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‘A confluence of the past and present’

Celebrating surprise Music director Charan Raj Photo: Murali Kumar K.

Celebrating surprise Music director Charan Raj Photo: Murali Kumar K.  

It is the piano that first draws you into the composition. Soon after, the strong and sure voice of Siddhant opens the piece in a style that is straight out of old school jazz. You are thinking of Nat King Cole and his Unforgettable perhaps? The words Siddhant sings, penned by actor Rakshit Shetty, are steeped in the ethos of Kannada. But the phrases he delineates and the cluster of notes he lets tumble belong firmly to what seems like dinner jazz. So, you let yourself be swathed in the ‘pallavi in jazz style’.

Just as you begin to lose yourself, the song takes a sweeping turn and in comes the tabla and the sitar to pull you towards the Indian classical. An absolute surprise, yes, but a delightful turn nevertheless.

This rather eccentric but beautiful experience is music director Charan Raj’s composition, “Naa Ee Sanje Ge”, a track he composed for Hemant Rao’s Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu. The film, which released last Friday, stars Ananth Nag, Rakshit Shetty, Shruti Hariharan and Achyuth Kumar.

“Naa Ee Sanje Ge” is just one among the nine songs that Charan has composed for the film. The film’s music jukebox which is up on YouTube has already garnered a favourable response. A few comments even go on to call it the ‘album of the decade’. The songs are just ‘killing me…’ said another comment.

Charan Raj was actually apprehensive about how this particular album would do. Having composed for P. Sheshadri’s Harivu and Vardhik Joseph’s Mandya to Mumbai which were festival releases , this is Charan’s first commercial album. “I knew the album wasn’t sounding ‘cinematic’ in the conventional sense. It was sounding very Indie. That made me apprehensive. But I also knew that the soul of the songs was intact and hoped that would engage the audience,” he says.

Hemanth Rao, the director of the film, knew Charan from before. Once the first draft of the script was ready, Hemanth briefed Charan about the kind of music he was looking for. “Since I knew him, I knew that the same music and musicians excite both of us. Hemanth didn’t narrate situations in the film and say this is where he needs a song. Instead, he just let me absorb the story. Then, I came up with tunes which are more like themes for the different characters in the film. Hemanth then incorporated them into the film,” explains Charan.

Trained in Carnatic music by Perumbavur Raveendranath in Thiruvananthapuram and Western Classical music by Neecia Majolly, Charan also has a grade eight certificate in piano from the London School of Music. He has programmed for Ricky Kej and has also sung a song in his Grammy-winning album. He has worked as an arranger for directors such as Prashant Pillai. For Godhi Banna.., however, he was at the helm of affairs. So how did he go about composing the album?

“The script itself was different. Usually, there are certain ‘requirements’ in a film album – the first and second love songs, a dance number and so on. But, here it was all based on the characters in the film. No lip-sync, only music that creates a mood. Hemanth encouraged me to incorporate other genres. We are both fans of jazz, so we used old school jazz. Then we felt if we get Indian influences, people may be able to relate to it better.”

There is an element of surprise in almost every track in the album. “We’ve consciously tried to bring in a confluence of the past as well as the present. Some parts of the song take you back to Doordarshan days, which is also what Hemanth was inspired by. Since the script is full of surprises, we thought the music too should embody that element of wonder.”

There are some aspects that Charan insisted on. For instance, the live recording of all songs.

“Nowadays music has become extremely keyboard-ish. There is a charm to live recording where each artist brings his emotion to the piece too. This can never be substituted and it adds a certain warmth to the track.

” Charan also composed the interludes and insisted on giving the sarangi, the sitar, each of the wind instruments their due.

Urged by the producer, Charan and Hemanth also retained the right to the music with themselves, a one-of-a-kind move in recent times. Does he want to change anything in any of the songs in his first ever album?

“Oh, I was changing things even the day before the audio release. Given a choice, I’d change things even today! A song is never really over…”

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 4:55:19 AM |

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