Gourov Dasgupta is one of the new breeds in the Hindi film music industry and is a cool combination of both music director and rocker. Not only can the man write a killer tune, he is also probably the one wailing on the guitar! He has only been in the industry a few short years, but you have heard his hits on Dus Kahiniyaan, Aa Dekhen Zara, and on his newest release Hide & Seek. For the edge of you seat thriller, Gourov composed tracks that range from a new take on ‘Jingle Bells’, to rock power ballad in ‘Kaise Jiyu’ to a full on rock jam ‘Maula’ and each one is awesome. I got a hold of Gourov, between recording sessions, for a chat about his music and we had a rockin’ (if you will forgive the pun) talk! See for yourself!
How did you get started in the Hindi film Industry?
I have been a guitar player with a lot of rock bands and you have either got to be very rich to do rock music in India or you can’t. So, I came to Bombay three and half years ago and Bollywood happened to me. My first film was Dus Kahaniyaan and the music was a major hit. My last film was Aa Dekhen Zara , which was with Neil Nitin Mukesh and Bipasha Basu and that was also a major hit for the music. It has been great. As long as I am doing music, it is all good. I am doing music and I have my rock band, so I couldn’t be happier.
Tell us about the music of Hide & Seek.
Well, Hide & Seek I feel has been by far my best in Bollywood. Most of the credit should go to Apoorva Lakhia. He has been the most amazing guy to work with and we have worked really fast. All the tracks are rocking. This is actually my favorite soundtrack out of everything I have done til now.
What kind of brief did he give you for the music?
The first time I met with Apoorva was regarding the song called ‘Maula’. This was first time we were really talking work, because I was chasing him for quite a while to work with him. I was already infatuated with his tattoos, I mean he has more tattoos than I do, but that was not the only reason I wanted to work with him (laughs). Anyway, he called me in the morning and he asked if I heard of the band Journey and I said yes. He probably thought I must be bluffing, because a Bollywood music director hearing of Journey, that is just not possible (laughs), but he came over to my place and I played him the whole Journey soundtrack. He said okay he wanted something along those lines, like a full on rock song with an anthem and chorus. It was funny because by the next day I had a song ready and it was done. He came and heard it, and it was on. At that point of time, I was just supposed to do one song for the album, but then he needed a ballad, which was already done by many people before, and I gave him ‘Kaise Jiyu’. ‘Kaise Jiyu’ is already very popular and people love that song. Then the title track happened, finally ‘Jingle Bells’ happened. See what it was with ‘Jingle Bells’, that is really not my sound, but we just kind of got it together and it worked. So, that is how Hide & Seek happened. It was fast, bizarre and very satisfying in the end of it all.
All the songs were composed after the film was done, what was it like working that way?
Yeah, everything was composed after the film was done and there are no lip synch songs in the film. There are a couple of promotional videos, like ‘Maula’ has a video, ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Kaise Jiyu’, but there are no lip synch songs in the movie. That would make it more difficult or easier, depends person to person. The thing is with Apu is that he knows exactly what he wants and he gets it done. That makes life easier for everyone.
When you are composing a song say like ‘Kaise Jiyu’, is it Krishna’s voice you hear?
Krishna is my favorite singer and we have done a lot of great stuff together. But when I make a song at first, it is just a voice in my head. I am not someone who can sit down and instantly write it, the song has to come to me. Ghana banaa diya, chalo let me sit and I say okay one song is done… I don’t work that way. The songs have to come to me and when they do come, it is maybe 10 at a shot or else I won’t do it. So, I made ‘Kaise Jiyu’ and the only guy I thought that could do justice to the song was Krishna. It has that Sufi rock flavor plus he sounds like a dream.
And working with Suraj Jagan on ‘Maula’ how did that come about?
At that point of time Suraj and I were doing a side project, we were doing this whole electronica heavy metal kind of project called the ‘Breathe the Light’. He was working with me on that and since this was a rock context and we wanted to shoot a video for ‘Maula,’ he was the best option. He has the whole rocker vibe and someone who is into rock music. He has that whole flavor and I think it has come through.
How much was director Shawn involved in the recording of the soundtrack?
Shawn is my band buddy, he is also playing guitar in my band. Shawn is like a brother. The promotional shows we are doing for Hide & Seek are with my band Fallen, and Shawn plays second guitar in the band. Shawn has always been a rocker boy, he used to play guitar in college and grew up listening to the same shit like me like Guns and Roses and Metallica. So, we were always on the same place.
Tell me more about your band Fallen.
