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Behind the success of ‘Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya’

Like vintage wine, the music of Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya (GGBB) — the animated feature film in Hindi based on Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury’s classic, Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne — has a texture that is earthy, balanced and immersive.

“We must tell you that the music began brewing in our heads nearly eight years ago,” says Narayan Parasuram of the band, Three Brothers and a Violin, who composed the film’s music. Narayan, and his brothers — Sriram and Viswanath — have earned rave reviews for their music, which critics say adds an impish lustre, making GGBB the perfect way of introducing children to Satyajit Ray’s films.

The Chennai-based band — only Narayan divides his time between Mumbai and the city — hopes more people listen to the music crafted for this film directed by Shilpa Ranade.

Produced by Children’s Film Society India in collaboration with Karadi Tales, it tells a simple but layered story of two wise fools, a singer and a drummer, who are inept but clearly passionate about their music, and end up becoming soul-mates.

Sriram Parasuram (L), C P Viswanath (C) and Narayan Parasuram (R), members of the band ‘Three Brothers and a Violin’

Sriram Parasuram (L), C P Viswanath (C) and Narayan Parasuram (R), members of the band ‘Three Brothers and a Violin’
 
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Special Arrangement

Sriram, who is an acclaimed Hindustani classical vocalist and a violinist, says that GGBB was an interesting project.

“Since it was an animation film, in terms of making music, the sound design precedes visual design. That means the role of the music is crucial and, in many ways, the starting point for the visual choreography,” he says.

The heart and soul of the film is its music, but the beauty is that the score is constructed with a consciousness true to the characters and their quirks, letting the layered poetry sparkle, and allowing people to reflect upon the film’s overarching philosophy, which is to choose peace over war in a world filled with strife and disaster.

Opening and ending with the ragam Mohanam (raag Bhoopali in the Hindustani pantheon), the 80-minute film comprises eight songs — ‘Main Hoon Naada’, ‘Bhor Bhayee’, ‘Shundi ke Raja ko Salaam’ and ‘Ghee Mein Ho Paancho Ungliya’ among others.

A still from the film ‘Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya’ by Shilpa Ranade

A still from the film ‘Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya’ by Shilpa Ranade
 
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

These songs are not merely supportive of the narrative, says Viswanath, who, alongside his partner and Narayan, is a co-founder of Karadi Tales. “(The songs) are the narrative and allow the audience to segue from one scene to another.” The decision to make songs as an extension of the dialogues was “deliberate”, the brothers aver. “It is the essence of Indian storytelling tradition,” says Sriram, citing examples like Chakyar Koothu and Kavad Katha.

Many of the songs will stay in your mind much after the film. “Ghee Mein Ho Paancho Ungliya”, in particular, which is all about laddoos. “The protagonists sing the peace songs in ragas Shankara, Des and finally in Malhaar, when it starts raining laddoos,” explains Narayan.

The brothers — who have 100 albums over two decades to their name — believe that their approach to making music is “creating content for ourselves primarily with all the integrity we can muster”. It is like a song from GGBB — ‘Hum to Bas Nachenge Gaayenge’ — and nothing else matters!

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