Interview Hindi

Exclusive: Composing the music for Scam 1992 was challenging and rewarding, says Achint Thakkar

The young composer speaks about how he created the signature tune for the web-series, which has caught the fancy of viewers.

Achint Thakkar, photographed by Janak Shah

Keyur Seta

Hansal Mehta’s web-series Scam 1992 has been trending ever since it was released on the SonyLIV platform last month. Along with the storytelling and the performances of the likes of Pratik Gandhi and Shreya Dhanwanthary, a major reason for the popularity of the web-series is the opening theme music, which has caught the fancy of netizens. Ringtones of the music are being downloaded in the thousands on the internet and people are coming up with their cover versions as well.

The tune is music composer Achint Thakkar’s baby, along with the background score in the web-series. tracked him down and Thakkar was happy to speak about the music of Scam 1992, its popularity and what he kept in mind while creating the opening tune. Excerpts:

How does it feel to see the title tune get appreciated a lot? Were you expecting it?

It feels very good. Firstly, I feel good to see how the show is being liked so much. Music is always just a part of the show. So more than the music, I am happy to know the response to the show. If the show is doing well, then I am doing well.

We all liked the tune, but we didn’t have such expectations [of popularity]. We, honestly, didn’t expect the show to be liked this much. All of us are overwhelmed right now. Right from Hansal sir to all the technicians, we didn’t know we would get so much appreciation. Maybe because such a web-series had never been made before. 

You have composed the music for a few series before, but clearly this work has brought you the maximum fame.

It has been my most notable work so far. Before this also I was working and had collaborated with Mikey McCleary on Four More Shots Please! (2019) which also got a good response. But this was my first solo [work] as a music composer. It was quite challenging and also very rewarding in many ways. So, I am very fortunate to have had this opportunity.

How did you get associated with this project?

I have been a friend of Jai [Mehta, co-director of Scam 1992 and Hansal Mehta’s son] since college. We were supposed to work on other projects before this, but they didn’t happen. Later, he told me about Scam 1992 when they were prepping for it and asked me to try out. I think they were trying out some other composers also. He asked me to make something and pitch it to Hansal sir, Applause [Entertainment] and everybody.

So, you pitched the opening credits track?

Yes. Earlier, I had made something else. Jai asked me to try a better one. So, I made this. They liked it but asked me to do some variations and see if it can be made better. I tried another version, but we were coming back to the first one only. This tune got stuck in everybody’s minds.

The show wasn’t shot when you prepared the tune. So, what did you keep in mind while making the tune, especially the change of tempo from low pitch to high pitch?

Jai told me there has to be a Harshad Mehta-like feel to it. I researched and saw Harshad Mehta’s old videos and read his Wikipedia page, just to see what kind of person he was. I realized that basically he was an outsider. He was not old money. He had to make his way like a creeper. If you don’t control the creeper, it can even break a wall. And he [Harshad Mehta] broke the wall. 

Pratik Gandhi and Hemant Kher as Harshad and Ashwin Mehta

That tune is like a creeper. I felt this would suit it. Harshad also had to make his way like a creeper. And it has a 1990s hip-hop vibe to it which also has his swag, attitude and confidence. Without self-confidence, a man can’t do such a thing. One should have the courage. Talent is one thing and courage is another. I had to reflect this also in the music.

The background score of the show is also very effective. What was the brief given to you for this by Hansal Mehta?

Firstly, when our post-production started, the whole world had gone into the lockdown. It was very complicated to work because we were always on Zoom or something like that. He told me to just keep Harshad alive in mind and what all was going on [around him]. So, I was just following the story, basically how the story was going forward and these things were happening.

There are certain points where the music also changes when we see a different side to Harshad. The character gradually becomes grey. From being ambitious, he gradually becomes arrogant. Half-way through [the series] you start realizing he is not totally good. That is the magic of Hansal sir, Pratik Gandhi and Jai. Even when he is bad, you are on his side. They create an empathy for him by making him human.

Achint Thakkar. Photograph: Ankit Gupta

How do you react when you see so many cover versions and memes being made out of the Scam 1992 theme?

I am absolutely over the moon because that’s the magic and beauty of the internet and the times we live in. Something can become derivative and it becomes the remix of a remix of a remix. Right now it’s everyone’s theme, not just Scam [1992]’s. It has become bigger than us. Everyone is coming up with such funny stuff that I enjoy watching it.

Have you started receiving offers after your work in Scam 1992?

Yes, they are, but I had been working on Scam [1992] for eight months and I had been working alone. There were a lot of difficulties in the lockdown. So right now I might take my time to decide. A web-series is quite a long commitment.

What else do you have in the pipeline?

We will soon be releasing the soundtrack of Scam 1992. I don’t think this has happened before for a web-series. The background score of the series will be released in album form across music platforms. Right now I am just selecting tracks from the show.

Please tell us something about your education.

I was in the commerce stream in Mithibai College [in Mumbai] till the 12th. Then I was in Whistling Woods [the Subhash Ghai-run film institute in Mumbai] for six months. I then went to the US for one year. I did music for ads and short films. Then I started working on web-series. Meanwhile, I released my own music with Times Music and my own label Achint & The Khan Brothers, whose song was recently used in Taish (2020).

When did you realize that you should make a career in music?

I actually used to play instruments in our college band. When I finished college, I had a lot of interest in music and films. My friends also had the same interest. One was Jai. Two other friends from our group are also working in films currently. So I have grown up around creative people.

During my school days, I learnt music just by observing people. In college, if you are a member of the orchestra you get to bunk lectures. So, I became a jugaadu [makeshift] guitarist. I didn’t know how to play, but I learnt by observing. If you want so badly to bunk classes, you can do anything. I just didn’t want to be in class (laughs).

I had gone to a music school in the US but you learn the most while being with friends. I have been working with [music composer] Mikey McCleary for the past two or three years and I have learnt so much just by working with him.

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