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Travel diaries: Music composer Shantanu Moitra on his Himalayan expedition

Beyond the snow-capped peaks, composer Shantanu Moitra says the Himalayas offer a lesson in survival

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Oct 08, 2016 18:02 IST
Beyond the snow-capped peaks, composer Shantanu Moitra says the Himalayas offer a lesson in survival
Beyond the snow-capped peaks, composer Shantanu Moitra says the Himalayas offer a lesson in survival (Photo courtesy: Shantanu Moitra )

His Facebook timeline is flooded with posts from his ongoing expedition - 100 Days in the Himalayas. Beyond the snow-capped mountains, composer Shantanu Moitra says the Himalayas offer a lesson in survival.

Anyone growing up in Mumbai has memories of escaping to Mahabaleshwar and Matheran for weekend getaways. But for Delhi kids, mountains are their second home. Bollywood composer Shantanu Moitra (48) is no different. As a child, growing up in Delhi, he has fond memories of the mountains of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. So much so, that the music composer of films such as Parineeta (2005), Eklavya (2007) and PK (2014), insists that “mountains came first. Music came later”.

From Moitra’s travel log. (Photo courtesy: Shantanu Moitra )

In February, this year, he announced on Twitter that he was going to spend 100 days in the Himalayas. Soon, videos and photographs from Kedarnath (Uttarakhand), Sandakphu (West Bengal) and Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) showed up online. Moitra is now back in the city, exactly halfway through his 100-day project. But not for long. He begins the second part of the journey on October 15. His tentative route is: Nepal — Tibet — Arunachal Pradesh — Sikkim — Bhutan.

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From Moitra’s travel log. (Photo courtesy: Shantanu Moitra )

The idea for the expedition was born in the Andaman Islands last year. “I was there with a friend, wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee. He suggested the idea, and the decision to take a sabbatical gave me the push,” says Moitra, who has earlier trekked to the Everest base camp, and narrowly missed a near-fatal avalanche.

The composer speaks eloquently of being cut off from mobile networks, and not having to deal with traffic. He says the brilliance of the Himalayan sky, especially at 7am when the peak of Kanchenjunga mountain lights up, is second to none. “It seems like God put a torch light at the crest; it’s magical.”

Moitra (right) with photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee at Singalila National Park, Darjeeling. (Photo courtesy: Shantanu Moitra )

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Sound of silence

Interestingly, Moitra didn’t carry any recorder on this journey. A bit odd for a music composer. But the visuals conjure tunes in your mind, he tells us. The composer spent most of the evenings in his tent singing scratches of tunes he would come up with during the day.

The sparse instrumentation in his music, he says, also stems from his love for the rocky terrain. “The hills have organically merged with my music. As a composer, I am averse to noise. I love some space in my music. On my return, I would find peace only in the confines of my recording studio — soundproof and noiseless,” he says.