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The Story of an Indian Music Composer – Rajat Dholakia

The Story of an Indian Music Composer – Rajat Dholakia


My musical journey began when I was 12 years old. We had a team of 4-5 kids One of my teammates used to play accordion I used to sing and play percussion instruments and the guitar We use to conduct programs during Ganesh Chauturthi Then in my class, one of my classmates used to write poems and I used to compose them. I was too young I used to think about how we could present these poems visually Then another friend of mine made illustrations based on his interpretation of the poems We did a show where I sang the composed poem and my illustrator friend manually showed 40 paintings to go with the composition of the poem. This is how it all started I started to give background music in theatre. That is when I seriously became involved with media. After theatre I got a chance to compose a song for an animation film on family planning by Mr. Ram Mohan I had planned the complete song with the accompaniment of a variety of Indian musical instruments. But Mr. Ram Mohan asked me to keep it really simple and cute with minimal instruments, since an animation film had to be made on it At that time simple music was preferred for animation films. I used to watch the animation films that were shown before any feature film in the movie theatre I loved the music of those animation films Especially that of composers, Raghnath Seth and Vijay RaghavRao They have done a spectacular job considering Indian sensibilities Then I got a project from my friend, Nina Sabnani who was then a teacher at NID She was making a film at that time on crows The musicians at Ahmedabad didn’t play music by reading musical notations as opposed to here in Bombay, where thanks to the influence of Bollywood music, there were numerous trained musicians. In contrast, in Ahmedabad, I found only 4-5 musicians I had some experience working with amateur musicians So I watched the film and then used a metronome beat to write the whole score for the film that goes well with the movements of the crow The best part and specialty of animation films is that that when you are giving music to realistic visuals as seen in these films, the melodies and music need to be very well specified and pinpointed You have to enhance the character and also their movements In Disney films Even the instruments sync with the movement And this synchronization itself has melodies In realistic films, it’s a little different, only subtle enhancement of expressions through sound and music helps. In animation you can go beyond realism into the realm of surrealism. For eg, in animation if you want to show a man thinking, you can show a bulb and convey the idea. But this cannot be done is a realistic film And now the modern subjects are amazingly surrealistic in terms of images and stories. They have wonderful symbolism and their characterization is great After this I met with my friend Suresh Eriyat, who was also a student of NID He was involved in animation in a famous studio He started a new wave in film advertising He made a film called ‘Fisherwoman and TukTuk’ which received the national award for animation I had to compose Konkani music for this film There was a team in Thane(Mumbai). They asked me, “How many of us should come? We are 25 people. Should we all come?” I said that 25 would be too many I needed only 4-5 musicians a saxophone player, a trumpet player and a drum player We needed some authentic music from that area We then recorded that music The best part in that film is Chetan Sashital In animation design of the sound track is very important The film has around 60 characters and Chetan Sashital did the dubbing for all of them While doing the dubbing, he also sang a song Then Nina Sabnani made a film called, ‘Hum Chitra Banate Hain’ This film was based on the popular art form called Bhil The specialty of this art form is that each character is made using colorful dots The music for Bhil art involves prolonged notes There is just one instrument that keeps playing continuously for a long time and they sing folk songs to these melodies We took this idea We didn’t use those instruments We use normal keyboard samples to generate the music while retaining the simplicity of Bhil music but not using the authentic Bhil pieces However, at the end of the film when the original Bhil pictures are shown the authentic music starts we generated a music through keyboard samples There is software called ‘Swar plug’ and there are plug-ins available that provide exemplar pieces generated by the Sitar flute, tabla, etc. They are musical pieces from actual instruments which if played well, generate the right feel You may not be able to get the real musical experience but the simple notes are played well When the Bhil comes at the end the authentic folk music starts and that impact was very powerful Directed by: Prof. NIna Sabnani The Film received National Award in 2017 Now all the animated comedy sounds sounds are not being used in films any more Now the stress is placed on emotions through music Toing…tong is not used in modern films any more The music used now is more earthy and simple It is also used now days all over the world to create a surrealistic experience After that we did a film called ‘Tokri’ This film is about a father and a daughter and a family that is staying in the slums, like Dharavi which is very noisy The girl makes a basket (tokri) In that film I created a soundtrack of the girl singing while making the basket I wanted to use very minimal instruments We have used the Indian instrument of Violin It is a freckles instrument and we can get the slurs The instrument allows us to provide vocal expressions as well So the film has some humming a sound of the Tokri sounds of the Violin and those of the Banjo These 3 instruments have created the sound To create the realistic feel of Dharavi and its accompanying sounds we have used sounds such as the horns of the train the noise of moving traffic to create a cacophony of sounds. Giving music to animation films is a totally different ball game We have to understand the theme We have to believe in it to be able to do justice through music to the animator’s ideas The biggest thing in animation is the theme If we conceive the theme from the beginning the theme itself can create the images associated with it in our imagination For example, whatever story you have chosen the first thing is to think about the type of music that identifies with your character As you listen to the music the character unfolds and proceeds through the film’s timeline If you conceive the music in the beginning itself there is a lot of precision Suresh Eriyat made a film about Rotary The subject here was the lines of fortune on our hands The film was about how one hand can help the other If you want to support or save children one hand could be that of the kid kid and the other one could represent the country One hand can therefore support the other and thus save children To generate belief is this idea we got a few underprivileged kids from Dharavi (Mumbai) Why underprivileged kids? It is because they are honest and earnest earnest and their soul’s emotions pour out truthfully in the film Their teacher teaches them a song to instill hope in them The Rotary organization liked this so much that they are now sponsoring the education of these 50 kids up to college for free So this is the impact of the animation films India is slowly coming up with new ideas in the commercial animation industry computers and technology is already being used But the world of artistic animation is also picking up My only request to the government is to support these artists as it is a very expensive medium of expression A 12 minutes film takes almost 2 years to complete animating Music for an animation film is also very different It has to be done with a lot of belief and true conviction Thanks to Raghunath Sheth and Vijay Raghav Rao which gave certain idea of course Ram Mohan who have led the Indian animation industry that how this art can flourish

Comments (2)

  1. That's a super coverage of the Fabulously Gifted JHUKKU.

  2. This is Super! I met him at Pune design festival. He is a very simple yet amazing musician!

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