Musician Sneha defies convention, follows her heart

Conventional is not her style. Sneha Khanwalkar, the woman behind the distinctly different music of "Gangs of Wasseypur", delves into rustic beats from the heartland, teams up with local folk singers and adds her own touch to produce

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 | 1:25:50 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Sneha Khanwalkar

Conventional is not her style. Sneha Khanwalkar, the woman behind the distinctly different music of "Gangs of Wasseypur", delves into rustic beats from the heartland, teams up with local folk singers and adds her own touch to produce a contemporary cocktail.

The composer says she just goes with the flow and theme of a movie without any research, and it works!

"I do not research. It's not like I put down things and decide intellectually. I just decide generally," Khanwalkar, the woman behind "Womaniya", "Hunter" and "Keh Ke Loonga" from Anurag Kashyap's two-part crime thriller "Gangs Of Wasseypur", told IANS.

Khanwalkar, 29, one of the few women composers in the male-dominated Bollywood space, has carved a niche for herself by spotting rare talent - like 12-year-old Durga who went from the rough environs of Mumbai local trains to a swish music studio for the song "Dil chhi chha ledar".

Even as part of MTV's show "Sound Trippin", Khanwalkar made inroads into some unexplored areas of the country to collect sounds from there and compose a song at the end of each episode.

The composer clearly believes in thinking local, and creating a truly global appeal.

"If a song is based in one place, that place has its own quality. People have their own of way of thinking and talking, which is different from how we think in the city. So it is important to know how they sing and render their music.

"It is only after you know the place that you will be able to imbibe its quality in the song. If the director of the film is going all out to depict something skilfully, then I just try to do the same thing with the music of the film."

It is in that sense that she is unconventional.

"You might say that all my songs are different, but I can only imagine them like this. For example, I guess my idea of revenge song is very different from others. My idea of a revenge song is something like 'Keh ke loonga', which is very different from what someone else might think of it," she said.

Her efforts to be "different" have worked consistently, and she credits the changing taste of music listeners for it too.

"I think that listening (audience) is also changing. The way we talk has changed quite a lot. Our parents communicate differently, while we are quicker and edgier in our conversations. Look at the sounds around us today, plus technology has also contributed towards making music. Listeners are changing and with that the music also changes," she said.

Such creativity and experimentation also stems from working with open-minded directors, said Khanwalkar, adding: "Thankfully, I have worked with directors like Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashap who let you do different things."

Her Bollywood journey began with the film "Kal: Yesterday and Tomorrow" in 2005, and her compositions for Banerjee's "Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!", brought her notice. But with "Gangs Of Wasseypur", her musical talent has almost achieved cult status here.

"I have always been curious about music. Music has in it the ability to elate you, depress you or motivate you. I have been inclined towards music and it is this curiosity that has led me to compose music," she said.

And being a woman never came in the way of progress for her.

"A lot of factors like age, experience and all come into play. As projects get more and more detailed, there are many things which you need to take care of... Gender is a small issue; there are so many more issues to be taken care of if you want your idea to come out correctly through your work," she said.

-Anjuri Nayar

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