Interview Composer Babith George talks about his debuting in Mollywood with Dracula 2012
Debut composer Babith George seems to be on a musical high as he talks about his work in director Vinayan’s new horror flick Dracula 2012 , which released on Friday. In Tamil, the film is named Naangam Pirai (releasing next week) and in Telugu, it’s called Punnamirathri .
“Parijatha Pookkal...’ is my favourite of the two songs in the film. I think of it as a very Malayali melody, a mix of classical and Eastern music. The tempo flows in accordance with the lyrics – the pallavi starts off in a fast tempo and the anupallavi is in a lower tempo, which is quite unusual for a playback number...,” says Babith, bursting into the song (quite melodiously, in fact) to further explain the variation in tempo. “The tune for the pallavi came to me suddenly when I was on a trip to Ponmudi,” says the city-based composer.
Babith has also composed the melody ‘Manju Pole...’, an R&B track (a sort of a mellow version of hip hop), where the beats are slow but the song itself is relatively fast. “I’ve had a lot of young people calling me up to say that they really like the song,” says Babith, who has also done the background score for the movie.
“More than the playback songs, it’s the background score that is at the heart of the movie. Initially, I was supposed to compose only the songs. Many thanks to Vinayan sir for choosing me for both because it takes a lot of faith on the director’s part to give them both to a newcomer,” says Babith, who was introduced to the director by his friend Rajesh Kadamba, his former colleague at Asianet back when he was the channel’s in-house music composer (2000-02).
Incidentally, Vinayan is quite well-known for introducing new talents into the industry. “To be honest, getting into films is not just about calibre – there are, for instance, more than 25 other music directors like myself in the city alone. It's also about being in the right place at the right time,” says Babith.
The composer admits that it’s been a “long” journey to Mollywood. “But I was prepared to tough it out,” he says. Babith is a graduate of mechanical engineering from CUSAT, Kochi and also holds a degree in media management from Metropolitan College of New York, New York, but music, he says, has always been his dream.
“All throughout my childhood and college days (pre-degree from Arts College) I was very interested in music. For a while, I was part of a city-based Western music band called Windmill. Later while studying in Kochi and even when I was studying and working in New York, I used to rent two rooms, in one of which I set up a home studio for recording music. So in the evenings after college/work there would always be people at home recording and revelling in music,” says Babith.The first jingle he composed was for Elayum Mullum (1994) on Doordarshan, just after he passed out of school (Loyola). “The turning point in my career happened in 1997, when I met A. R. Rahman at the Panchathan Recording Inn. I realised the potential of computers in music production, and pioneered the concept in Kerala. I set up (perhaps) Kerala’s first digital audio workstation-based recording studio in Kochi in 1997,” says Babith, who now runs Aquila recording studio in the city.
It was in New York, however, that he decided that music was the way forward. “While there, I was able to perform and recorded with various artistes on small and big projects and was thus exposed to musical genres from across the world. Perhaps that’s why my style of music is truly world music,” says Babith. “I missed the music scene in India and honestly, I missed eating porotta and beef fry too! So I moved back to India. Since then I have been busy working on several jingles and other small-time projects until Mollywood finally beckoned.” Looks like, we’ll be seeing a lot of Babith.
More than the playback songs, it’s the background score that is at the heart of the movie