Alokananda Dasgupta On Entering The Scoring Club And Creating The Music For ‘Sacred Games’
- IWB Post
- September 4, 2019
The first Indian original series produced by Netflix, Sacred Games has taken the art industry by a storm. Right from its engaging plot to its power packed star cast, everything about the series is being appreciated.
Composed by Alokananda Dasgupta, the powerful score of Sacred Games has been garnering special accolades though. The music flows with the pace of the series, adds to the impact and lingers even after you have finished watching it.
Recently A.R. Rahman took to Twitter to laud Alokananda’s work for the series. Here is Rahman’s tweet:
Dear @AlokanandaD , welcome to the scoring club and congratulations on a very interesting score & mix for #SacredGames
In a recent interaction with Scroll, Alokananda talked about her Bollywood journey, the praise that she has been receiving and the process of making the music for Sacred Games.
Here are excerpts from the interaction:
On starting her music career with Amit Trivedi
Sharing how she embarked on her Bollywood musical journey, Alokananda said, “My musical career began because of the song Ha Raham, from Aamir.”
“When I heard Ha Raham, I instantly fell in love with the song and wanted to come down to India to work with him. I realised there is room for me in this space because till then, I could not identify with Bollywood,” she added.
Thus after returning to Kolkata post her graduation in 2009, she got Amit’s number from a friend and gave him a call. She says, “I did not call anyone else. I told him I studied music, I loved Ha Raham, I want to help you out. And soon I began working with him.”
On being appreciated for Sacred Games
Alokananda says, “It feels very rewarding to be appreciated for the score [of Sacred Games] everywhere. But I am full of constant self-doubt. I always think all this is temporary and that people are probably lying. I am most critical of my own work. Recently, I was watching episode four with a friend, and I asked her to stop it. I could hear everything wrong with the track.”
“Ultimately, if my work is loved by people whose taste in film, music, painting or food I appreciate, irrespective of what their relation is to me, then I get confidence. I will say that I am just happy that I could successfully figure out the soundscape of a series like Sacred Games,” she adds.
On the making of Sacred Games’ background score
“The opening theme was the first thing I scored long before any visual was in place. For me, the opening theme should be a summary of the series, like we did precis writing in school,” says Alokananda.
In the beginning, she was quite nervous as she had no visuals and was working on a short deadline. She says, “Vikram [Vikramaditya Motwane] and I were constantly throwing ideas at each other. I would send a song or a piece of music to him, and he would give his feedback.”
Finally, they came to the idea that the “theme should have a religious connotation but it shouldn’t remind one of any particular religion.”
She shares, “I thought of making it like an almost pagan thing. Then I had the idea of an ominous chant. What you hear in the theme is gibberish. It is not Arabic, Persian, anything of that sort. It’s something I hummed and then got the vocalist to record. The chant was the skeleton to which I added the flesh to make it sound ethnic, the cello, particularly, which is my instrument of choice.”
Here is the opening score of Sacred Games:
Here’s a breakdown of our #MotionGraphics process for the animated portions of the Sacred Games title sequence.
Talking about the music that she composed for the episodes, she says, “For the episodes [of Sacred Games], though, I had visuals. I got plenty of time for episodes one and two, but the work on the final six had to be rushed. Once you crack the code of the series and you know the zone in which the story exists, you find the momentum and the work becomes easier. I had the constant fear that I was not finding the zone correctly. By the end, though, I was so neck-deep into Sacred Games, that everything just clicked.”
“Sacred Games was the first project that I loved watching more than I loved scoring. When I got the visuals of Sacred Games, I realised that this is something I would love to binge on. So when I was watching it [the rough cut] without music, I thought about how I would want it to sound,” she shares.
She adds, “My favourite piece of music from the score happens right at the beginning and then at the end.”
“The zone of Sacred Games cannot be explained in words. For me, it was like a warped child of something dark, criminal, funny, and yet underneath it all, there was some truth. I did not think that this needs to sound like Narcos [the Netflix series] or Fargo [the FX series] or something. This series was right up my alley. It had emptiness, pathos, poignancy, deaths and yet there was a bigger truth to it all which I kept scratching to find,” says Alokananda.