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I have produced sounds with a native touch in 'Kantara': Ajaneesh

The music composer opens up to Ram Rakshith V on how he approached the songs and background score for the runaway Kannada hit by Rishab Shetty
Last Updated : 30 October 2022, 08:46 IST
Last Updated : 30 October 2022, 08:46 IST

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Ajaneesh Loknath
Ajaneesh Loknath
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Actor-director Rishab Shetty's 'Kantara' is going strong at the box office and the film's dubbed versions (Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu) hit the screens this Friday. The ecological thriller has been praised by audience and critics alike not just for its visual presentation but also for its enchanting music by Ajaneesh Loknath.

The vibrant sounds in the film capture the flavour of Coastal Karnataka. They highlight traditional practices, like the Buta Kola. The film’s plot revolves around the ritual dance, an animist form of spirit worship practiced in the coastal districts of Tulu Nadu.

Composer Ajaneesh tells Showtime that once the team decided that 'Kantara' would be based on a legend, he started working on the grass root level to produce sounds with a native touch rather than focusing on giving a routine commercial album.

The composer has given importance to 'paddanagalu' (folk songs sung in Tulu Nadu) in this film. He has used a rare combination of flute and 'koragara dolu' for the background music. Ajaneesh says he was awestruck when he listened to the combined instrumental music as he thought the sound of 'dolu' might dominate flute music.

Dolu and tase instruments enhance Rishab’s entry scene, in which he rides a buffalo. An Australian tribe instrument called didgeridoo was the key in producing a scream-like sound. Kazoo instrument blends with didgeridoo to enrich the sound.

To capture the original sound of the instruments played in the daiva (demigod) dance, the team hired noted sound recordists Arun and Shine.

A ‘throat singing’ concept has been adopted in the background music to give a rich cinematic experience. Tibetian monks use this method for chants. ‘’When Guliga daiva enters into Shiva, the protagonist, I have employed this concept to bring in the religiosity. Though this is a foreign element, I ensured it doesn’t harm the authenticity of the practice,’’ says Ajaneesh.

Instruments such as 'damaru' and 'gaggara' have also showcased the nature of daivas. A trending song from the film is 'Varaha roopam daiva va rishtam' sung by Sai Vignesh. It has a blend of carnatic classical music, folk and western rock music.

‘’In the Buta Kola portion of this song, I have used rock music. To show the Panjurali daiva, I have also brought into play carnatic classical music as it is divine, and the 'paddanas' are in the folk genre,’’ he shares. Ajaneesh has used rock music to boost the scene's intensity, imagining Ravana’s intense bhakti towards Shiva. Todi, varali and mukhari ragas form the classical elements in this song.

Mime Ramdas has recorded the folk genre-based 'Rebel song' while Vijay Prakash and Ananya Bhat have sung the romantic melody 'Singara siriye', which features Rishab and Saptami Gowda.

Regarding the challenges in composing music for 'Kantara', Ajaneesh says, ‘’In 'Ulidavaru Kandanthe' (2014) film, I explored the rich culture of Dakshina Kannada as a music director. I was attracted to the language, and nature and produced music and scores from the elements of ‘huli vesha’ (tiger dance), which is a key feature in the film. I took that experience to compose songs for this film, which is set in a similar environment.’’

Copying allegations

On the talks on social media about the song 'Varaha roopam' being eerily similar to the song 'Navarasam' from 'Thaikkudam Bridge', Ajaneesh said he was only "inspired from the Kerala-based band’s music style", and asserted that "the songs and score of 'Kantara' are original".

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Published 15 October 2022, 05:51 IST

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