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Old world charmer

Composer Shantanu Moitra’s score in a period love story is his tribute to the music of the Fifties, writes Madhusree Chatterjee.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2007 22:34 IST
Madhusree Chatterjee
Madhusree Chatterjee
Hindustan Times

Khoya Khoya Chand

… The title track of the eponymous film by Sudhir Mishra starring Soha Ali Khan and Shiney Ahuja has Shantanu Moitra written all over it. The film is period and so is composer Shantanu, who draws liberally from his “guru” Salil Chowdhury to create the essence of the era. “Salil Chowdhury is predictably unpredictable. That’s what I like about him,” says Shantanu.

The 39-year-old composer is traditional at heart. “The sounds of the soil appeal to me,” says Shantanu though he picks up “what ever sounds good.” An avid traveller, Shantanu has a strange wanderlust: “For me, music is the fastest way to travel to another world.”

The quiet man with a boyish voice started out as an accounts executive with a leading advertising agency. But his “genetic grounding” in classical music took him to Bollywood. “My father was a classical musician from Benaras. He played the sarod and my mother was a kathak dancer from Lucknow. I have been listening to classical music since childhood.” Shantanu, born in Lucknow, spent his early years surrounded by musicians. The family subsequently moved to Delhi and settled in C.R. Park. Shantanu graduated from Delhi University in Economics. The whip was “job first, music later.”

But music continued to haunt him and he composed as a hobby. “My first jingle was Bole Mere Lips, I love Uncle Chips,” recalls Shantanu. It was followed by a musical album Aab ke Sawan in which he collaborated with Shubha Mudgal, which earned him acclaim. Pradeep Sarkar picked up Shantanu for his directorial debut Parineeta. The movie fetched him a nomination for the Filmfare Best Music Award and he won the Filmfare R.D. Burman Award for New Music Talent. The big break, says Shantanu, came with Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaroon Khwaishein Aisi. “Three big movies happened at the same time in 2005. I also worked with Gulzar in Shoojit Sircar’s Yahaan,” says Shantanu. The year 2006 saw another chartbuster — Lage Raho Munnabhai.

This year is almost an encore of 2005. There were two big soundtracks — Eklavya: The Royal Guard, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag —and the soon-to-be-released Khoya Khoya Chand. “I am back once again with lyricist Swanand Kirkire. And I am also working with my favourite director Sudhir Mishra,” says Shantanu.

The composer is working with Shyam Benegal in Mahadev, a dark comedy, and Raju Hirani's Idiot.