Gully Boy music supervisor Ankur Tewari on his latest EP, and mainstreaming the independent
Gully Boy's music supervisor, Ankur Tewari, revels in the quiet glory of the film's musical success
With its fevered rapping protagonist, Gully Boy may have nudged the reawakening of India's pop culture. But at the centre of this millennial-friendly phenomenon lie the film's musicians. While rappers DIVINE and Naezy have been hungrily consumed and digested by hip Indian masses, the film's music supervisor, Ankur Tewari, revels in the quiet glory of the film's musical success.
Also moonlighting as a singer-songwriter, Tewari says he did not expect the Gully Boy album to blow up the way it did. Despite having a strong foothold in acoustic sound, he released his debut electronica album, Little Whale, a month before Gully Boy's release, with Karsh Kale and Gaurav Raina. Now, that the final word on his album and the film is out, he discusses what the past year has been like, and where he intends to go from here.
What do you prefer — the stage or the studio?
Definitely the stage, for probably the first few minutes. I love the stage; I don't look forward to hitting the studio. But once I'm in the studio for a bit and I get in the zone, then I treat it just like a stage.
What's the past year been like?
The last year's been really exciting. I definitely like to revel in the moment for a moment, but move on quickly.
How did Little Whale come about?
Little Whale is a project that has been going for the past five to six years. The three of us — Gaurav, Karsh and I — live and work in different cities and our music is quite different from one another. Karsh is more keys-based and Gaurav does a lot of interesting beats. I like lyrical stuff. Whenever we'd meet, we'd talk about doing something out of our comfort zones. So we decided to go with this ambient vibe which is quite different from what Karsh and Gaurav usually do. I decided to do vocals in a falsetto which is not my normal singing voice. We brought in words which don't really mean anything.
Did you expect the Gully Boy album to receive the kind of response it has?
I didn't have any idea that it would blow up the way it did. I was hoping that it did this well. We were so busy making the album that we didn't have the time to think of the result. We worked on the music for two years with many artists and everyone, right from the beat makers to rappers to the beat boxers, everyone put so much heart and soul into.
You've mentioned in earlier interviews that you like to eavesdrop on conversations...
I do eavesdrop on other people's conversations. I often find myself sitting in an Irani cafe in Bandra where you share tables. I love those restaurants because you end up sitting with complete strangers, and you do end up listening to their stories and conversations, And they do end up becoming minute parts of different songs.
What's more fulfilling - composing for films or making independent music?
I think making songs that you believe in is fulfilling. Even in the independent scene, if you end up making a song just for the sake of it, it will never be a fulfilling experience. I don't like to classify music. Sometimes it's better for a song to stay in an independent zone and sometimes it's better for it release in the mass medium. It's high time we stopped dividing music as independent and mainstream. There should just be good music.
I've supervise the music for an Amazon show, Made In Heaven. I'm also working with Sooni Taraporevala on her next film, and there are a few more project in the pipeline. It's an exciting time.
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