Interview : Shantanu Moitra

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Music director Shantanu Moitra of PARINEETA fame has for the first time scored the music for a Bengali film, ANTAHEEN. In conversation with the innovative musician.

Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s second directorial feature ANTAHEEN marks the return of Aparna Sen to acting after a long hiatus and also features Sharmila Tagore. It also sees music director Shantanu Moitra making his Bengali debut. It has created quite a buzz in the music world of Kolkata. After all, Moitra’s Bollywood assignments include films like PARINEETA, LAGE RAHO MUNNABHAI, EKALAVYA and KHOYA KHOYA CHAND.

Excerpts of an interview:

Why a Bengali film after such a long time?
The question should have been the other way round. Why not a Bengali film much earlier than now? I was brought up in a deeply rooted Bengali ambience in Delhi, so scoring music for my first Bangla film so late is not a matter of pride for me. I was afraid of many things right through the making of this film. I knew nothing about the pressures, the levels of expectation, and the kind of music demanded in Bengali cinema. I was not confident about scoring for a Bengali film. But looking back, it has been a dream debut.

You have worked with some of the best in Bollywood. Why then do you call this a dream debut?
In many ways, I could not have asked for a better film to make my debut where you have a galaxy of stars both on and off camera. I have been honoured with celluloid space I shared with my childhood divas Sharmila Tagore and Aparna Sen, my favourite actor Rahul Bose, renowned cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay and editor Arghyakamal Mitra. Biswadeep Chaterjee is the finest recording engineer I have known in my entire career.

How was scoring music for a Bengali film different from the same for a Hindi film?

The Mumbai scenario is different. Creating and composing music there is a very lonely thing. Even duets are recorded separately with each singer pitching in according to his/her own time and space. For the first time, I was involved with the entire unit while composing the music. The director, the lyricists Chandril and Anindo of the Bangla Band Chandrabindoo, the cinematographer and the editor were present all the time. This was a unique experience for me. HMV, now Sa Re Ga Ma, carries a deep sense of nostalgia. With everyone present, recording was ?live’ when changes were possible instantly. Besides, I didn’t feel the pressures of creating at any point. It was a team effort.

Would you call it an enriching experience?
Yes, I would. Aniruddha wanted everything to be subtle, understated and low-key; so I had to keep myself in control while composing. It’s too easy to let go, to go overboard but the visuals Tony (Aniruddha) showed me, the discussions we had over the last year, I learnt how to rein in one’s creativity. The music had to be good. Whether the songs would hit the jackpot or not, is immaterial.

What about the songs?
The film has six songs and a music track spilling over with poetry. It was Tony’s brainwave to combine the lyrics of Chandril and Anindo with my music. Shaan, Babul Supriyo, Shreya Ghoshal, Sreekanto Acharya, Antara Choudhury and Chandrabindoo have sung the songs. I am convinced that all the six tracks, especially Shaan’s title song, will be big hits with music buffs.

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