Why did you choose to venture into Malayalam and Tamil cinema with your new movie?
I wanted to be a part of the exciting work that is happening there. Malayalam cinema is going through a renaissance right now. Phenomenal work has been done in the last four-five years. The new films are not following any preset or formula, and even radically different stories are being accepted by the audience. Even in Tamil cinema the recent successes, apart from blockbusters, have been different.
While growing up, did you watch a lot of south Indian cinema?
I grew up on a staple of Malayalam and Tamil films. Malayalam cinema in the ’80s, with people like Padmarajan and Priyadarshan, was great. I was a huge Padmarajan fan, and in Tamil cinema, I loved Bharathiraja’s films.
How do the four stories in Solo come together?
What ties the stories together is that they’re about the four elements — fire, earth, wind and water. Dulquer Salmaan, who plays the protagonist in each of them, is named after Shiva, and the stories themselves are somehow connected to Shiva’s mythology. Solo’s music has been well-received, but the standout track is Aigiri nandini, as interpreted by Kochi-based rock band Thaikkudam Bridge.
How was it composed?
Aigiri nandini is a haunting track and it gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. I’ve heard many renditions of it and long had this idea of merging the song with Aadu pambe (Malayali folk song). I tried it with the theme of Wazir, but it didn’t work out. So when Solo was happening, I sought out Govind Menon (vocalist of Thaikkudam Bridge) and he just took it to another level.
Your cast is drawn from the different film industries of the country. Would you say that’s a risky move?
As much as I love working on the music for my films, I also enjoy casting. I do it myself, with my team. For Solo, we have a very eclectic cast — Manoj K Jayan, Renji Panicker, Dino Morea, Sai Tamhankar, and director Qaushiq Mukherjee, among others. And some of them really surprised me with how well they fit into the stories. Casting is always a risk, of course, because sometimes you make the right choices, and sometimes you don’t.