Comedy meets tragedy in Bickram Ghosh’s latest Bollywood soundtrack
After 20 years with his band Rhythmscape and around 150 albums, tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh is still brimming with new ideas, as is evident in his next music composing venture in Bollywood. Titled Khajoor Pe Atke (KPA), it’s a drama comedy directed by Harsh Chhaya that releases today, and is Ghosh’s 30th movie project overall. He has used a wide range of instruments and music styles in this soundtrack, and interestingly has also assigned sounds from different instruments for each of the characters. So Vinay Pathak’s theme is a whistle, Manoj Pahwa’s is a trombone and Dolly Ahluwalia gets an ektara, he tell us. “I re-invent myself everyday. I’m excitable like a child. A new instrument or a talented artiste never fails to trigger my creativity. Essentially it boils down to loving what you do. It’s this passion that keeps me relevant I guess. And hard work, of course!,” he says.
The 51-year-old musician, who hails from Kolkata and is married to actress Jaya Seal (of Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii fame), says, “Comedy is a completely new genre for me. Though Little Zizou (2008) was a comedy as well, KPA is more of a laugh riot, so my approach towards this movie was different.” Director Harsh, who is also known for his role as Vinay Khosla in the 2008 Priyanka Chopra-starrer Fashion, has also written lyrics and sung in this movie. Ghosh says, “Harsh has done a brilliant job in the movie, starting with a superbly crafted script. It is a hilarious comic caper, the kind that Hrishikesh Mukherjee used to make. It’s very intelligent. I think people will laugh throughout the film and identify with the characters and situations.”
Decoding the music of the movie, Ghosh says he deliberately went over-the-top with the sadness quotient in the songs, to make them sound funny instead of dreary. “I had to strike a balance between tragic and comic. Also, the film revolves around small-town characters, so the Indian-ness had to come forth. Hence, I attempted to bring in some folk elements, and not incorporate programmed sounds into the music. The versatility and modulation in acoustic tracks are incomparable,” he says, adding that the instrumentation in the songs and the background score are homogenous. For example, in Dhoka (sung by Harsh), Ghosh has used instruments like sarangi, harmonium, udukka (mini talking drum), daf and “a sitar with an extra twang”.
“Let’s also take Ao Na Dekha for example,” he says. “The peppy song sung by Timir Biswas (who has a raspy folk voice) and Ujjaini Mukherjee (who has a suave urban voice) is kind of small-town meets big city in the choice of voices. Then there is the instrumentation — harmonium, tabla, dholak, sarangi, mandolin and my own array of world percussions including udu, darboukka, talking drum and frame drums.” There’s also an item number, Sumdi Me Jhol, sung by Kalpana Patowary. “It starts with a whisper — gup chup kone me bajta hai dhol — with a gradually developing dholak groove. The sarangi plays an important part here and there’s a shehnai too, in the mix,” he shares.
Bickram Ghosh has a slew of projects lined up in the pipeline:
• Composing for and acting as an Afghan percussionist in Girishji Malik’s next movie starring Chitrangada Singh, Band of Maharajas
• A music project with Sonu Nigam and American saxophonist George Brooks
• Another project with María del Mar Fernández, who sang the hit flamenco song, Senorita, in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
• A collaboration with Hariharan and Ustad Rashid Khan
• And a new album by Rhythmscape
Khajoor Pe Atke releases on May 18.