Now Shantanu Mohitra is not your typical music composer hailing from Bollywood, he is man strives to encourage his listeners to “see” a country by experiencing its music.
With us, he shares his stories and experiences in the mighty Himalayas, the ideology and the showcase compositions created by him.
Have a read:
1) Before we begin a quick flashback into your childhood, a journey back to your home place where you grew up, we know you loved to travel, trek.
Was it in the genes or it was your way to connect and explore?
Shantanu: -When you are traveling and trekking in the mountains how insignificant you are, and the way I create is not set up for me, its the story, the character needs for importance than me.So my endeavor is always that like if you see my films like from Parineeta, Munnabhai,3 Idiots it is always a story with the movie, so that helps me create, cause I have traveled and I know how difficult it is in the major cities and comes naturally to me.
2) Was it hard to quit a well-placed job in the bank to becoming a full-time music composer?
Shantanu: It was pretty much a fact that I cherished music, mainly jingles exposed me to the fact that you can make music and money too.I was content doing 30 sec-40 sec songs, anything outside my office was happiness to me.
3) Share with us the whole ideology behind ‘Song of the Himalayas’ which is inspired by the 100-days journey across the Himalaya; it is indeed breathtaking, and a handful of musicians would dare to choose such a path.
How would you sum up the entire experience?
Shantanu: So I have concluded half of my trip, and I had to come back to finish the movie, and now that’s done I am off in October again to complete my journey.
The idea was fascinating since childhood when I loved traveling, and trek on the mountains and Himalayas was a 7-hour drive from Delhi.I have seen my family, my friends, brothers …it’s kind of a Bengali thing to hike in the mountains.So I was exposed to that even before got into music and always wanted to stay in the hills, be with the mountains but life took an unexpected turn, pleasant and I nearly forgot everything and got into work, came to Bombay, but I still did treks.
Once in a year, we would always plan a short trip.But what I wanted to do was spend a prolonged time not just go for 10-15 days. That’s when the thought came up when I was with my fellow camper to do this whole 100 days thing.
We started from the 20th of last month and it’s been a roller coaster ride since then, Deep valleys to the highest plateau some the cold places, fresh waterfalls, lush meadows and the beautiful people, tribe and the awesome musicians playing under the wonderful nights.I have seen all that in this journey.
Q)Are you recording any organic sounds from the Himalayas?
Shantanu: Well that is proceeding automatically, The focus was never music.I was curious about my country, my Himalayas; I was curious above 14,000 ft what’s are people like there? Do they watch the television, do they go to school,do they have the same holidays as we do ?
It was a personal and a spiritual trip.
As soon as you are free of all the compulsions, you start creating stuff and that’s what happened with me,when I was sitting next to a river or a glacier a melody would kick in my head and gradually I started having a bulk of them at 14,000 ft.
4) You will be performing at the NCPA on the 7th of October, How does it feel to share the stage with a famous Buddhist nun Ani Choying, who is an influential person is thriving the Tibetan culture and music?
Are we disconnected to the real old music and its culture?
Shantanu:- Yes I am nervous to perform as no one has ever heard this sound of mine.Ani Choying is a dear friend of mine, and we will be playing first time on the stage.Back when I was young, I never had the money to watch the concerts, but I was desperate to see.So I would take the job of an usher at the theater, and in that time I would get to watch the whole concert for free, and that was the terrible time when I explore from Zakir Hussain to Pandit Hari Prasad, Shiv Kumar Sharma and these idea’s formulated in my head.
So with this journey, I am trying to reconnect with my experience back then with music from the present.
Q)We Indians conceived classical art forms, and we are disconnected towards it? What could be the reason?
Shantanu: As Indians, we are disconnected from everything, be it music, arts, honesty it’s everything to.But when we speak of those people they are those urban people the Delhi,Bombay people.But there is this vast multitude of people outside these metros, and I have seen them, I have visited the villages and their Musical roots are strong.Crossing a place in Ladakh once, there was this small village I was staying, I saw a bunch of people collectively in deep discussion and I asked they told me they found a 500rs note apparently from a tourist,and that’s it.
They were debating on how to share the money amongst the village !
So roots do exist, it’s just opposite in the same country at different places.
Q)As a musician you have 2 personas, one is the Bollywood face, and the other is the one we will See at NCPA.
How do you manage to pull it off so shrewdly?
Shantanu: – We humans are born to multi-task, you work in the office, we all have different roles but what’s common is the desire, and no one can force you to work if you have no desire at all.When I do Bollywood that I don’t do it as a liability, I do it cause I wish to do it.learn to say no if you don’t want to.
Also regarding my other half ,the role today is to share the time clip of the world which I have seen in those 50 days apart from the mountains , which we all read in books or seen on television.
5) Share with us a sneak peak of what we will see today at the NCPA.
Shantanu: Well, I cannot walk you through the whole show for some obvious reasons, but there are 7 songs, with the theme and the feel of Himalayas.We have some brilliant artists who will help put heart and soul to my compositions.
5) Your checklist before you sign a movie as the music composer?
Shantanu: I go by the person I know, the sensibility of the individual.So when I am working with Rajkumar Hirani or anyone I am aware of their passion, I am aware of their enthusiasm.We have this beautiful word called NO, and I am not afraid if I don’t like something.
11) Share with us five songs from your playlist you are glued too.
1-Friday Night in San Francisco
2-Al Di Meola
3-Shanti Mantra- Ravi Shankar
4-Eric Clapton x Tracy Chapman -Fast Cars.
5-A Nepli song called Buluch bum,folk song.
1-Your biggest inspiration outside the world of music?
Reinhold Messner, famous mountaineer.
2-Your dream collaboration?
-Youssou N’Dour from Senegal
3-What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year?
4-If we ask to describe your sound as a visual, what would it look like?
-Just a world in ultra slow motion
5-Favourite band, you listened back in your days?