For me, the introductory lilting sound of the sarod set the tone for “Piku”.
The film, directed by Shoojit Sircar, is about Piku (Deepika Padukone), and her cantankerous and forever constipated father Bhaskor Banerji (Amitabh Bachchan). It’s a funny film that portrays conflicts, emotions, silences, and just the right amount of music. Irrfan Khan is the big surprise as a taxi-driver-turned-lover-boy.
The film released in cinemas on Friday. [Review here]
The sarod, synonymous with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, is a musical instrument that is mostly played in Indian classical music performances. It is an unusual and rare ingredient in a Bollywood music album.
But if you watch the film, the intermittent sound of the sarod is anything but out of place. It is a poignant mood-creater, when dialogue is not required or when silence is all that one needs.
In the opening credits, the sarod is gently played as people settle down in the cinema hall for a new story that is about to be told. Immediately, Sircar had my thumbs up. I thought it was a very tasteful thing to do.
After Banerji, 70, has been laid to rest, Piku walks into his bedroom in Kolkata. She looks up and cries. The melodious, but sad notes of the instrument give her company. The sound reverberates, creating an atmosphere of grief and loneliness. She gets up, straightens the bed sheet and leaves.
The background score created a musical overhang that left me looking for more of the sarod. Unfortunately, Anupam Roy’s debut Bollywood music album does not feature a sarod-only track. But, kudos to the man for including the beautiful instrument in a mainstream Hindi film.
In an interview with India Today magazine, musician Roy, a big name in the Bengali industry, is asked the obvious question. Why the sarod, “which we hardly hear in contemporary Hindi songs”?
“In my Bengali music, too, I keep experimenting with Indian musical instruments. This is just an extension of whatever I’ve been doing with my Bengali music. Bezubaan is a rock ballad which sounds very Indian because of the sarod,” he says.
Roy has lent his voice to four songs in the film, including a duet with Shreya Ghoshal.
A gold medalist in engineering from Kolkata’s Jadavpur University, Roy wanted to be a doctor, like his father.
“But deep down, I guess I always wanted to be a musician. I wanted to live my life in music…in the field of arts, actually. Music, movies, literature, all of these always interested me more than anything else,” he says in the India Today interview.
His most popular song, “Amake Amar Moto Thakte Dao”, singularly contributed to his success as a musician in 2010.
“Keep it the way you do it in Bangla,” was all Sircar told his music director. It had to be simple, yet lively and of course with a lot of musical instruments.
It is not surprising that for a no-frills musician like Anupam Roy, Bollywood has not made a beeline outside his house yet. But let’s hope we hear more of him soon.
P.S. UPDATE: And guess what? Roy released Piku’s sarod theme on YouTube on May 18. Here it is:
Happy listening, folks!