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Interview Team : Kaushik L M

Starting his film career as Navin Iyer – the flutist, and transitioning to Arrora – the composer of the much appreciated Kalyana Samayal Saadham, it has been quite a journey for this talented youngster.  In this conversation with Kaushik, we find out more about Arrora ... 

How it all started 

I started learning flute from the tender age of 5, thanks to my mother’s initiative. N. Kesi was my master and she lived close by. Actually I was taken to her first when I was 3 and 4 too, but my master felt I was too young and that my finger would go inside the flute’s holes. I learned for about 1.5 years with her and went on to learn Carnatic music from other acclaimed masters like T.V.Gopalakrishnan and K.V.Ramanujam.

Around my 10th, I got exposed to western music influences and then learned Western flute music from a master named Balakrishnan. I also learnt Western keyboard.

I used to participate in lot of competitions during my college days and won a lot in the best instrumentalist category. Judges were really impressed and recommended me to many music directors. That’s how Rahman sir gave me an opportunity during my college days itself. Rang De Basanti was my first exposure to the film world and I played the flute for the film’s RR and also the ‘Luka Chupi’ song.

I have played for all the acclaimed composers such as Rahman, GV Prakash, Vidyasagar, Dheena, Joshua Sridhar and of course Yuvan, Harris and many more.

I have also dabbled in singing for other composers and will always be open to singing too.

My master felt I was too young and that my finger would go inside the flute’s holes.


The transition from musician to music composer 

I was personally interested in composing even as I was playing the flute for other composers. I wanted to explore further and see what I could offer to a film as a composer beyond being just a musician. It started with ads for many prominent brands and this caught on slowly and led me to films.


The great bond with GV

Myself, GV and Saindhavi used to play for the same troupe and I’ve known him since my school, college days when we used to participate at the same competitions. I played for his first album Veyyil in 2006, just when I was also getting into the film world as a flutist.

There were continuous flute and piano based themes in many GV albums like Madrasapattinam, Deiva Thirumagal and Thaandavam and this gave me a lot of recognition as I was involved in all his efforts as a composer.

I am very close to GV and have collaborated with him in most of his albums till date. My recording sessions with GV are pure fun. There is lots of chatting and good quality work too.

My recording sessions with GV are pure fun


The happy KSS experience 

I am very happy with the reception to my debut album, Kalyana Samayal Saadham (KSS). Mella Sirithai’s response in the online space was terrific. All this took some time to sink in.

Director RS Prasanna has very good music knowledge and taste and even my producers were well-versed in music. I am lucky to have associated with such people in my first film.

RS gave a lot of inputs even during the film’s RR and was happy with my extra inputs and initiatives too. If he is open to it, I am always ready to work with him on all his future films too.

The reception to the film’s BGM was also good when it was released online in YouTube. Good music bits from the film’s BGM score were recognized and appreciated by people after the BGM released.

I must also thank Santhosh Kumar of Think Music (who released the music of KSS). He encourages good music and is a very good judge of talent. He unearths good musicians and I am very happy to be associated with Think Music.

I share a good rapport with all the musicians in the industry. They have all contributed to my debut album and I owe them big thanks.


KSS was predominantly about melodies. What can we expect from your future albums? 

My USP is not just melody. My next film, Mohanlal sir’s Peruchazhi directed by Arun Vaidyanathan, will be fully commercial. I wish to explore in all genres – be it a horror movie like Pizza, a peppy romance film etc. Diverse genres will bring out diverse skill sets from within me.

There will be 4 tunes in Peruchazhi, which is based on politics and also has comedy and action. My second film is with such a big star like Mohanlal sir and I really thank Arun for this huge opportunity, and for placing confidence in me. I am composing music for this film as a fan ... Lal is a superstar.

Arun is fully involved in the music process and discusses a lot. I am aware of his working style thanks to KSS and it is very comfortable with him.

I am composing music for this film as a fan ... Lal is a superstar.


What is your USP as a composer?

Being a flute player, I have a great ear for melody and for composing new tunes. I also love the rhythm section and my future albums would be rhythm-heavy. So, new tunes and rhythm are my USPs


The kind of music that you listen to …

I listen to a lot of World music, a lot of Bollywood film music and also the works of people like Yanni.


What is your general working time? 

I am wide awake and buzzing from 8 am to 11 pm. After 11, my engine switches off (laughs). 


Do you have an extensive tune bank ready with you? 

I do have a tune bank of about 80 to 100 tunes. I’ll improvise based on these ideas and use them later in any form. One shouldn’t miss such sparks. We have to be ready to impress directors with our quick ideas.

New tunes and ideas can strike at any time and we need to record that moment of inspiration. I record a lot in my phone. For example, a little BGM in ‘Mella Sirithai’ struck me when I was waiting in the Nungambakkam signal. I recorded it ASAP because we tend to forget such things in a hurry.

A little BGM in ‘Mella Sirithai’ struck me when I was waiting in the Nungambakkam signal.


About music composing and discussions in exotic locales 

I haven’t gone on such exotic composing and discussion trips yet. So I don’t know for sure how it works. But when we go to a new place, some freshness would definitely come in. Creativity would crop in and new thoughts would flow.


How different is working in ads compared to films? 

Ads are totally different from films, the mindset is really different. Ad film directors work on a tight deadline and music is the last chain in a long line of activities. Deadlines are tight and work pressure is immense. I have done about 50 to 60 ad film jingles and they have been enjoyable despite the tight workloads.


The albums of your contemporaries that you really enjoyed recently 

I really enjoyed Kadal and Maryan from Rahman sir. Santhosh Narayanan’s Cuckoo, GV’s Raja Rani and of course standalone numbers like ‘Kaasu Panam’ are strong favorites.

I know Santhosh from our formative years in the industry and we have had great days. He used to be a programmer and I used to be a musician. We used to chill out and also do good work during out recording trips and sessions.

Anirudh’s work is impressive too.


The artists that you wish to collaborate with

Gaana Bala is doing great, so is Anthony Dasan. I would love to work with them and also great singers from the North such as Sonu Nigam. Of course, Bombay Jayashri with whom I have collaborated on many concerts and albums, is one of my strong favorites. There is a sea of music talent out there and if I work with all of them, I would automatically sustain for 100 odd films.


Your wish list of actors and directors to work with

I have a big wish list of actors. I wish to do mass music for Thalaivar Rajini. But I have to reach lofty heights to earn such opportunities.

Working with Mani sir, Shankar sir, Selvaraghavan sir would be out of the world.

And young directors are now coming up with new, wacky ideas. Irrespective of success, they come up with bold ideas. I wish to collaborate with all of them.

Working with Mani sir, Shankar sir, Selvaraghavan sir would be out of the world

Some misconceptions about me ... 

People think that Arrora is someone from the North, considering my name. I have strong roots in Tamil Nadu since long and I can say I am a son of the Tamil soil.

There is also a perception that Arrora is someone who can only deliver melodies and classical ‘raaga’ based music. I can deliver any type of music and do justice based on the genre and milieu of the film.

I can also work in a North Madras based film. I am open to any kind of genre, particularly village based films.




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