How Mo Funk became Khel Khel Mein: Advaita
MUMBAI: “Khel Khel Mein Khel Khel Ke Khel Khel Ye Aa Jayega” as Amitabh Bachchan narrates these lines creating a groovy melodic fusion with the classical backing vocals (revolving around Maalkauns raga) that the Delhi-based fusion band Advaita is known for, one cannot but admire director Bejoy Nambiar’s decision to carefully create a scene around it.
Bejoy Nambiar’s love for independent musicians does not come as a surprise anymore, as the 46-year-old has used the music of bands like Bhayanak Maut and The Lightyears Explode for his previous works. With ‘Wazir’, the director not only roped in yet another decade old band with commercial success that was long overdue, but managed to do it right, yet again.
With growing number of views on the YouTube link of the video and the positive reviews towards the track, has the band finally started understanding the magnitude of mainstream success? “All of us hope that the exposure we get does translate into more fans, etc. But it’s too early to say whether we’ve moved up the ladder in terms of being known in a more mainstream market. It’s no secret that surviving in the underground/indie scene isn’t easy, so any ‘scaling up’ would be welcome” says the guitarist of the band, Abhishek Mathur. That teaming up with Nambiar (or a mainstream Bollywood movie) is an obvious factor to achieve ‘more fans and success’, but let us not take anything away from the band whose music got Nambiar singing praises of.
So how did it all happen? Reveals the band’s bassist Gaurav Chintamani, “A friend of mine, Prashant Pillai, who had worked with Bejoy, happened to play our music to him. Prashant told me that Bejoy got hooked to ‘Mo Funk’ from our second album, The Silent Sea. I got a call from Bejoy a little later and he told me that he had literally written a scene for the film after hearing the track and wanted us to make a version of the track for this project that he was working on. He didn’t give me any details, as in the name, star cast etc. We had seen ‘Shaitaan’ and were familiar with and fans of his work, so we were pretty kicked about it. He gave us the details of the project when he came to Delhi, and that’s when we got to know what we were scoring for! It took a few months for things to fall in place and he sent us a take of the recording that Mr. Bachchan did. We started work around that. It’s amazing how it just fell in sync with our music. We did run into some hassles with the record labels. Since we were drawing from a song on an album, even though it was ours, it had been licensed to a label, which wasn’t releasing the soundtrack of the film. We had to go through a long process of getting everyone on the same page. I kept thinking that we might lose the gig because of this chaos… It took the better part of a year to resolve, but Bejoy and Mr. Chopra’s production house were incredibly helpful and patient with the entire process.”
‘Khel Khel Mein’ isn’t a track Advaita wrote specifically for ‘Wazir’, in fact the band had never composed a track for any motion picture earlier, but with little modifications and tweaking by the movie’s editing team, the track was finally used for the movie. Bachchan’s dialogues were pre-recorded and sent to the band and the resulting track was the combination of ‘Mo Funk’- Advaita’s single from the album ‘The Silent Sea’- and Bachchan’s recitations, written by Abhijeet Deshpande.
So why ‘Wazir’? The guitarist explains, “We have been approached in the past for some Bollywood projects, but things didn’t work out for various reasons. It wasn’t that we said no. But we did make it clear we can’t change our sound. If a film director or producer wants us, they need to like the style of music we make. That’s exactly what happened with Wazir!”
Guitarist Mathur acknowledges the growing trend amongst Bollywood movie makers regarding the formula of using multiple artists for creating a film’s score, and further believes the bands from the underground or indie scene must make the most of it. Although he has an important piece of advice, “We also believe that a band shouldn’t change its sound drastically to fit into a movie. Having said that there might be a trend starting where film producers and directors want multiple people to contribute to the music of a film, and this can open up avenues for some experimentation and give more chances to indie musicians to showcase their own sound. It’s all about the right fit as opposed to some formula of what may or may not work.”
And if you did enjoy the Wazir’s rendition of Advaita’s singles, the band’s flexibility and desire to work for more Bollywood projects may come as great news to you. “The band is in the process of recording some new material which we hope to release by February. For now, it’s just some new singles, not an entire album. We do keep playing concerts regularly, but we have some plans to play some more shows down south where we don’t get to play very often. Also, Advaita is known for our self-produced concept shows - we’ll definitely be doing something on a grand scale soon. With regards to movie projects - no standing offers at the moment but we are certainly open to them!”