US composer Wayne Sharpe, who worked with Tim Starnes, the music editor of Lord Of The Rings and Twilight, on his score, in conversation.
What attracted a Hollywood music composer to India?
(Chuckles) Prakash Jha wanted an international sound for Gangaajal and someone suggested my name. He heard my music, liked my stuff, and invited me to India to work on the music. And I love India! Coming down here was a dream! You guys have some of the best musicians in the world.
How has it changed your music?
In India, I learnt how to blend the sound of Indian instruments into my music. Now, when I make a song, I don’t ‘add’ an Indian instrument to it, the Indian sound is a part of my music.
Were you aware of Indian music before you started working here?
Oh yes! I had been studying them for years on my own. I’m a huge fan of people who were doing this kind of music in the West. Like Peter Gabriel – his music for The Last Temptation of the Christ was way beyond his time. I’m also a huge fan of the music of Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar and Ustad Sultan Khan.
Have people in the West ever found your music ‘too Indian’?
(Laughs) Funnily, they come to me now because they want this sound in their music. I’m able to give them a world music feel.
In Raajneeti, you recorded Dhan dhan dharti in three countries.
I record in the country where the musicians would best achieve what I want. So I composed the Western part of my song in my studio in New York, the orchestral part in Prague, and the Indian parts in Mumbai. It was my first Bollywood song and I worked on it with three legends — Gulzar, Shankar Mahadevan and Sonu Nigam. They were just masterful!
Were you nervous when recreating Vande mataram?
I was, and at the same time, very aware that I was a non-Indian recreating the Indian national song. But we treated it very differently.
You haven’t done any commercial Bollywood movie so far.
Yeah, that’s by choice. I like doing romantic comedies, but I really enjoy composing dark music for dramas or thrillers. You can be more creative with such music. The best thing about Lahore and Prakash’s films was that the music wasn’t there just for effect… The music had a definite purpose.