Taking Centrestagehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/taking-centrestage-2/

Taking Centrestage

With back-to-back hits,composer Amit Trivedi is enjoying his banner year

His small studio — situated in a non-descript commercial building and a pothole-infested lane in Andheri — barely reflects its owner’s ascent to musical stardom; except for the presence of the posters of Dev D and Ghanchakkar that face each other at the end of its brief corridor. Moreover,Amit Trivedi arrives unfashionably right on time,driving from his home in his second hand car,and begins with the interview on a stoical note. “I don’t think I have had a dream run. Like everyone,I have had ups and downs. It’s been six years,and there’s a long way to go,” he says.

From being called the “next AR Rahman” to getting a nod from Rahman himself — the maestro recently sent him a text message complementing on his song Chowdhury in Coke Studio — Trivedi has emerged as the best thing in Bollywood music in a long time. Just as he was considered synonymous with the dark and edgy new age Hindi film music,after Aamir and his National Award-winning score for Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D,Trivedi swiftly changed gears to a light and breezy Aisha and a scene-stealing single Iktara in Wake Up Sid! The current year is turning into an Amit Trivedi banner year,with Kai Po Che!,Bombay Talkies,Ghanchakkar and Lootera.

Trivedi’s primary criterion for choosing a film,he says,is the script. “I look at it like a viewer who would spend 400 bucks on weekends. And as an audience,I seek anything that engages me naturally,excites me or takes me to new territories,” he says. No wonder that he creates most of the scores for films too. “Amit has a great script sense. And as filmmakers and storytellers,it can’t get any better,” says filmmaker Rajkumar Gupta,who has had the longest record of working with Trivedi — in his debut Aamir,No One Killed Jessica and now,Ghanchakkar.

Trivedi doesn’t enjoy explaining his music as much as he does creating it. As he says,“I am like a scientist who loves to experiment with sounds. Sometimes it works,sometimes it doesn’t.” This is his way of navigating the criticism that comes his way. “People didn’t receive Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu well,fans were not happy me doing such kind of stuff but I liked it,” he adds after a pause,“The film was a rom-com and asked for that kind of music; every time I can’t create a Dev D.”

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His more recent work,the anthem celebrating 100 years of Bollywood from Bombay Talkies,met with adverse reactions too when the composer attempted something drastically different. “I wanted to cover the soundscape of 100 years of Hindi film music in five minutes keeping the mukhda-antara-mukhda format typical of Bollywood music,the playback voices,even in terms of treatment it was like time travel from the ’30s. But it failed,” he says.

Trivedi’s non-formal background of music perhaps reflects in the ingenuity of his compositions. They emerge from an original approach that give way to unlikely fusion music like the adventurous use of bagpipes in a Gujarati garba number,Shubharambh from Kai Po Che!,or the use of dubstep in the title song of Ishaqzaade,a film set in the heartland of north India.

It has also shaped his unconventional use of singers and his lucid inclusion of lyrics. “He doesn’t go after the playback voices,he is more interested in the texture. Moreover,he arranges his own songs,which plays a vital part in his sound,” says lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya,whose collaboration with Trivedi has come to define a new kind of fresh Hindi film music. “But what makes his music so unique is the basic germ of the idea that brings out the best from everyone,” he says.

Trivedi’s music may speak a global,contemporary language but it is strongly rooted to Indian traditions,from folk to classical music to qawwali. In the past one year,Trivedi’s music has seen a heavy blend of folk music — Maharashtrian in Aiyya and English Vinglish,Punjabi in Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana,Rajasthani in Trishna,Gujarati in Kai Po Che! and Bengali in Lootera,all of which have a regional flavour. Personally,he is a passive consumer of music of all kinds,shapes and sizes,absorbing everything from Altaf Raja to Pink Floyd,or Hanz Zimmer to Baul. But his influences never eclipse his individuality. “I love listening to a particular kind of music but I would go in my direction and find things in the way I love. If I don’t match up to their standards,I ask myself,‘Am I creating? Am I being true to myself?’,” he says.

His next release is Vikas Bahl’s Kangna Ranaut-starrer Queen. Currently,while working on Kashyap’s ambitious period noir Bombay Velvet,set in the ’60s,he visits Europe and America to get a taste of authentic jazz of the times of Frank Sinatra.