Satish Chakravarthy on his association with A. R. Rahman and scoring music for the recently released Kanimozhi

Satish Chakravarthy has scored the music for Kanimozhi, which hit the screens last Friday. The film, directed by Sripathi Rangasamy, features Jai and Shazahn Padamsee in the lead.

A product of the Berklee College of Music, Satish learnt to play the piano from some of the greats there. In an interview, he talks about how music became his bread and butter, his association with A. R. Rahman and how he was able to gain a foothold in the Tamil film industry. Excerpts:

How did music come into your life?

I started learning the piano at the tender age of five from Mrs. Meena, daughter-in-law of the legendary Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Then I continued my classes under George Harris, Jacob John and Geetha Menon. It was under Geetha's excellent tutelage that I was exposed to western singing and lyric writing apart from piano performance.

When did you join A. R. Rahman?

After coming back from Berklee, I got an opportunity to assist none other than A. R.

Rahman; it proved to be the greatest learning experience. Not only was he a great boss but also a wonderful friend and mentor. During the recording of Jodhaa Akbar, he sat next to me and gently prodded me to focus on my own career as a composer apart from just assisting him — this gave me the confidence to strike out on my own. And I composed the music for my first film Leelai.

How did Kanimozhi happen?

T. Siva of Amma Creations who listened to the music of Leelai asked me to come over to his office. At his instance, director Sripathi Rangasamy also listened to the songs and was impressed. He narrated the script of Kanimozhi to me. I realised the story was unique and would offer me great scope to come up with good melodies and a meaningful background score.

What was the public response to the audio release of Kanimozhi like?

It was a big day — people from different walks of life appreciated the music. They said it had a new sound.

Kanimozhi has live sound and how did you make it work?

I was impressed with Sripathi's confidence in making silence eloquent in the background score, hence, the music becomes a character in the film. The producers and director have taken Tamil cinema one step closer to Hollywood by boldly employing live sound recording instead of dubbing the dialogues. This has enabled Jai, the hero, to prove that he is an actor of incredible spontaneity — he makes you feel this film is just a slice of his everyday life.

s. r. ashok kumar