Amit Trivedi on redefining Bollywood film music and composing the soundtrack for ‘Bombay Velvet’


Music composer Amit Trivedi’s score for Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D in 2009 set a new trend as far as Bollywood film music was concerned. The composer delivered an eclectic mix of numbers which incorporated varied genres of music ranging from brass-band sounds  of ‘Tauba Tera Jalwa’ to rock with ‘Nayan Tarse’, a first for any Hindi film.

Amit Trivedi: While I was making the music of ‘Dev D’ in 2007, I’d listen to the radio every night to understand what worked. My biggest fear was the difference between my compositions and the type of music people liked back then. There was absolutely no connection in the hit Bollywood scores and my music, which was when I decided to leave everything to God and see how it goes.

Trivedi’s gamble paid off and he bagged the National Film Award for Best Music Direction that year. The modern day Devdas’ narrative was strung together with tunes which were relevant for the times.

Amit Trivedi: I thought let me do a sound track or a score based on how someone with a broken heart would react today. He won’t obviously indulge in ‘Madira’ or ‘Pan’. There are other stronger substances available now. Keeping that in mind, I wanted to make the music trippier, edgier, more laid back and grungier, which comes from the story itself.

While Trivedi made everyone sit up and take notice with his tracks for ‘Dev D’, the film which marked his debut in Bollywood was Rajkumar Gupta’s ‘Aamir’ in 2008. Soon Trivedi was also roped in by Vikramaditya Motwane to compose the soundtrack for ‘Udaan’. The composer considers himself lucky to have started his career with films which had some of the best scripts and also gave him the opportunity to experiment.

Amit Trivedi: For someone who had just started his career, getting to read scripts like ‘Udaan’ and ‘Aamir’, was very overwhelming. We all know what works in Hindi films; the romantic ballads, item songs, dance numbers or disco numbers and these two films had none of these elements, that’s what excited me the most.

From the rock anthem ‘Dilli Dilli’ in ‘No One Killed Jessica’ to the kitschy burlesque dance number ‘Dreamum Wakeup’ in the movie ‘Aiyya’ or for that matter the playful love song ‘Pareshan’ from ‘Isahqzaade’, Trivedi’s versatility has been his biggest strength. The composer also does not shy away from using new genres like ‘dubstep’ in Bollywood film music.

Amit Trivedi: While working on ‘Ishaqzaade’ Habib Sir (Habib Fasial) wanted me to compose music for one of his promos that had a lot of pace in terms of the visuals. I had to create a tempo which would fit the parameters of that pace so I decided to break the composition down into half. Breaking the music down into two parts sparked the idea of including dubstep. When I pitched the idea of dubstep for the promo to both Habib Faisal and Aditya Chopra, they had no idea about that genre. I was insistent and instead of denying, they asked me to compose a song for the movie.

His songs for Vikramaditya Motwane’s period film ‘Lootera’ garnered him the bouquets as well as the brickbats. Allegedly the film’s theme music was uncannily similar to that of Hollywood film ‘One Day’. But that did not take away from the overall reception of his songs.

And we leave you with Trivedi’s thoughts on his upcoming project with director Anurag Kashyap, ‘Bombay Velvet’, yet again a period film for which he will be experimenting with Jazz music.

Amit Trivedi: The most exciting thing right now is ‘Bombay Velvet’, because for the first time probably I am trying to do Hindi jazz. The film is set in the fifties and the sixties and it is about life in Bombay in that era. At that time jazz was very active and there were a lot of jazz clubs. It was very exciting for me to jump into that territory, to do jazz from back then. It was a big challenge to bring that style of music to fit in the Bombay culture and environment while keeping things contemporary. The movie stars Ranbir and Anushka, so the music had to be able to speak a contemporary language.


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