A look at his varied portfolio explains why he chose music over engineering as a profession. At 30, Abhishek Ray has many feathers in his cap, from composing the theme music for the Save the Tiger Project to Gulzar's albums “Udas Pani” and “Raat Chand Aur Main”, from music for albums for Discovery Channel and National Geographic to the item number “Shahar ki Rani” in “Tera Kya Hoga Johny”, Sudhir Mishra's film releasing this Friday. Recently in the Capital, Ray shared his vivid musical journey in a chat. Excerpts:
How did you choose music as a career? So many accomplishments at such a young age, how did you manage?
I had been in touch with music since childhood. During college I used to compose music for college fests, annual functions, etc. Music is my passion, my true calling. Before even starting my career as a musician, I had composed music albums for Discovery Channel and National Geographic.
So, did you choose music as your career choice?
I come from a highly educated Bengali family with strictly academic background. So, I could never say to my parents that I would not take up a job and wanted to be a musician. I graduated from Hansraj College in Physics and then did my MCA. Meanwhile, alongside studies, I pursued music as a hobby, and waited for the right moment. By the time I finished my studies, I already had given music to Gulzar's albums. I didn't need a start, I already had it. I was well established by then. So, my parents also didn't have a problem.
From the subtle genre of ghazals to funky item numbers, do . Do you find it difficult to adjust?
Gulzar's albums were based on the art of fusion, where poetry and music were blended together to create canvases in sound; purely a different kind of album, whereas, “Shahar ki Rani” is an out and out urban song. My quality is my range. I have also composed a music album ‘Amazing India', which is a musical journey through the heritage sites of India. I like to do things that interest me, and for that I choose a theme. I never limit myself to any particular genre.
What is your stance on the fast emerging trend of remixes and the growing DJ culture in the Indian musical scenario? And what about growing music theft?
Within the last decade, people suddenly seem to be obsessed with remixes. The main reason for that is piracy. Instead of producing something of their own, cheap artistes resort to stealing others' creations, and remix them. The whole remix industry is surviving under R.D. Burman. I would rather die than remix. It is like some Tom, Dick, Harry comes and paints the originally green Mona Lisa painting black and blue.Also, a trend of music theft seems to have prevailed over the Indian music industry. What is your take on that? The main reason for theft is the sheer lack of talent. Money has replaced talent. A lot of under-talented artists with lots of money foray into the music arena these days via sycophancy and nepotism.
Keeping that in view, what future does music hold in India?
I don't believe people's taste in music has been corrupted. Music composers are responsible for the remix trend and all. The Indian musical scenario is witnessing a change. People are getting tired of the remixes and bhangdas they are being stuffed with for the past 10 years. Of late, people have started appreciating sensible music. Indian people have got music in their blood. History stands witness to the fact that whenever there has been a good composition, people have always praised it and the composition has been a hit.
What more to come from your side?
Ten years on in this industry, and my work is finally getting recognition. I have many compilations stored, which I hope would now see the light of day. I am also looking forward to the release of the movies “Pan Singh Tomar” and “Shagird”, for which I have composed the music.