In the year 2009, when the soundtrack of Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Dev D’ hit the music space, it took everyone by surprise. Consisting of eighteen tracks, it was refreshing to note how each song was distinctive from the other and was well-woven with the film’s narrative. The reason being that here was a soundtrack that reflected indie elements in its treatment which would readily lure the elitist, but ‘Dev D’ also connected with the common man. The music resonated with the youth, went up to win National honours and music composer Amit Trivedi happened.
Yet, when he was asked to headline the immensely popular music fest, the NH7 Weekender in Pune, music connoisseurs and editors of leading music magazines were quick to judge the move as an evidence of including a slice of Bollywood in order to make the festival appear mainstream.
So conveniently it was forgotten that he is the only musician in the current scenario who has blurred the lines between the commercial music industry and the independent music space. Ask any budding young musician today about their inspiration and pat will they point Trivedi out. He is possibly the only music composer since A.R Rahman who appeals to a broad swathe of music listeners while maintaining the integrity of his sound. He knows how to cater to listeners with different aesthetes. While he can make you thrash on an “Emotional Atyachaar”, he can make you dance to a “London Thumakda”. While rock enthusiasts can croon his “Kinare”, jazz lovers can sway to his “Bombay Velvet” soundtrack.
So why should he be compared to the likes of Rahman? Is it because we as an audience are not used to listening to someone who actually puts an effort behind generating good music? Or is it because we have been fed with music directors constantly doling ‘inspired’ work on us? Sounds rhetoric right? Whether his songs will be hummed a few years down the line or not, the fact remains that Trivedi will be very much viable to the next generation of listeners.
Not many are aware about his story. Who would’ve guessed that the music genius was born in a traditional Gujarati family whose only connect with music was devotional songs and Gujarati folk. Yet, Trivedi’s first inspiration was from Rahman’s music in Roja and Thiruda Thiruda. From listening to Rahman to being wrongly hailed as the poor man’s Rahman, Trivedi’s musical expedition has been an enriching experience as he would like to describe it. Did you know that the first ever music instrument he possessed was an electronic disk that he had borrowed from his neighbours? Though he has sought formal training in jazz and Indian classical music, he mostly taught himself. A few compositions for stage plays and for his own band ‘Om’ in college and Trivedi knew that music was his calling.
A couple of advertising jingles and music compositions for winners of Indian Idol kept Trivedi afloat, but he had no particular hope of pursuing filmdom as he felt that tinsel town was not prepared for his kind of music. But all he needed was an Anurag Kashyap who holds a reputation of going against the wind. Introduced by good friend and singer Shilpa Rao, Trivedi composed the entire soundtrack of ‘Dev D’ and was then recommended by Kashyap to Rajkumar Gupta. He then composed music for Gupta’s film ‘Aamir’ which saw an earlier release but that was a decent teaser of the talent that was coming our way in ‘Dev D’. The rest as they is history.
Amit Trivedi has found success and fame in tinsel town. But what he hasn’t shed is his humility and his love for challenges. He loves being pushed and prefers being offered the film’s storyline before he starts work on its soundtrack. For him, it’s not about merely belting a chartbuster, it’s about adding value to the movie’s theme. Case in this is ‘Iktara’ from ‘Wake Up Sid’. While he was composing the background score for the movie, director Ayan Mukherjee requested him to come up with a track that conveys the confusion felt by the protagonists about love. And Trivedi came with his priceless gem even though the music directors on board were the commercial trio, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. For the magical ‘Dhadaam Dhadaam’ in ‘Bombay Velvet’, he knew he had to draw something extraordinary from singer Neeti Mohan. So he asked her to recollect all the bad times that she’d been through for an hour and then asked her to do the recording. What we then got was a poignant and affecting rendition that proved to be the biggest highlight of the film.
So is this comparison with Rahman fair? Well, that’s a question, we’ll leave you to ponder on.