Music director Clinton Cerejo who worked on the background score for Kahaani (2012), has composed the sequel’s score as well.
Keeping a continuum between the two films, yet making a fresh score, we asked him how different would these two films sound? “The score is an edgy hybrid with a lot of percussive and synth-oriented elements. Last time the score was driving the movie forward in terms of pace as well as adding melodic value and that’s something I’ve tried to do this time as well. I’m doing the songs as well, so I hope to bring a cohesive sound to the film creating the mood that Sujoy (director) is going for,” he says.
For Kahaani, he collaborated with Amitabh Bachchan for Ekla Cholo Re, combining gospel music with traditional Bengali melody. Not revealing much about any such collaboration for this one, he says, “Working with Amitji as a singer was Sujoy and Vishal-Shekhar’s idea during Kahaani. Thereafter, I got the opportunity to work with Amitji again as a composer in Te3n (2016). This time we’re toying with different genres so I’m definitely casting singers based on what works best for each song. Also, this is my second film with Amitabh Bhattacharya penning the lyrics and we usually brainstorm together and decide to cast singers.”
Cerejo who has worked with music directors like AR Rahman, Vishal Bharadwaj and Sujoy Ghosh, enjoys immersing himself in different genres of music. “I usually end up watching and listening to a lot of music in that genre just to let those sounds seep in and for them to emerge in my own way while I’m composing. While I was composing the album Jugni (2016), it demanded a raw rustic folk approach and I was listening to a lot of Nusrat Saab (Nusrta Fateh Ali Khan) at that time. Sometimes, I just like to listen to nothing and let the silence influence me so that I can evaluate my own ideas objectively,” he says.
Having numerous awards to his name, including the Dadasaheb Phalke Film Festival award, does he ever feel that he could have done a project better? He has an almost zen-like approach when he says, “I guess every artist feels about their creation that it is never really finished. You have to abandon it at some point and say ok I have to release this. The desire to make it that 1% better will always be there, and you will always find ways to improve on it if you look hard enough. Also, we keep evolving as people so we may not feel the same way about our work a week after we’ve created it. So yes, I always have that feeling but at the same time I do have the ability to step back and just appreciate the finished product as a listener.”
After having given his voice for hits such as Hey Ya (Karthik Calling Karthik), Kya Karoon (Wake Up Sid) and Sooraj Ki Baahon Mein (Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobaraa) among others, he has formed two bands. He wishes to sing more, but sees a trend of composers turning singers for their compositions. He says, “I’d love to work more often as a singer with some of the composers as they write such fantastic songs. I guess these days a lot of composers end up singing their own songs. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because when you render your song as a composer you bring a certain something that is not always present when rendered by another singer. Of course, the reverse is also true. Sometimes you hear songs that are rendered by the composers themselves and you can’t help feeling that they should have called in a singer for whom that song seemed tailor-made; one who would have taken that song to another level.”
In this clutter of trending Bollywood music, retaining uniqueness of sound, yet giving a hit becomes a catch 22 situation. Cerejo has managed that and is humble about it. “I guess more than anything I’ve tried to retain my convictions in a musical climate where it’s getting increasingly difficult to do so. I love to work with unexpected elements and bring them together in a song and that usually works in my favour because people feel like they’ve not heard this instrument in this context or they didn’t expect this singer to sound like that. That’s what keeps it fresh. That, and listening. I think over the years listening has been my best teacher and continues to do so,” he concludes.