A different tune

Debarati Palit Singh
Thursday, 14 March 2019

Karan Kulkarni, who has composed the music for Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, talks about the film and says that while working on independent projects, the focus is more on the background score

I like to do stuff which is different,” says composer Karan Kulkarni. He has composed the music and background score for  upcoming Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota starring Abhimanyu Dassani (son of actress Bhagyashree) and Radhika Madan. 

Karan says that the music has got a quirky feel to it. “We were trying to get lots of sounds from the ’80s and ’90s, so the music has got a very retro and funky vibe to it,” he says but adds that even though he has used music from these two decades, the elements are quite quirky. “Millennials will be able to relate to the music,” he says.

The experience of composing for Mard Ko... must have been different from that of composing for a conventional commercial Hindi film. “Yes. I like to do things that are different, not for the sake of doing different but because I feel why should one do something that everyone is doing. You have your own voice. When you are doing music, you should get the chance to express yourself. I can easily deliver something that everyone is making but I don’t find it to be a great experience,” says the music producer.
Karan has previously composed music for two critically acclaimed independent films – Vasan Bala’s Peddlers and Hansal Mehta’s Shahid. Both the films were part of several national and international film festivals. Does the work become more challenging when you are working on off-beat stories, we ask. He replies, “Well, you don’t have a lot of pressure from the makers; they are not expecting you to make something to which people will dance at a night club. So you get to explore a lot of different styles and experiment a lot more. That’s the positive of it. But when the film is releasing, it gets tricky because suddenly people want to sell it. All this while, you and the director were trying to do something different and now the people who are trying to sell it are like, ‘How do we sell it now?’. That’s when it gets challenging. Because the music is not mainstream, how do they sell it?” says Karan who has also worked extensively in advertising.

An important factor while working on independent projects, says Karan, is that the focus is more on the background score. “There are a number of reasons. Most of the offbeat films are very dear to the filmmaker as they want to tell the story the way they want. A lot of cinema around the world doesn’t involve song and dance, which is a traditional Bollywood thing. Music in off-beat films therefore is more about supporting the visuals. And the filmmakers use music for promotions,” he says.
Personally, for him, says Karan, it really doesn’t matter whether he is working on independent or commercial music because at the end of the day, it’s still music. “I can create both but it does happen that people who come to me with work, may see something different in me and therefore approach me for such projects. You just need to create good songs and if you do that ,nothing else matters,” he points out. 

After composing a single track for popular series Sacred Games last year, Karan is composing music for two other web series though he refuses to speak about them. “I can say that it’s different while composing music for web series because it’s episodic; you get to work much longer. You keep making musical themes and keep using it across. You also get slightly more freedom while working on a web series,” he says. 

While signing a project, Karan reveals, he focuses on the people behind it. “You need to have a rapport with the team you work — it’s a long commitment after all. And you have to be sure you are working with good people,” he signs off.

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