Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota music director Karan Kulkarni on designing a soundtrack as wacky as the film

Shreya Paul

Apr 02, 2019 14:49:18 IST

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota has managed to break boundaries in various fields. Whether it is storytelling, direction or music, the film seems to transcend the realm of normalcy into a zone of delicious absurdity.

The music is genre-bending and helmer Karan Kulkarni feels his love for non-conformity may be a contributing factor. Kulkarni and Vasan Bala (director of Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota) go back about nine years now, having also collaborated on Bala's short film Peddlers.

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota music director Karan Kulkarni on designing a soundtrack as wacky as the film

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota music director Karan Kulkarni

The brief for Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota's score was simple — it needed to be in context to how wacky the narrative of the film was. Multiple influences from the 1970s, '80s and '90s were brought in (not necessarily Indian though). The likes of Michael Jackson were kept in mind while creating the score. A lot of the music and sounds were inspired by martial arts films from the time as well.

"Since I'm easily bored, I’m constantly trying to create a new sound. We are all unique as individuals, so why not express that fully and show it in your creation," says Karan, referring to the large spectrum that the soundtrack covers in the film.

Karan Kulkarni. Image from Facebook

Karan Kulkarni

But to create the absurd niche for himself must have been challenging, especially since Kulkarni had to work within the limited area allowed to artistes by 'Bollywood music'. "It takes its time," Karan admits. The optimum balance between 'what is good' and 'what sells' is the key factor according to him. In fact, Karan is quite hopeful of the future — "Listeners nowadays are eager to listen to new music. The sooner ‘The powers that be’ start believing this, the more experimentation will be heard. But people are waking up to new sounds. So it’s great!"

The final songs on screen are however achieved after arduous rounds of perfecting the vocals. Auto tune and melodyne are no strangers to such fine-tuning processes. Looked down upon by many purists, these corrective measures are nonetheless inevitable, feels Kulkarni. "I think our ears have gotten used to extreme perfection and we’re always striving to make everything even better. I think the use of such software is a result of that. That said, there are a few singers who are really spot on with their pitching."

Since most of the Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota's music plays in tandem with stunts and action sequences, rhythm must have been a key feature while scoring the music. Karan attributes this feat to a constant collaboration between the music and editing departments of the film. "Fortunately, we have a very skilled director and editor working on the film, and they had a lot of things sorted out from the beginning. As musicians, you understand what the tempo of their edit is and you design the music accordingly."

'Rappan Rappi Rap' has arguably become the most popular track in the soundscape of the film, a fact which initially evoked surprise within Kulkarni. "'Tere Liye' is my personal favourite," he confesses. 'Rappan Rappi Rap' owes its spunk to yet another short film (Geek Out) that both Karan and Vasan had collaborated on. The short included a funk music piece which may have stuck on with the director since he asked for a proper funk song for Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. "In my head, I wanted a huge horn section, a slamming 4 on the floor beat and slap bass. For some reason I thought a '90s-inspired rap vocal would be interesting to blend in." Bala's idea was to essentially include generous sections of random '90s pop culture references, film names and the like — the Nirma ad ("Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma"), Star Wars' To a galaxy far far away, Back to the Future are all alluded to in 'Rappan Rappi Rap'.

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Similarly, 'Life Mein Fair Chance Kiska' (Jimmy-Mani Song) swims into the '80-'90s Bollywood space, heavily populated with SP Balasubrahmanyam songs. Karan's main idea for the track was to imbue a fusion of rock 'n roll and surf rock to the song. Suresh Triveni, Surya Ragunaathan and Veera Fauzia Saxena's vocals are perfectly complemented with Thavil (barrel-shaped percussion instrument used primarily in temple, folk and Carnatic music) sections.

In a film which keeps going back to retro Bollywood, avoiding the temptation to remix a track may have been easy for Kulkarni. That in itself was a move away from Bollywood's current obsession with remixing old classics. "Remixes or covers have been around since the beginning of time. A minstrel would listen to a song in one village and go sing his version elsewhere. I personally have nothing against it, as long as equal importance is being given to original music."

Steering away from the film space, music has been also making strong political statements in the country at an important juncture such as now (pre-Lok Sabha Election 2019), especially with the recently released 'Achhe Din Blues'. Kulkarni's take on this is rather interesting. He feels the public has started to treat music as a demand based industry and because it’s only heard by most for entertainment, people have forgotten that music can be thought-provoking too. "The 1960s in America had music that was extremely political. A lot of musicians were protesting the war in Vietnam. Music isn’t only to sing a love song or to party on. Music is for every emotion; anger, confusion, contemplation — anything you can name really."

Karan's personal favourite composer (apart from the popular choice of AR Rahman) is British-Indian composer-producer and multi-instrumentalist Nitin Sawhney, who Kulkarni has followed for years. "I love how he blends various traditional styles of music from the world into his songs, with modern production."

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota speaks to its audiences through a strong satire-based narrative. The music acts as an exemplary catalyst in the journey of the film to achieve precisely that.

(All images have been taken from Facebook)

Updated Date: Apr 02, 2019 14:49:18 IST

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