Music in his veins
Abhishek Ray tells RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN what makes a composer
Sense and substance Abhishek Ray in New Delhi
At 29, Abhishek Ray is confident without being arrogant, knowledgeable without being boastful and thoughtful without being haughty. He managed to convince poet-lyricist Gulzar to do Udas Paani, his debut album (2006) “without
a single change”, as he recalls. The album, a mix of poetry and music, was a hit despite the market being ravaged by remixes.
This Delhi-based music composer, vocalist and conservationist who has to his credit over 500 television serials apart from ads, travel shows and documentaries, has completed three films as a solo music director. Earlier he had scored the background music and one song (“Sun Re Kajri”) for Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Haasil. Dhulia has repeated him in his forthcoming film Shagird releasing shortly. “It has one song ‘Kaisi Talab’ sung by Kunal Ganjawala that encompasses the entire philosophy of this dark film, and the rest is background music as the film is score-driven,” he says. Shagird stars Nana Patekar as a corrupt cop and Mohit Ahlawat as his pupil.
His second film, Tum Se Milkar directed by K.S. Adhyanan, has seven songs penned by Gulzar and sung by Shreya Ghoshal, Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Hariharan, Udit Narayan and Abhishek himself. Starring Parvin Dabas and Reshmi Ghosh, “it’s a soft romantic love story”. And in his third film, Jagmohan Mundra’s Shoot On Sight, on terrorism, which stars Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri, Abhishek has composed the title track of the film. “Mundra had heard my Incredible India track which has a lot of South Indian musical instruments and alaps, apart form the track of the Symphony of Taj which has Arabic sounds and an azaan recited by me. Both became very famous abroad. So, he asked me to compose a sort of mix of both which he thought a foreigner wouldn’t be able to do.”
The significant point is that he has both composed and arranged the songs.
He shares, “Usually music directors make the tunes and leave it to the arrangers to decorate them. So, what you hear as a total product is actually an arranger’s hard work. For me, it’s like making an art work and leaving the choice of colours to others. There is hardly any music director except A.R. Rahman who arranges his music. Before taking up these films, I told the directors that I would compose and arrange the songs myself.”
For Abhishek music and academics ran parallel. He started composing music from his school days.
His mother holds a Sangeet Visharad degree and his father used to play the violin.
“I trained in classical and Western music. I started composing jingles for television in class XI. By the time I completed my post graduation (MCA), I was earning equal to a computer engineer,” recalls Abhishek who also made a name with hit serials Rub-a-Ru and Zayke Ka Safar as well as Dominos’ “Hungry Kya” campaign.
Despite getting “a lot of flak from relatives in Kolkata for taking music as a career,” he went ahead. “I didn’t want the cushion of a job and taking music as a hobby,” shares Abhishek who says his music is a result of “extensive travelling into nature”.
Abhishek has a studio in South Delhi. “I constructed it slowly with the money I got through my jingles,” he smiles with pride.
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