Sacred Games music director Alokananda Dasgupta answers a few burning questions about the show
Alokananda Dasgupta is scoring music for some of the biggest outings of the decade, including Sacred Games, and we caught up with the composer to learn more about her process
Alokananda Dasgupta is one of the few people who gets to experience the raw, unedited exchanges between Ganesh Gaitonde (Nazuddin Siddiqui) and his ‘teesra baap’ Guruji (Pankaj Tripathi), and the unadulterated version of all the drama this season of Sacred Games is serving up. But that’s because she’s so heavily responsible for setting the tone of the show with her background score - yes, the AR Rahman-approved music composer is designing the music for some of the most relevant outings of the decade, from Breathe to Leila, and can perhaps be credited for making every Aham Brahmasmi sound so very chilling. “This season the narrative of Sacred Games is darker and quieter, there are a lot of voiceovers. Guruji, for instance, talks quite a bit. There’s a quietness which needed to be acknowledged so I couldn’t have loud music playing as someone is saying something crucial. The ominous part of the show really needed to come out and had to be conveyed through the music,” Alokananda tells us.
The composer has scored three original tracks for the second season of the show, and also revealed why creating the background score for the new season came easier to her, than the first. “This time, we knew the zone we were in since Season 1 was already before us. I had more knowledge going into it. Having said that, the pressure was higher too. For season 1, I didn’t have as many expectations, I only knew it was a special project. I had no idea about the magnitude of the show, how much it would resonate with the sensibilities of the audiences,” Alokananda informs us. The composer also tells us that shaping up the tone for the character of the enigmatic cult leader, Guruji, made her a bit nervous. “I really got in tune with the edit, I had to watch the episodes over and over, to see how his character has been unravelled, to see how far the audiences would be led into the mystique,” says the York University graduate.
If you’ve been noticing a generous use of cello sounds in the background of Sacred Games, that was quite planned. Alokananda tells us she was hunting for a sound that would be low-key sinister. “I was on the lookout for something eerie and yet emotional, the cello fits that. We used some acoustic guitar, some low humming voices, kemenche, there was also upright bass that was used, we used some piano for the first time, as I felt we needed something emotionally-driven. The end of episode 6, especially was quite jarring for me, so I had to bring in something more emotive,” she says.
Alokananda, who’s the daughter of the acclaimed filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta, tells us that she acutely follows and admires the background scores by Satyajit Ray and Italian composer Ennio Morricone. The composer also reveals that she had to treat every episode of Sacred Games like a full-length feature film. “For my process, an episode has to be treated like a whole film. I believe the difference lies in the execution as you deal with a lot of people, lot of instrumentalists, and events, but on a smaller time frame,” adds the composer, who’s currently working on a Sudhir Mishra film.