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The music for ‘Tumbbad’ required a lot of experimentation, says composer Jesper Kyd

Remember Tumbbad? The beautifully shot, rain-drenched period horror film tells of Vinayak and Hastar, the forgotten son of the goddess of prosperity.

The film, directed by Rahi Anil Barve and Adesh Prasad was released last October and won many awards for cinematography, special effects and sound design. But the music by Jesper Kyd, most say, is pretty memorable too. Hailing from Denmark and based in Los Angeles, the composer and sound designer won a BAFTA (British Academy Film Award) Games Award in 2005 for Best Original Music for the Hitman: Contracts video game. Works such as this is what attracted a willing ear from India.

The music for ‘Tumbbad’ required a lot of experimentation, says composer Jesper Kyd

Despite working arduously across a 13-hour time difference with producers Aanand L Rai and Sohum Shah (who’s also in the film), Jesper seems to show a little regret at not having come to India, saying it’s on his bucket list. “The first thing I took away while working on Tumbbad was that the team was just so passionate about this film. Prior to working on the project, they’d provided me with rough cuts of the film and I was just blown away by the visuals. The material was just so unique that it didn’t remind me of anything else and I knew I wanted to be involved. The images and visuals have so much depth and the music had to reflect that and required a lot of experimentation which I’m used to in the video game industry — it was a comfortable approach. I just fell in love with the story because it’s so relevant, especially in 2019. The music needed to have serious notes with a lot of weight.”

Jesper, though, says there was a direction with composition for Tumbbad in which he’d never ventured before. He’s no novice, after all. But he was totally new to Indian musical profiles and instruments — and Jesper had to adapt quickly. “I did a ton of experimentation and that’s how my musical style changed a bit. The team of Tumbbad did not want me to be inspired by neither Indian music nor Western music... but more of something in between, which is why they wanted to work with me. With the cymbalam, I was free to experiment and tweaking the sound. We recorded a lot of it and we weren’t initially sure where the main musical theme would come from. It took a lot of work.”

The 47-year-old admits he still keeps in touch with the Tumbbad team. “I especially keep in touch with the one half of the directing duo, Adesh Prasad; we talked every night for a solid nine months. I’d get on Skype at midnight and we’d just formulate. It was awesome how much time was spent on these conversations, exchanging ideas and notes. It was a great way of working with a good rhythm. It’s wild to think I’ve never met Adesh (we had planned to meet a few times) at different events but it hasn’t happened yet.”

The music for ‘Tumbbad’ required a lot of experimentation, says composer Jesper Kyd

Can Jesper recall the moment he was finally done working on the music? He affirms, “At the end, you kind of think you’re done and then there’s a little more... then there’s a change, and then the opening is done and so is the animation. I didn’t feel we were done until we were finished with the 5.1 mix, which required a lot of hard work. That’s when I was able to say ‘we’ve delivered the music and it’s ready for the theatre experience’ and also relax a bit. Placing the music in that surround feel was such a great experience!”

Jesper has been writing music everyday since he was 13 years old; he says the music industry and being a composer demands a vast amount of work ethic and creativity and with more projects coming out soon, he’s nowhere near slowing down.

‘Tumbbad’ is available to watch on Amazon Prime India. The original soundtrack by Jesper Kyd is available on major streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and more.

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Printable version | Jun 10, 2021 8:01:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/a-year-later-the-music-for-tumbbad-required-experimentation-says-composer-jesper-kyd/article29879460.ece

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