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Interview Bengali

Happy I have been able to bridge rock and commercial music in Bengali films: Composer Savvy Gupta

In a candid chat with us, Gupta shares some significant moments of his journey so far and discusses the music of his upcoming release Hoichoi Unlimited.

Roushni Sarkar

One of the busiest music directors of Bengali cinema, Savvy Gupta began his journey in 2012 with Khokababu. In the past seven years, he has worked with almost all the directors of Bengali film industry and is being appreciated for his varied style of music.

A keyboard player and primarily a follower of urban rock music, Gupta has already composed music for prominent films such as Noor Jahaan, Inspector Notty K, Ghare And Baire, Chaalbaaz, Happy Pill and Sultan: The Saviour this year. He has also penned lyrics for films such as Mahapurush O Kalpurush (2013) and Rangbaaz (2013) and has lent his voice for numerous film songs, including that of Ghare And Baire, Rangbaaz, Bibaho Diaries (2017), Samrat: The King Is Here (2016), Aashiqui: True Love (2015) and many more.

In a candid chat with Cinestaan.com, Gupta shares some significant moments of his journey so far and discusses the music of his upcoming release Hoichoi Unlimited.

How does it feel to be one of most sought after music directors of this generation?

I started working as a music director from 2011. Initially, I used to compose two or three songs for each film, now I am scoring for most of the films that are being made in this industry. It feels really good and exciting that I am doing what I dreamt of and I also want to do better.

When did you decide to become a music director?  Did you have interest in music since your childhood?

I was quite interested in sports in my childhood. I used to play cricket and dreamt of becoming a sportsperson. At the same time, like in most Bengali households, there was a culture of music in my family as well. My sister used to learn music and there was a musical environment. But I never really thought that I will have a career in music.

First, I got inspired by AR Rahman when Roja released in 1992 and I started learning keyboard when I was in in class 10, in school. My interest in music continued to grow and I started working with a lot of bands, one of them is Insomnia, with which I played the most and I am still a part of it. Then I started assisting Neel Dutt, Indradeep Dasgupta and Debajyoti Mishra and also made tracks for them. Gradually, I got offers to compose jingles and then film songs.

How did you get your first break?

It was quite accidental. I was presenting my works to various producers and directors, the way a strugglers does. I also made Himanshu Dhanuka from Eskay Movies listen to my work. Then I got a call from their office to compose the promotional track for Khokababu (2011). They liked my composition and it was Dev’s [Adhikari, actor-producer] plan to sing the song. We were actually experimenting at that point of time and luckily Dev’s voice gelled well with the track. It became a huge hit after the release. After Khokababu I started getting more offers.

Since you have been working in various kinds of films, you have also been exploring varied genres as well.

I have seen that there is a tendency in Kolkata to confine the music directors in a particular genre. Some are only known for composing urban music while the others are known for commercial tracks. Like every musician wishes, I also wanted to bridge the genres and explore different fields. It was difficult initially and I was mostly doing commercial dance tracks.

Then I got introduced to Mainak da [Bhaumik] with whom I could work with urban rock music, which was actually my forte. As a struggler, I used to compose urban tracks mostly but most of the producers rejected them thinking that they sounded like band music or rock music. However, the situation has now changed a lot. There is a lot more acceptance these days. I am able to do alternative rock music as well as commercial music. I am happy that I have been able to create that bridge and fulfil my wishes.

You have also composed semi classical songs such 'Saiyyan Beimaan' for Nabab (2017).

Right! These days, directors and producers are ready to support experiments and I am fortunate that could break away with the conventional style of commercial songs. One either fails or succeeds while doing experiments and in that case, support from the producers and directors become important. The more they will extend support the more the music will flourish.

How was the experience of working with pure classical singer Ustad Raza Ali Khan for 'Saiyyan Beimaan'? Will you again work with him?

Well, of course! He is a great singer and is extremely friendly. He liked my composition of 'Saiyyan Beimaan'. He did not throw any tantrums and sang the way we wanted. He also gave his inputs and it was lovely recording with him. I really hope to work with him in future for these kinds of compositions.

Who are your favourites among the present generation singers?

It is hard to pick one because there are so many. I like Timir Biswas and his style of singing. I also like Raj Burman; he first sang my composition in Noor Jaahan. He is getting a lot of offers these days.

These days there is a tendency towards releasing singles. Are you planning to launch one?

Actually, this is not a tendency. If you delve in a bit you will realise that non-film music was quite strong in the past. Now nobody buys CDs and hence, a void has been created. Every musician wishes to do independent work outside films and I am no exception. Basically, the trend has started due to the urge for doing independent works and it is bearing a better result if one releases a single song with a video. Yes, I might do something of that sort, once I get the opportunity.

Do you wish to work outside Bengali cinema?

Of course, I want to but at the same time it is not like I have to do it. If I get good offer, I will do it for sure.

You have worked with so many directors. Who do you find to be the most musical?

I think all of them are musical in their own ways. Music preference is a relative aspect; it depends on what kind of music one listens to and a lot of other things. What I like is that I have been able to work with directors with such varied preferences. For example, Mainak Da listens to a lot of western music and has a taste similar to mine. On the other hand, Joydeep da [Mukerjee] likes songs of RD Burman. I love to explore all these different fields.

Who are currently your favourite music directors in Bengal?

I will have to take Jeet da’s [Jeet Gannguli] name in this regard. Jeet da started working during a time when nobody used to listen to Bengali film music. He has an immense contribution in Bengali film music and is one of my favourites. I also like Neel da, Indradeep da, Arindam da. There is a lot to learn from all of them.

What are your upcoming projects?

My next release is Hoichoi Unlimited. I am also working in Raj Chakraborty’s Prem Amar 2. Another project of mine will be Surinder Film’s Googly.

Tell us about the music of Hoichoi Unlimited?

I have previously worked with Aniket Chattopadhyay in many films and my career began with Dev. Last time I worked with him was four years back on Yoddha (2014). Dev sa is extremely particular about music and he likes new sounds, arrangements and interesting stuff. We have done many sessions; some songs were rejected and some have been approved. It has been an interesting journey so far.

 All the four tracks are quite different from each other. I have composed punk rock song for the first time in Bengali cinema. They are situational songs yet carry the commercial flavour, like the songs from Paglu (2011); at the same time with the elements of the modern sound and EDM. For example, 'Sujan Majhi Re', is a popular Bhaityali song.

While we were discussing, we came up with the phrase that syncs with that particular situation. So I only took the phrase and then created an original composition out of it and Raja Chanda wrote the lyrics. The song is now trending nationally and I hope the audience will love the music.