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Interviews |  13 Jul 2016 19:23 |  By RnMTeam

What does the first Indian stoner movie 'sound' like?

MUMBAI: If you have ever rolled a joint or found yourself in a room where someone did, then you’d understand and acknowledge the importance of sound during these ‘sessions’. And the director of India’s first stoner movie, Agneya Singh, was entirely aware of the practice. The young director would not only hope to change the misconceptions about the cannabis, but also the notion related to the music revolving its culture. With the soundtrack that comprises the voice of a sixteen-year-old to an established American-French band, ‘M Cream’ did not restrict its broad and diverse objectives only to the characters and the storyline. Through the songs released so far, and the interaction with the director and the lead actor Imaad Shah, one can easily conclude the vital role of the ‘sound’ of this movie that potentially makes itself the passive passenger or another companion till the end. interacted with the director Agneya Singh, associate director Aban Raza and musician-actor Imaad Shah.

There's a stereotypical perception about stoners and their taste in music. Although partially true, but stoners don’t restrict their genres of music to psy-trance or progressive rock, but in fact, remain receptive to more diverse sounds. And the initial perception of ‘M Cream’ gives the idea that you focused on diversity in your sound too. How important was that?

Agneya Singh: That’s a very good question. Talking about the soundtrack of the movie, first of all, it’s important for me to inform that Shrijan Mahajan (Parikrama), Arsh Sharma (The Circus) and Nikhil Malik (Half Step Down) orchestrated most of the activities from the early point of the script. Like our culture, music plays an extremely essential role in this movie. This movie is more than a stoner movie and the sound has many shades. The Delhi scenes revolve around the urban setting, and hence the music involves a lot of electronic or House music. In the movie, the characters indulge in a road-trip, and that’s when the sound drifts away from electronica to a bit more folksy Indian vibe. In fact, this is the part of the movie where the audience would listen to Shubha Mudgal’s piece. And then, in the later stages, when these characters meet another vital character to the story, that’s where psychedelic music kicks in. Whereas, in the end, the characters involve themselves in a serious movement, and that demanded – to a certain extent – the return of folk vibe. On the music front, I can say, it’s not a black and white approach. There are certainly various shades to the music. Music had to be eclectic and provide justice to the several themes in the movie.

Any reviews or responses about the music of ‘M Cream’ from the festivals where you’ve screened the project so far?

Agneya: Yes. In fact, in Germany, people asked us about the music. The idea of Indian music in the west is about what Bollywood has been creating. So, these people were psyched about what they had heard.

How difficult was it to convince the two international acts to perform for an indie project/movie?

Agneya: So, Lili Rocha is a Brazilian star, and she’s extremely popular in Europe. She’s extremely vivacious person. We have funding from some overseas parties too, who recommended me Lili. And when I approached her, she was gracious enough to come down to India. In fact, she also has a small cameo as Barry John’s love interest. She has, in fact, shot a music video in India long time ago. She has sung an original in English titled ‘Free Riding’.

Aban Raza: I had met Arthur (guitarist/keyboardist of ‘Moriarty’) in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. During the creation of the soundtrack for the movie, Agneya and I came across one of Moriarty’s originals called ‘Belle’ that involves the ‘sarangi’ instrument. And the song perfectly suited a scene in the movie. The band has nostalgia when it comes to India, and when we explained the scene, an understanding was formed. And that’s how we got our second international artist.

It's quite obvious the movie would be targeted to the Indian audience, especially the youth. Was reaching out to western audience through the familiar western sounds (in the form of Lily and Moriarty) one of the intentions behind roping them?

Agneya: Not really, and as it turns out, their music has perfectly blended with the respective scenes.

Aban: Also the scenes demanded their music. It was necessary for the two elements to complement each other. We did not rope any artist keeping the audience in our minds.

Had you failed to rope in these artistes (Indian or international), were there any Plan B or alternative musicians that you had shortlisted?

Aban: A lot of decisions were taken by the three music directors. From Shantanu Pandit to Sushmit Bose, the music directors had a say in the ultimate decisions. With Moriarty and Lili, we used our personal contacts. And with the Indian musicians, Arsh and Shrijan knew these guys from the alternative music scene. That helped us roping the remaining talents that contributed musically for the movie. In Shubha Mudgal’s case, she has worked with Shrijan before. So when we approached her with the movie, we did not introduce it as “the stoner movie”. The visuals appealed to her, and she’s pretty warm and ‘bindaas’ for someone as established as her.

How long did it take to create the soundtrack for the movie?

Agneya: Six months, more or less. Initially, we had just narrated the scene of the movie to Shrijan and other guys. So they composed music accordingly. But after the movie was shot, we realised some of the tracks wasn’t justifying the respective scenes. So we had to rearrange and recompose few of the songs all over again.

Actor Imaad Shah – who performs the role of the protagonist – has created an identity in the past two years in the alternative music scene. With the electronic act ‘Madboy/Mink’, Imaad Shah a.k.a. Madboy loves to be the ‘careful dictator’ when it comes to his live shows, and the actor believes the ‘attention to details’ extends to his acting too. The actor wore his own jackets for certain scenes, as a naturalistic move, opposed to the costumes provided to him. Apart from that, he’s very much the director's actor.

The movie hasn't released yet, so we have not much idea about your character. But if you could tell, what kind of music would your character listen to? Can you describe his taste in music?

Imaad: That’s an interesting question. It’d definitely be punk rock. He embodies the ‘punk rock’ aesthetics. I am sure that’s how the character was written. A rebel with or without cause. I can imagine him listening to The Sex Pistols, Ramones and even Bob Dylan. He’d associate with the 70s and 80s Brit Rock. I can also imagine him listening to 60s folk. He’s basically a struggling writer who travels everywhere with a notebook and pen. He’s extremely a literary guy. He’s an opinionated guy. I don’t picture him to be a metalhead. Agneya gave Ira’s character more or less of a Joan Baez personality. Whereas, my character is completely opposite. He’s a proper cynic.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the soundtrack of the movie?

Imaad: Of whatever I have heard so far, 8/10..surely.