Polish music composer Zbigniew Preisner talks about his experience working on the Indian film Gaadha

An Indian film with music by a Polish composer. Interesting, isn’t it? That’s what Shaji N. Karun’s Gaadha promises. And, composer Zbigniew Preisner comes with an impressive repertoire of work behind him — he has scored the music for many of director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s films such as the Three Colours trilogy and many others’ films.

His awards include Silver Bear from the Berlin International Film Festival, two César Awards, and three consecutive citations as the year’s most outstanding composer of film music in The Los Angeles Critics Association Awards. Preisner was honoured by the International Eurasia Film Festival for his contribution to cinema and arts. Excerpts from an interview with the composer who was in Chennai recently.

How was it working for an Indian film with director Shaji Karun?

I have met Shaji at the Cannes film festival. We used to discuss films. I have watched some of his films at the festival, and liked them very much. He is one of the best filmmakers of your country. I was happy when he asked me to work with him. I liked working with him. I watched Slumdog Millionaire, and liked it. I also like the Indian music I listen to on English television channels.

This is your first visit to India. What is your impression of the sights and sounds you experienced?

I was in Mamallapuram and was stunned to see the sculptures there. I also saw the after-effects of the tsunami there. It seems like a nice place for meditation; there’s calm everywhere. But, I’m surprised at how people are able to drive here in this traffic. Besides, I had the privilege of meeting eminent musician Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna at his residence during my visit to Chennai.

Next year, we’ll be celebrating the centenary of Indian films.

I’m happy to work in an Indian film (produced by S. Muralidharan of Boston Media Works) that will be screened during the centenary. I’m particularly happy that the film is about a music composer!

Are you planning to work with Indian filmmakers?

I would love to. But, as of now, I want Shaji to work on a film about a Polish child saved by an Indian ambassador in World War II. This story is a part of history in Poland.

You have worked with legends such as Francis Ford Coppola and Krzysztof Kieslowski.

The nearly 17 years I spent with Krzysztof Kieslowski were a learning experience. As for Francis Ford Coppola, after I finished a musical score for his film, I remember him asking me not to change even a single sound in the score. I asked him why. He said that if the music was by a great composer, people would say the work was great. But with others who are struggling to make a mark, people would tell them what to do and spoil their good work. That was also a great learning experience for me.