It is rock band and there are not too many Bollywood music directors out here who are actually part of a rock band and I mean a proper rock band. Not just playing a CD and singing on top of it like the usual, it is a proper hard rock band. We are going to go out and start touring very soon. We have just done two major gigs for promoting the music of the film. Plus we have our own songs all in English. It really doesn’t happen much that they would invite the band for the launch, but with me being a music director it works. Not too many music directors are guitar players in a heavy metal band (laughs). People are quite shocked when the hear ‘Jingle Bells’ and then they hear my guitar stuff, they are like don’t tell me it is the same guy. That is so cool.
I really think that Bollywood music is opening up so that rock music is more accepted.
Of course, otherwise you wouldn’t be calling me and taking my interview (laughs). For sure it is! The whole tabla/ dholak scene and how it used to be a lot of monopoly and a lot of camps – it is still there, but a lot of people are taking chances with new people, people like Apoorva and a lot of other people. So, yeah it is coming of age I guess – it is improving.
It seems that many movies are going more toward the songs being background music than the standard lip synch scenes, what do you think of this?
Absolutely, people are looking at it more as a soundtrack with promotional videos and stuff than a couple dancing around trees (laughs) lip-synching something. I mean I have done that for films I won’t deny, but people are becoming more conscious of a soundtrack and there is a f***ing rock band supporting the acts, supporting the music of the film. These are things, which are new. It is getting better.
How do you work with the singers and musicians in the studio?
I have my own home studio; I have my own home set up. Everyone is most comfortable over there. It is like this whole red lounge, with batman figures all over (laughs). I generally like working with friends unless there is a compulsion that I have to work with this singer or this lyricist. I like working with friends. I like working with new people, because, you know, I am still new and if someone can give me a chance than even I can give a chance to someone. That’s what I follow. Most people like to work with big names, big singers, but I feel if I can help someone like I was helped than that is what I should do.
What do you think are your greatest musical influences?
As a guitar player Steve Vai, I use his signature Ibanez guitars as well. Megadeth, that is my favorite band. Dream Theatre, Whitesnake, Alice in Chains, this is what I listen to. This is kind of stuff we like to play.
What is your favorite track of yours?
From films, my favorite song would be ‘Kaise Jiyu’.
How do you start composing a song, is it on a certain instrument, do you begin with lyrics or the melody line? How does that all work.
I start with the melody the melody always comes first. Being a guitar player I do compose a lot on guitar, but I have my engineer and friend Roshan, he is my backbone. He is a keyboard player and is my sound engineer. Sometimes I like to compose on keyboard, because if I am playing guitar and composing I know what is coming next. I just don’t want to suppress that or cut it down, so sometimes I make it on keyboards and then play something on top and the mix comes after that. All my songs are more chordal; lots of chords happening, the bass line is important and a lot of orchestration and the string parts.
So how do go from that first melody line on the guitar to the final mix of all the elements.
What is most important to me is the melody of the song. That is something I have learned in Bollywood. I can’t just play a great ten finger tapping solo and get away with it (laughs). The melody is most important and then I just put ornamentation all around it, whatever that sounds right to me.
Like for example, ‘Maula’, that guitar hook line that came later, the song came first. Sometimes when people hear that intro guitar line, they are like okay this is ‘Maula’, but that came later, first was the melody. The hook line, the chorus is important. I still like to follow a chorus/verse pattern more than a mukhra/antra pattern.
The band has been performing at some of the promotional events for the film. How has that experience been?
The response has been mind blowing! All thanks goes to Apu and Shawn and this whole crew. Generally at a music launch people just sing over a CD or play the CD and that is about it, but you know we had this whole bloody stage and this whole full f***in band and everything else and it was heavy shit. Everyone was blown! At first everyone thought we were just miming on the CD, but then they realized no these guys are actually playing live – that was really fun. All of a sudden people have been showing so much interest and they are like WOW this is possible in Bollywood, so that has been great!
If you can tell me what is your favorite moment in the film that is backed up by one of your songs.
The part with the song ‘Kaise Jiyu’ is great and well, the whole album, since it is more background score. But also, like the title song comes when this guy is really tripping and it has been very well placed. So everything! I love the film! I love the music. I love everything about it!
It is always fabulous to talk to someone who is totally into their work and Gourov is definitely one of those guys. The music he has composed for Hide & Seek is fabulous, especially with that rocker edge he has put into some of the tracks. I cannot wait to hear what he will play for us next. Be sure and check the soundtrack out! Also mark your calendar for February 19th, because that is when Hide & Seek is set to give you a thrilling night at the movies!!