Bejoy Nambiar’s sophomore film David is a bilingual that traverses different worlds and time zones. If language was not enough of a challenge, he teamed up with a host of independent musicians and composers to produce two albums—with 15 songs in Hindi and nine in Tamil. The 33-year-old writer-director (whose debut Shaitan had an eclectic soundtrack) tells us about the role of music in his film-making process. Edited excerpts:
How do you put together the music for your movies?
I think of sounds and what kind of music would complement the scene while writing the script itself. I listen to a lot of music, especially independent artistes, and I work with a lot of new music directors. Some of these guys have contacted me through Facebook, email or are musicians I have met at gigs. I listen to a lot of music and then I start collecting the stuff that I think would be right for the script. That’s the process for me. When it came to David, we only composed two or three songs; the rest of was collected over a period of time. Though I am not musically trained, I use music to drive my film. When I am writing, it helps me to think of how I am going to structure a scene if I have the music in my head.
Do you work with a producer or a collaborator?
No, I do it on my own but I work closely with (music producer/composer) Prashant Pillai. Whatever I collect I bounce off him and get his feedback. He helped me put this album together. Our process is to get in the artiste, pre-record and then maybe adapt for our needs. For instance, Modern Mafia’s song was originally in English but we re-recorded it in Hindi (Bandhay). Prashant helped co-produce all of that.
There are a variety of genres within the same album—folk, rock, ballad, qawwali.
How do the many sounds fit ?
I hate being restricted in both my writing and in the way I choose music. This subject gave me scope to experiment with the music because there are three different stories set in three different worlds—three Davids in three different times.
The picturization and reworking of ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ in ‘Shaitan’ took audiences by surprise. What was it like interpreting that song?
When writing the script I had Lakdi ki Kaathi in mind. The characters were running to the “dauda dauda dauda” refrain. Then Mikey McCleary (composer/ producer) played me some other tracks he was working on. One was Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh and the other was Khoya Khoya Chand. The latter just blew us away. We placed it on the edit and it fit like a glove. We didn’t cut the scene to the music, we just fine-tuned it a bit, which is why it was like magic.
On ‘David’, you have re-recorded the ‘qawwali’ ‘Dama Dam Mast Kalandar’, sung by Rekha Bhardwaj.
Yes, it was written into the script. But we were clear that it had to have an alternative version for the way the picturization was going to happen—in the wedding, and to show how Neil’s (Neil Nitin Mukesh) character crosses over to the dark side.
While most Bollywood movies showcase one or two composers, you have aggregated multiple sounds and talents.
It’s challenging—not just in collating but also in convincing the film’s presenters and producers because most of them are used to the template of one composer doing it all. While that route may be easier, it does not mean you should not try something like this. It took me a while to convince the film’s presenters that I had to work with so many different composers. The stringent copyright laws make it harder still for the music label when things are scattered, but I hope there is a midway where we can all meet so that I can continue working this way.
In your downtime, which is your go-to band or musician?
A.R. Rahman, for any mood, any time of the day.
David released in theatres on Friday.