His symphonies

His symphonies

His symphonies

Music composer and singer Anoop Seelin claims to have seen God. And not just one, but five! "For me, the only gods are my father, Hamsalekha, Ilaiyaraaja, A R Rahman and Michael Jackson," Anoop declares sitting in his cosy music studio in his Rajarajeshwari Nagar home. Before I begin with my questions, Anoop has one for me - "Why are you interviewing me?" He wants to know. For his sheer body of work, I tell him. Be it his award-winning compositions for Sidlingu, or his chart-topping numbers for Love in Mandya, or his recent popular tunes for Dayavittu Gamanisi, Anoop Seelin's musicography is one to envy.

Classical beginnings

We go back to the very beginning. Pointing to his dad's photograph behind him, Anoop says, "My father, a violinist, will always be my first guru. He taught me classical music." In 1986, when the iconic movie Premaloka hit the theatres, Anoop was one of the many movie-goers entranced by its music, and especially by its music director, Hamsalekha. And in 1992, when Anoop witnessed an entire theatre dancing to the hit tunes of Roja, he realised the true power of film music and began to aspire to become a music composer.

So determined was Anoop that when he grew up, he actually managed to hitch his wagon to Hamsalekha: the hit music-maker of those times. From standing outside Hamsalekha's studio to just catch a glimpse of the star composer to becoming a part of his chorus group, and ultimately singing songs as a track singer for him, Anoop managed to rise through the ranks soon. "After singing in his chorus group for almost two to three years, Hamsalekha-sir finally took me under his wings. He was the one who introduced me to playback singing. I sang songs for films like Ondagona Baa, Nenapirali, Sixer," he says.

"It wasn't just a music school for me, it was like a life school," Anoop says recalling the time spent learning under Hamsalekha. "He was the number one in the industry back then. So, networking with important people became an everyday affair. When I finally decided to become an independent music composer, most of the industry already knew who I was. Moreover, I picked up the nuances of creating music from him," he reveals.

In 2005, Anoop decided to give wings to his childhood dream of becoming an independent music director. In 2008, his fresh tunes for the film Gooli earned him positive reviews and also brought to his doorstep films like Eddelu Manjunatha, Sidlingu, Director's Special, Love in Mandya, Neer Dose, Eradane Sala and Dayavittu Gamanisi. It doesn't matter what kind of films he gets, Anoop always looks at the soul of it, the content, to weave the tapestry of music around it. "Whether it's a script, a novel or a serial, it will always have atma or a hook point, something that triggers the emotions in me. I analyse that to figure out the tunes," he explains.

No matter what questions I throw at him, Anoop has answers at the tip of his tongue. He feels very strongly about Kannada and its fading identity, wishes people would legally download songs and end piracy, believes music reality shows do more harm than good, and also clearly states that a good voice is god's gift. But he doesn't want any other aspiring musician to go through the same journey he did. What's so bad about being a music maestro's student and creating music for hit films month after month, I wonder. Anoop explains, "A musician's life is tough. There's always a sense of uncertainty in this field. There will be instances wherein you will have work for two months in a row and then in the third month, there will be nothing. That's where the real test lies."

The secret of success

Having said that, Anoop does have a few pearls of wisdom to offer - "Music is like a big ocean. You have to keep learning. Build a sound foundation before you begin to experiment. A good music composer has to learn to incorporate many different opinions and ideas into his tunes."

His recent project Dayavittu Gamanisi pops up every now and then during our conversation. Not surprising, considering Anoop calls it his most favourite and the most challenging project till date. "It's an anthology with four different stories getting hyperlinked in the end. Usually, for a film, we compose two duets, a sad song and a mass number. But here, we had to look at each story as a different film but with a common point. I had to even let go of four to five other projects for this movie," he reveals. Two duets, a sad song, a mass number: is this formula still relevant, I ask. Anoop exclaims, "Yes, of course! That's our culture. Why change something that is loved by everybody even today?"

Just like most of the other singers and composers in the industry, Anoop too has qualms about the trend of hiring singers from Mumbai for Kannada films. But he also has a practical solution for it: "As a music composer, my song should demand the voice it needs. For instance, for the song 'Currentu Hodha Timealli' in Love in Mandya, I felt that it demanded the voice of Bappi Lahiri, so I went to him. But to balance the equation, I brought in a local singer for the female portion," he explains, adding that there should be a 'give & take' policy in such matters.

The door to the music studio opens and his sound engineer walks in with Anoop's one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Aalaapana. "We had decided her name even before she was born," Anoop beams as he cuddles her. That's the cue for me to end the conversation and leave the music director to his world of melodies.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox