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Off the beat

india Updated: Jan 31, 2009 11:50 IST
Tasneem Nashrulla

If you're one of those who cannot get the loony tune of ‘Emotional atyachaar’ (featuring Patna ke Presleys) out of your head, you have one person to blame — Amit Trivedi, composer of Dev.D, Aamir and musician du jour. And to think that he composed that song “in 20 minutes flat”.

Credited with a whole new sound of his own after merely two films to his name, Trivedi is being touted as the next A.R. Rahman. The comparison, however, doesn’t flatter the 29-year-old. “No, no, no,” he splutters, looking boyish with his pierced ear. “This is atyachaar (torture)! Rahman is on another level. Being even 0.1 per cent as good as he is is impossible in a lifetime,” he says.

We’re sitting in Trivedi’s office and I can see a Rolling Stone magazine with the Beatles on the cover lying next to an unread script; elsewhere, blues and jazz CDs vie for space with Iron Maiden’s. Trivedi loves the Beatles and Sting, and reckons Coldplay is the best rock act of this decade. The tracks for his next film, with Aamir director Raj Kumar Gupta, have been inspired, “not copied,” he emphasises, by electronica band Zero 7. Clearly, Trivedi’s musical influences aren’t Bollywood, with the exception of Madan Mohan, R.D. Burman and, of course, Rahman — his idols.

Go back 10 years, and you would have found Trivedi making music for the odd dandiya event or a Gujarati play.

“I have done everything a growing musician has to do,” he says — theatre, stage shows, TV serials, and a college band called Om, whose only album “flopped badly”. He also played keyboard for music director Rajesh Roshan.

But the definitive phase of his career was in advertising. “My bandmate Bobo and I composed jingles for more than 1,000 ads over four years. It was challenging, but great fun. I miss those days,” he sighs.

A chance meeting with Anurag Kashyap in January 2007 led to Trivedi’s foray into Bollywood. In search of a new musician with a different sound for Dev.D, Kashyap found his man in Trivedi. Within six months, he had composed six tracks for the film — all of which were approved by Kashyap and producer UTV at one go.

“I cannot explain how nervous I was when I played my tracks for Anurag,” he recalls. “It seemed like there was no oxygen in the air.”

Trivedi can now breathe easy. After receiving rave reviews for Aamir’s music, which Kashyap recommended him for, and now Dev.D, he is busy rejecting scripts — eight at last count. “I also rejected Ramu’s (Ram Gopal Verma) film Veerappan,” he admits. Before one can misconstrue this bold admission as vanity, he clarifies that he is very choosy about the films he does. “The script needs to trigger my sensibilities,” he says.

Which leaves him wondering if he could ever compose music for a Yash Raj film. “I like experimental cinema. But I’m open to making music for them. I just don’t know how,” he says bemusedly.

Strangely, Trivedi hadn’t touched a musical instrument till the tenth grade. He was often broke in his youth and his father thought he was wasted as a struggling musician. He himself disbelieved his mother’s prediction that he’d have his own music studio at the age of 28. Last year, he got his own studio.

“I go with the flow of things. It’s all written,” he says with a shrug. By his own admission, Trivedi was no child prodigy. But he seems to be destiny’s child.