Manorama Six Feet Under director Navdip Singh’s film Chamkila hasn’t gone on the floors yet, but the movie’s lead actor, Kunal Kapoor, has already been asked to enroll himself in singing classes to lend authenticity to his role. Kapoor plays a singer who’s a fan of Punjab’s renowned singer, Amar Singh Chamkila, who was assassinated in 1988.
Amit Trivedi, who is composing music for the movie, says, “We’ve asked Kunal to learn how to sing, since it will do justice to his character of a folk singer. With someone else’s voice, I may end up looking unreal.” But Trivedi maintains that Kapoor will be asked to sing for the movie only if he’s unable to find any folk singer whose voice would suit his persona. In fact, the composer, who has given music for Dev D and Aamir, recently spent a week in Punjab with lyricist Shellee to look for folk singers with a voice that will suit the actor’s character in the movie.
“We auditioned singers in Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and in many villages in Punjab to find raw, rustic, Punjabi ki mitti voices,” says the composer. “We unearthed some real gems and heard some pure, raw sons of our soil sing brilliant folk [songs]— the kind that’s unfortunately dying these days.”
The composer was also impressed with the sound of traditional folk instruments. “It was a rare phenomena to hear such instruments live, which are on the verge of extinction. Like, there’s an instrument called ‘algoza’, which has a sound similar to playing two flutes at the same time — it hasn’t been heard of in Bollywood. Today, everyone wants to take up a guitar and be a rockstar and such instruments are dying out,” he rues. Trivedi plans to use such instruments in Chamkila as well as upcoming projects.
But even though the composer-lyricist duo found voices of great potential, none of them matched in texture with Kapoor’s voice. Trivedi will keep the playing field wide open.
“I found a singer called Major Khan whose voice seemed to fit, but when I heard his recordings back here, it didn’t excite me as much,” rues the composer. “But I did find a Rajasthani folk group and a Punjabi band that I may invite to Mumbai soon. As of now, the search is still on.”