Excerpts from a conversation between GV Prakash Kumar and Baradwaj Rangan
Sir is like my teacher. I still fear him, and that’s probably because he gave me my first chance. When Vasanthabalan sir brings emotions to the screen, it takes you to another place. He gave me the ‘zone’ I needed to compose ‘Uruguthey Maruguthey’, ‘Kathaigalai Pesum’ and ‘Un Perai Sollum Pothe’. I love how he extracts lyrics for his songs. There’s a song in Jail that I’m acting in, called ‘Katrodu Kaathaane’. Dhanush and Aditi Rao Hydari sang the song, and it’s something interesting.
Vetri Maaran sir helped me earn a reputation for background score. Even today, I hear my music playing in bike horns, and that’s so cool. With Vetri sir, the music always has a space for action, you move into something, the score evolves around the frames.
He has the ability to shoot any song beautifully. I had to force him to use ‘Pookal Pookum Tharunam’, as there was no situation for that song. I composed the song after hearing the story. He created a situation to place that song in the movie and brought the song to life with his visuals. With Saivam, I wanted to create an album like Malgudi Days. I treated the music like the narrative of Malgudi Days. Uthara got a National Award for the song ‘Azhagu’.
We get mad when we work together. He has the ability to write lyrics as I compose. We went on trips to find certain songs, and the process of composing music with him is amazing. You’re blindfolded when you make music with Selvaraghavan, and I don’t know how we arrived at the score for Aayirathil Oruvan. I think my score for Mayyakkam Enna is the best I’ve done to date.
Atlee is a new wave of energy. For Raja Rani, he wanted a Bollywood kind of treatment, something like Wake up Sid or Shuddh Desi Romance, and that was the starting point. The background score and the songs we delivered were very fresh. He wanted a three-phase song, which started with an acapella (which I suggested) and ending with a gaana (which he wanted) and that was the germ for ‘Hey Baby’. There was also a symphony portion that we had to cut out later.
His is a different kind of mad, compared to Selvaraghavan. He called me one day to Bombay. He was in a full suit, and then suddenly flagged a share auto and we went to a roadside stall where he bought me a bhajji. He’s bizarre and nomadic. He met me after listening to ‘Celebration Of Life’ (the soundtrack of Aayirathil Oruvan). He did not give me a commitment, but told me we would do a movie together.
A year later, when I thought he’d forgotten about me, he told me he’d finished a movie and asked if I could score for it. I really liked the way he shot Gangs of Wasseypur. When I saw it, I thought I should treat it like The Godfather and respect the period in which the film is set in. When the 80s end and the 90s begin, the trumpets die down and live rock guitar enters the score. After we scored the film, he called to say he’s flying down to Chennai for some corrections. He just told me to change the fade-ins and fade-outs, which could have been done over the phone. He slept in the studio that night and flew back. One thing I love about him is how much he believed in me and trusted in my music; he flew down only because he respected my work and wanted to tell me in person.