After grabbing the limelight in 2010 with Autograph, singer-composer-lyricist Anupam Roy has gone on to carve an enviable career. The versatile artiste reflects on India's music industry in a discussion with Titas Chowdhury
You shot to fame with Autograph in 2010. From then to now, how will you describe your journey?
It has been a journey of almost nine years and it is very difficult to put this experience into words. I have been lucky and blessed!
You have also started composing singles that are being produced by SVF Music. How did the decision to do something different come about?
I have been doing albums for the last nine years and making a single is not new to me. Like other artistes, I always wanted to have my own album. But things here are not very smooth. Film music takes precedence over other kinds of music.
Things changed for me after Autograph. I would have come up with my albums anyway, but I don't think they would have been equally popular. Autograph has given me a lot. The songs in the movie and the way they were picturised became popular because they were a part of a huge film. I have always been into making albums; I have been doing my own stuff. I write a lot of songs and when I feel like they are not in sync with films or not in line with the theme, I release them as singles or albums.
What kind of response have you been receiving for your singles so far?
The response has been very encouraging. We are generally very scared to do Bangla singles and albums. I made an album called Bakyobageesh in 2014 which released along with a song I had composed for Chotushkone. The song from Chotushkone became so popular that my album did not reach a lot of people. It was very unfair! I have decided, the next time I make an album, I will release it at a time when none of my film albums will be around or else it too will face the same fate!
But things look brighter now. People are restless and want to listen to something different. That is paving the way for a new genre of music that does not necessarily fit into film narratives. My single Kalboishakhi worked moderately well. We have performed the song live several times. Next came a dance number, Mithye Kotha. No one expected a dance number from me. That song really clicked and the audience started requesting the song at live shows.
I had the chance of experimenting with alternative rock, and that is how we created Ish Debashish. The song deals with battling mid-life crisis. There is no movie in Bengal that deals with a subject like that or that has the space for a song like this. Thus, it found a place in my solo project. It also did quite well, not as much as Mitthe Kotha which is more mainstream in its appeal. But we have been performing the song at our concerts.
Many singers believe that composing non-film music is more liberating than film music. What do you think?
That holds true for many artistes. For me, that is partially true. I don't exactly compose for films. I write songs on my own. And, if a script or a film comes to me, I usually play the existing songs from my bank. The makers listen to them and take their pick. It is not that a film dictates my song-writing. The makers select my songs for their films. So, the process is different for me and I think it is very liberating.
If at all I have to make songs for films, then I am restricted by the characters, the storyline and the situation. If I have Soumitra Chatterjee and Sabitri Chatterjee on screen, I will not have a loud song; I would have a mellow number or maybe just a soft cello or piano playing in the background as a prelude to my song. In a way, it is liberating when I am writing and composing songs for films as well. When it comes to albums, it is completely liberating. In albums, I can use any instrument and there is no restriction on their duration.
You have worked in both the Bangla and Hindi music industries. Do you sense any differences?
Yes, there is a lot of difference between both these industries. When I am working on a Hindi film, I am making music for audiences who belong to a different demography. It is very difficult to create a tune that appeals to everyone. But, in Bengal, I have a very good understanding of the kind of songs that the Bangla audience will like. Rabindra Sangeet is very popular in West Bengal. But it is not as popular across India. People have tried to translate them in several languages, but they have not worked. Only the national anthem has worked at the national level (Laughs). Bengali and Hindi, as languages, are so different. S D Burman, Salil Chowdhury and R D Burman have crossed boundaries and created everlasting melodies. I try to follow their footsteps. I want to create something similar to what they did.
Hindi films become a little difficult for people like us who are starting their journey in this industry. Most songs that you compose do not find a place in films. Last year, I worked on October, which was a fantastic film. I composed a song that was sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. That song became quite popular but it was not there in the film. In fact, there are no songs in the movie. Then, I had also worked in Pink. I composed two songs for it that were not there in the movie. I consider myself lucky that five of my songs were retained in Piku. I had also composed its background score. That was a very fulfilling experience.
What are your upcoming projects?
Bengal has been very kind to me. I have been offered four to five movies a year and sometimes more. I started this year with Shah Jahan Regency. I am composing music for Srijitda's Vinci Da. In May, I will be doing Shibu's (Shiboprosad Mukherjee) Konttho. After that, I have another film of his called Belashuru. I also have Mainak Bhaumik's Bornoporichoy. So I have my hands full. I think 2019 will be quite musical for me!