions in a few scenes could be elevated with the use of lyrics. Hence, we chose to have songs," says Sam, whose background score in Suzhal too has received much appreciation. "We used a mix of folk instruments and Western orchestra to create the oscillating moods of myth and thrill in the series.”

While Saani Kaayidham and Suzhal were OTT releases, the first big-ticket theatrical outing for Sam this year was the recently released Rocketry: The Nambi Effect. While both his work and the film are receiving a lot of love from audiences and critics, Sam goes back in time to talk about how the collaboration with Madhavan germinated.

"In fact, it happened at the success meet of Vikram Vedha in 2017. Madhavan spoke to me about this biopic of scientist Nambi Narayanan he had in mind, and how the film travelled across continents," says Sam, adding that fitting the music of Rocketry to the various settings was a challenge in itself. "There were a few sequences set in Russia at the time when it was still the USSR. So, we did a bit of research and found the national anthem of that period. We have recreated it for the establishment scene. Likewise, for scenes set in France, we found popular songs of that period and recreated them,” Sam notes.

Following the release of Kamal Haasan-starrer Vikram, fans are eagerly waiting for more to come from the Lokesh Cinematic Universe. Incidentally, Kaithi, the film that gave birth to this universe, had music by Sam, and the composer reveals that he is likely to collaborate with the filmmaker for Kaithi 2 too.“Recently, I had a conversation with Lokesh. He said there are plans for Kaithi 2, and we will work together. I am looking forward to it and hope it happens,” Sam adds.

Besides, Sam is also reuniting with the filmmaker duo Pushkar and Gayathri for the Hindi remake of Vikram Vedha. Sam is taking care of the background score and two songs in the upcoming film starring Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan.

While Sam agrees that associating with a star-vehicle is a sure-shot formula to getting wider recognition, there are more facets to his idea of reward. "I compose wholeheartedly with an aim to give a good quality output every single time. I feel a sense of contentment when that effort is recognised and appreciated,” he says.

Even as some of his tunes have garnered great reception from the audience and have been widely shared on social media, Sam believes that not all recognition is reflective of the quality. “Not all trending songs are good and not all good songs go viral,” he signs off.

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