Interview: National Award-Winning Composer Mayookh Bhaumik – Making Magic with Music
By Shoma A. Chatterji
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Calcutta, June 20, 2012 (Databazaar Media Ventures) Mayookh Bhaumik looks as if he is fresh out of college. But looks are deceptive and the National Award for the Best Background Score he has received this year is the biggest example. The prize is for his score for Kaushik Ganguly’s film Laptop. Incidentally, Laptop is now accessible by Bengali NRIs settled across North America and Canada because Databazaar Media, the biggest entertainment distribution company within the Bengali film world abroad, has acquired the rights of distribution, screening, streaming and telecasting Laptop across these two countries. Over to Mayookh.
What brief did Kaushik give you when you were signed on for Laptop?
He told me that the film consisted of four different stories with different characters, interactions and resolutions. The only connecting link between and among the four stories was a laptop – the same laptop that gets into their lives and changes these lives in different ways. So, he said I had to create a theme and when I created it where music would spell out the bonding with the laptop and called it the laptop theme.
The film has other music themes too doesn’t it?
Yes, it does. I created a mountain theme for the segment shot in the hills which m erges into the laptop theme later on. Basically, I must say that all this was possible because I had great musicians working with me. I had Kinan Azmeh who played the clarinet and is from Damascus. Tapas Roy accompanied us on his string and pluck instruments while I had the most talented and young vocalist Ishita Chakraborty who trained under Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and Arti Anklekar. She has sung and Armenian Gospel piece which is a variation on the laptop theme. The film does not have any lip-synched songs but a promotional song composed and sung by Anupam Roy.
How do you look back on your compositions for the film apart from the fact that it fetched you the country’s topmost award?
This has been one of the most organic and integrated musical score experiences in my entire career. The fact that the film has been cinematographed by Shirsa Ray and edited by my brother Moinak has been other value-added elements to my compositions. “Organic” here means falling absolutely in place – I as music director know precisely where the music is going, how it is going, how it will end and most importantly, how NOT to use music. The shots, the cuts and the music have worked like five fingers of a hand where a person needs all to function creatively and effectively.
What according to you, is the USP of Laptop’s music?
Kaushik-da is a wonderful person to work with who allows you complete freedom to do what you want, how you want and so I could experiment within the framework he had set out which was just a skeleton of a brief. The idea that the film would have no songs except a single track in the background was another challenge. I had to work mainly with two theme tracks. The fun lay in the script that had four different stories. I had to bind them together with my theme tracks.
What other films have you scored the music for?
My first film assignment was for the Hindi film Eeshwar Mime Company directed by the late Shyamanand Jalan when I was only 23. I did the music for Suman Mukherjee’s Herbert which won the National Award, Suman Ghosh’s Podokkhep that bagged two National Awards and for Aamra directed by my brother Moinak.
What is the citation that the National Award carries in your case?
The Rajat Kamal is “For his original style in narrating the flow of events centered on a laptop; he brings in a new dimension with his unconventional musical renderings, using both live and electronic instruments to counterpoint the urban tragedies that accompany this peripatetic laptop. The music brings in a narrative element that resonates with contemporary problems in Kolkata, a city weighed down by its contradictions.”