The Namesake: a flag of desi creative power
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The Namesake: a flag of desi creative power

Mira Nair has chosen Nitin Sawhney to compose the music for her new film.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2007 13:24 IST
Arun Kumar

Indian American director Mira Nair chose Nitin Sawhney, another person of Indian origin, to compose the music for her new film The Namesake to make it "a flag of desi creative power."

"If I am blessed, a melody will capture me in the early days of the film's conception, and stay with me throughout the growth of the film," said Academy Award-nominated director on how she chose Sawhney, considered one of Britain's most original and gifted music creators.

"In the case of The Namesake, it was Nitin Sawhney's and Jayanta Bose's 'Boatman's Song'.The lyrics and the rhythm captured the elegant soulfulness of traditional Bhatiali songs, and Nitin's elegant scoring made it modern.

"I had loved Nitin's concert music, and it was to him I turned for the score, keen to make The Namesake a flag of desi creative power." she said as Rounder Records announced that its soundtrack would be released Mar 6. The film itself will hit select US theatres Mar 9.

"Once we identified the theme of the film during one of his casual strummings - the haunting melody of First Day in New York - the rest of the score tumbled out of him, forging an ancient-modern tapestry that beautifully cradled the span of thirty years in the Ganguli family."

"Since the film moved fluidly between New York City and Calcutta, so could the music: It moved in a freewheeling way between Geeta Dutt's Bengali Gaan from the '60s to Susheela Raman's contemporary take on Mukesh's popular ' 70s love song, Ye Mera Diwanapan Hai to today's rap of The Chosen One to the heat and sway of Postales."

"This is the privilege of cinema: to bring together the sounds, voices, instruments of that which you love and make it one with image" Nair said.

"The Namesake, as a screenplay adaptation, was all about mood, emotion and spirit, providing ample sustenance for any composer," said Sawhney of his work on The Namesake soundtrack.

"Mira's tight and sensitive direction allowed me to find a voice in the music that spanned time, generations and countries through the epic journey of a struggling Bengali family."

"The score is subsequently both intimate and haunting, reflecting the sense of empathy, inner beauty and nostalgia evoked by the story. The whole experience was an inspiration on so many levels, " he said.

Over the last decade Sawhney has carved out a singular niche in British culture melding the musical barriers between East and West, between classical and popular, juxtaposing music from around the world with club-land-culture.

Several other Desis also have a role to play in the film based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri. Its screen adaptation was penned by Sooni Taraporevala. Nair has previously collaborated with her on Mississippi Masala" and the Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay!

Stars include Kal Penn, Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Jacinda Barrett, Zuleikha Robinson, Brooke Smith, Sahira Nair And Glenne Headley.

The Namesake, a Fox Searchlight Pictures film, is the story of the Ganguli family whose move from Calcutta to New York evokes a lifelong balancing act to meld to a new world without forgetting the old.

Though parents Ashoke and Ashima (Irrfan Khan, Tabu) long for the family and culture that enveloped them in India, they take great pride in the opportunities their sacrifices have afforded their children.

Paradoxically, their son Gogol (Kal Penn) is torn between finding his own unique identity without losing his heritage. Even Gogol's name represents the family's journey into the unknown.

First Published: Feb 22, 2007 20:04 IST