April 28, 2014 12:06:50 am
When debut director Sai Kabir was looking for a quirky score for his recently released black comedy, Revolver Rani, he asked his friend and composer Sanjeev Srivastava to make his way to an Andheri studio and “belch” a tribute to the ’70s.
The result is the retro title track that has Usha Uthup crooning with lungfuls of air in a zany showcase, the lyrics of which go Yahaan bandookon ke paas bhasha hai/ Mohabbat ka khooni tamasha hai. “With due respect to composers creating retro music today, I do not like the idea of modernising tunes and blending it with contemporary beats,” says 39-year-old Srivastava, who has used wailing trumpets and congos in the title song.
We may moan about the botch up of the present generation of composers who pick up where the latter day RD Burman left, but Srivastava sounds are like that of a heavyweight from the ’90s music scene, attempting to be ’70s, with tunes that veer between RD Burman, Bappi Lahiri and Nadeem Shravan. He picks from all the right sources to deliver an inspired and unusual score.
But then Srivastava, a relatively unknown name in Bollywood until now, is also not your usual musician. If Revolver Rani is a song that hits all the right notes, Srivastava’s 13 other tracks showcase his proficiency over a range of genres. While he blends the soft melodic textures in Asha Bhosle’s voice with Kaafi nahi chand, he shows his classical prowess with Banna Banni that uses a blend of raag Desh and Malhar and a rustic touch in Thaayen Kare. Just when one is getting to understand the style, there is Avi Dutta’s rendition of Bol rahi hai payal, where he apes Kumar Sanu and even goes a little out of sync the way Sanu does in his live concerts now. Srivastava extends his quirk to We Mix You Michael Jackson and keeps things nice and nasty with a crazy blend of a jagran style of vocals, wedding band, disco beats and MJ’s trademark scream.
“It’s a crazy mix and all of it jumps so many genres. But that’s exactly how the film moves. The songs are to be a soundtrack for the film and that’s how I’ve created them,” says Srivastava.
Growing up in a middle-class Andheri household, Srivastava learnt ragas from his mother, a sangeet visharad, who would punctuate her housework with teaching sessions of Hindustani classical music. Else, it was the record player spinning classics from LPs. But it was RD Burman’s music that struck a chord with him. “There was some kind of music always playing, that put the idea of being a singer in my head. I would even go and sit through the sessions of RD Burman’s recordings of 1942–A Love Story,” says Srivastava. When Burman got Kumar Sanu to croon the songs in a Santacruz studio, a 17-year-old Srivastava sat in the room, observing every direction he gave, every note he corrected, every interlude he included, and every cigarette he smoked.
A few years later, Srivastava gave up his MBA and began making music, composing the debut albums for Jaspinder Narula and Meet Brothers. But the going got tough and there was hardly any work till 2007, a year when he was asked to score for Kabir’s venture, Chemistry; but the film got shelved. It took seven years for Srivastav’s debut film score to finally make an appearance. But over the course of one proper film score and other potential releases, Srivastava has indicated a strong sense of artistry and delivered an endearing yet unconventional score. Despite trying to be dated, the score sounds relevantly retro. “I have this great ‘70s hangover. Revolver Rani has summed it all up. I will be looking to try new things soon,” says Srivastav. We will be listening.
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