A tryst with tunes

In conversation

When you think of composer Tapas Relia, popular jingles like Kya Aap Close-up Karte Hain, Dhak dhak go India go (Hero Honda) or the IPL theme song Duniya Hila Denge Hum are the first things that come to your mind.

Today, Tapas has an impressive and distinct range of music to his credit and he has proved his ability to tackle any genre. From animation films like Hanuman and Toonpur Ka Super Hero to Priyadarshan’s Bum Bum Bole, Rajesh Mapuskar’s Ferrari Ki Sawari and Nagesh Kuknoor’s Mod and the latest Lakshmi, the composer has showcased his talent on a big scale.

Tapas says his inspirations have always been drawn from the real world. “I have always been a conscious loner. My music is my world, so I keep looking for inspiration from various spheres of life. I often live in a deluded cocoon. I have the heart of a child and I think light music interests me. It’s important to feel good and make good music,” he explains.

Tapas’s debut venture was the animated film Hanuman, which was a huge blockbuster, after which he went on to do two more animated films. “Unfortunately, our industry works on trends,” says Tapas, adding, “Once I did this film, I was offered only animated films. Finally, I started turning them down. I did Hanuman Returns as you don’t say no to Anurag Kashyap.

Toonpur Ka Superhero was a different experiment, as it was an animated film with live characters. I got films like Bum Bum Bole and Ferrari Ki Sawari, which were interesting. Nagesh Kuknoor’s Yeh Hausla had Rajasthani folk elements and Lakshmi again was a different film. It was quite an uphill task creating music for this film. We took only four out of seven songs as they were too sad,” he says.

Apart from films, the young composer is busy creating jingles which he says is not an easy job either. “The pressure is unbelievable, but I enjoy that kind of pressure as it makes me come out with good music,” he adds.

Tapas, who originally hails from Gujarat, says that he never planned to become a music composer. “I came to Mumbai when I was 17 and didn’t have anything in mind. I took each day as it came.

I loved the medium of audio married to a visual and that’s how I got to work on jingles. I am actually a self-taught composer. I learnt Hindustani classical music from Pandit Suresh and came to Mumbai and trained myself at the Trinity College of Music.

I learnt to play the piano and completed seven grades. The credit goes to my teachers Mehru Darji and Cyrus Panthaki. Fortunately, my parents too didn’t hinder my passion.

The only pressure I felt was that I had to live up to their expectations. I don’t ever want to let them down.”

Like every composer, Tapas says he loves doing background scores as well. “I enjoy the process of scoring background music,” he says. “But it all depends on the director’s demands. There are so many composers today and they are all very good,” he adds.

However, he states that he is not afraid of competition. “Competition is healthy. I have never been insecure. I know directors come to me for my uniqueness. Unfortunately, more and more producers have taken music lightly. It has now become a commodity. They want music that trends. It’s no longer emotional. That is saddening and challenging.”

While most of the composers are turning performers themselves, Tapas too has not ruled out the idea. “But directors hate my voice,” he smiles. “I have sung some jingles though. I had sung a song for Hanuman Returns, it was a scratch but then we decided that Daler Mehndi would sing the song.”

While he is busy trying different sounds, the composer who has had a strong Gujarati upbringing rues, “I have a strong Indian rural side that is dying to come into my music. Somewhere the natural elements somehow reflect in my music. I hope someday I will get to do a film which will bring out the Gujarati flavour.”

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