'Bollywood is incredibly narrow in its musical tastes'

'Bollywood is incredibly narrow in its musical tastes'

Music composer and producer Ram Sampath is known for his  catchy tunes that remain in the hearts of the audience for a long time. Though he started his career by composing jingles for advertisements, it was not long before albums and films beckoned him.

With a number of Bollywood biggies in his kitty, Ram has also tasted mainstream success with his desi-pop albums.

In the city recently to perform for ‘Chords of Giving’, a charity concert organised by The Akshaya Patra Foundation, the talented musician allowed Rajitha Menon to quiz him as he took a breather.

Was there never an inclination to become a singer?
​My mother wanted me to be a singer but I was far more interested in the process of making music. I was always intrigued by the people who were sitting at the sound mixing consoles rather than the singers themselves. Those images fuelled my imagination and I started to listen to music in a different way, right from my childhood.

Tamilian father and Kannadiga mother — then why the Hindi music industry?
Though my parents are from the South, ​I am a Mumbaikar — born and bred there. My parents themselves speak fluent Marathi and  brought me up to embrace the culture of the land. I have trained for nine years in Carnatic music, but it was Hindi music that was always around me. And since I was from Mumbai, Bollywood didn’t seem that distant.​

Besides, I have not received any offers from the South, so it’s actually never come up as an option. I would love to compose music for South Indian movies.

Ad jingles, rock bands and film music — which offers the maximum creative freedom?
​You always have the maximum amount of freedom when you are not answering to anybody. So without a doubt, the most freedom I had was when I was working on my rock album, ‘Colourblind’. Actually, Bollywood is incredibly narrow in its musical tastes because these days, music has become part of the marketing arm of the film. Meaning and substance have been abandoned for extravagance. But I have had some wonderful experiences working with a fearless producer like Aamir Khan on projects like ‘Satyamev Jayate’ and ‘Delhi Belly’.

Being married to a singer, what is the atmosphere like at home?
(Laughs) ​It is mostly music, music and more music. Both Sona and I are always chattering away about work, much to the annoyance of our families, but everyone knows that we love what we do.​

What do you think of the music scene in India right now?
​Film music in Bollywood has a ‘sameness’ that I don’t enjoy, but music from regional films, the kind we see in Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Malayalam, gives me hope. The independent music scene is getting better every year and that’s very encouraging.

Which has been your favourite project till date?
​I can’t pick one, but ‘Satyamev Jayate’ definitely holds the most beautiful memories for me. It was emotionally exhausting but extremely fulfilling and people still write to us about the songs of the show, even though they were aired just once on television.

What are your other hobbies?
​Reading is and has always been a passion though I don’t find as much time for it as I would like to.​

A memory that still makes you laugh...
  ​Initially, I would receive quite a few phone calls from producers who thought that Ram and Sampath were two different people. They would ask my studio for ‘Sampath ji’ if they were told that ‘Ram ji’ was unavailable!

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