Gustavo Santaolalla hasn’t even completed a week in the city, but the composer is already smitten by the sights, and of course, the sounds of Mumbai.
The man behind the background scores of award-winning films like Amores Perros (2000), The Motorcyle Diaries (2004), Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Babel (2006), is in Mumbai “seeking inspiration” for his first Indian movie, Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghaat. And he seems to have found plenty.
“Shankar Mahadevan’s voice has blown my mind,” Santaolalla gushes. “He’s already become one of my favourite singers. I’m definitely collaborating with him, though I’m not sure on what.” Mahadevan and Santaolalla jammed on a few songs at Dhobi Ghaat producer Aamir Khan and Rao’s industry-do on Saturday night.
Mahadevan’s rendition of Maa, from Taare Zameen Par (2007), left the Argentinean musician impressed. “I hope that something can work out between my band, Bajofondo and Shankar,” says the composer, who still hasn’t decided which singers he would like to use for the Dhobi Ghaat score.
“But I definitely want to mix Indian sounds to my own. I’m very drawn to sounds of the Carnatic flute and the veena. This movie has given me a great excuse to use these instruments apart from the more obvious others, like the sitar and the tabla,” he says.
Santaolalla, who according to Rao, “has done some of the most evocative and moving film music ever”, came on board the project after she showed him the film. “I usually compose for movies before they are shot, since I like to work from my connection with the script,” he says. “This film depicts Mumbai in a beautiful and frank style, unlike the traditional Bollywood manner.”
The composer has been touring the locations where the film was shot, to record the sounds of the city. “I came during the monsoon since the film takes place around then. And the rain has been a great inspiration too,” he smiles. Santaolalla, who is “aware of the AR Rahman phenomenon,” admits to being a fan of Ravi Shankar, L Shankar and Debashish Bhattacharya, before leaving us with the news that he is now laying out plans for an India tour with his band, Bajofondo.