OnRecord: The Amit Trivedi Interview
Shruti Goyal · May 30, 2018 · 6 Minute Read
You’ve had quite an interesting journey when it comes to music. Live shows, theatre, TV shows, ads, movies — you’ve done it all. What do you feel when you look back on this journey? What memories or experiences do you cherish the most?
It’s been a very, very exciting journey! I love the fact that I’m doing music and that’s what makes me the most happiest. Anything to do with music, whether it’s live shows or composing for ads or songs or background scores — as long as I’m doing music, I breathe. Music is what matters to me at the end of the day.
Technically, your debut album was ‘Aamir’. But let’s talk about your real ticket to fame in the Bollywood music industry, Dev D — 18 tracks of different genres, including Punjabi, jazz, folk, sufi, rock and many more — and of course, the coveted National Award for Best Music Direction. Tell us what Dev D means to you. What role did this play in your musical journey?
It changed my life completely! I never wanted to be a music director in Bollywood films. That was never my aim. Making music for feature films was something I thought I wasn’t capable of doing. I always wanted to do music but what in music, I was still figuring out. But when I got Dev D and understood how big it became, I realized the potential of what cinema can do.
Cinema is a very powerful medium, because in India, music is distributed through Bollywood. If I had created this music independently, it might not have reached so many people. But films are powerful because you have all these different elements — actor, actress, director, cinema, story, so it did help that way. Since Dev D, I’ve been doing just films. Actually, I’ve been waiting for another opportunity like Coke Studio to jump into the independent scene once again, I would forget everything and dive in!
You’ve been in this industry for a long time. The soundscape has obviously changed quite a bit, as well as the way in which the Bollywood music industry functions. Drawing on your own experiences of working on so many films, what’s your take on this shift?
I have been fortunate enough to have gotten the opportunity to work with brilliant filmmakers like Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap, Rajkumar Gupta and so on. These are the kind of filmmakers that even back then, saw films and cinema from a whole new perspective, giving musicians like us a different role to play in the process of creating cinema. So the way that these directors led this shift was not going for art nor masala mainstream, they chose a midway path that opened up a whole new dimension to how music complements cinema. And this has opened the gates for a lot of people in this industry. It’s like an open playground right now!
You’ve given Bollywood some chart-busting hits, my personal favourite being ‘Gal Mitthi Mitthi Bol’. In retrospect, which song or album do you consider to be your most creative work? Any personal favorites which you listen to and just feel proud of the music you’ve created?
Each and every piece of music that I create, I’m absolutely proud of it. Whether it works or it doesn’t, whether it is a hit or a flop — I love each and every bar of the music that I create. I create it with a lot of heart and passion, and there’s not one single song that I can pick out which I’m not proud of.
You seem like a person who is very invested in the process of creating music.
Absolutely! That’s what keeps me going. That’s what keeps me alive, that’s my oxygen. The process is so beautiful, it’s like a blessing.
Talk to us about your creative process. What inspires your music? What influences have shaped the way you create music?
When I’m making music for films, it’s always about the script. I ask myself, which world is this film getting me into? So it always starts with understanding the script and doing justice to the genre of the film and where it is based. For instance, Bombay Velvet was all about jazz, early 50’s or 60’s jazz.
So it all comes from the script and staying glued to the vision of that, that’s where my inspiration majorly comes from. And if you look at Dev D, which was a contemporary take on Devdas, I had to put a new age spin on this character that everybody is familiar with, which was a challenge but also inspiration — so I made the music more trippy. Overall, it’s a very director and script-driven process.
You’ve been making music for almost two decades now. How would you say your music has evolved over the years?
It is still evolving! I’m still learning and it’s a continuous process, it’s like a deep ocean that never ends! And I feel like a beginner most of the time. There are situations when I literally don’t know how to handle things and I go, “Yeh kaise karte hai?” So that evolutionary process is constant, and even I don’t know where I am today, right now. Technically, of course, a lot has changed, I’ve learnt over the years how to deal with technology and the production side of music. So yes, that aspect has grown stronger. But my music, I want it to keep evolving and keep becoming better with time.
Let’s talk about your latest upcoming soundtrack — ‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’, an action flick starring Harshvardhan Kapoor. Talk us through the songs of this album. How was your experience working on this soundtrack? What can listeners expect from you this time?
So while the album has just four songs, this movie has got a terrific background score! The maximum time that I’ve spent working on this movie was for the score and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s always a pleasure to work alongside Vikram, because he’s a very nuanced director, he’s very specific with the kind of films that he makes and the music that he wants for his films. So if you’ve seen Udaan or Lootera, his style of film making is very detailed. Similarly with Bhavesh Joshi, he was very particular with scoring and music and that’s the biggest challenge working with him. Songs happen quickly, it’s the score that takes a lot of time and effort.
Having said that, this album has four songs, out of which one is ‘Hum Hain Insaaf’ which is a fun song, but about justice. Two guys, on the road, trying to change things and they want justice. It has Babu Haabi & Naezy rapping. It was written by Anurag Kashyap, Naezy, Babu and little bit by me also — So we all got together and jammed on this and ‘Hum Hain Insaaf’ was born.
There’s a promotional video that has also been released for the track ‘Chavanprash,’ but the actual song is a very integral part of the movie because it comes at a very pivotal point within the whole journey of Bhavesh. This song is a part of the narrative itself and it’s been brought to life by Vikram in a very refreshing way. Finally, there are two songs which are my favorites, ‘Tafreeh‘ and ‘Qasam Kha Li.’ It’s for people with acquired taste, it’s not your typical mainstream massy music — its got a very poetic beautiful vibe which i personally love and enjoy doing. These last two songs, they are pure heart. And the other two songs are absolute fun, so it’s a good mix of both.
We have been talking to Amit Trivedi, the musician. Now, we want to talk to Amit Trivedi, the person. What drives you as a person? What are your biggest fears? And finally, what makes you happy?
What makes me happy? This answer will be a little boring, because for me everything revolves around music. I’m a very simple person and I don’t party much, mainly because I don’t get time! I would love to party, but 90% of my life is consumed by Bollywood and the 10% I get away from that, I have to bathe, spend time with my son and wife and family, and sleep of course! When I’m spending a beautiful evening with friends or family and there’s some good music playing — for me, then I love that vataavaran! Music is happiness for me.
Can’t get enough of this incredible Bollywood composer? Listen to the latest Amit Trivedi songs now on Saavn.