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Interview Team : Kaushik L M

With the release of Thegidi this Friday, Kollywood will see the introduction of another promising young talent who has already made a splash thanks to his splendid work on the music of the movie. We are talking about composer Nivas K Prasanna, the latest sensation to have taken his first steps into the industry as a music director. In this chat with Behindwoods, Nivas talks us through his journey so far.

Tell us about your initiation to the music world and the film industry

I am basically from Thirunelveli and right from the time, I was in my 1st standard, I decided that my future would be as a music director. I took up classical singing lessons and then after my 5th standard, I started learning the piano in Thirunelveli. David Thompson was my piano master and by the time I was in my 10th standard, I completed 7 grades of music exams at the Trinity College of Music, London. Later, I did my visual communication from SRM, Chennai.

I played the keyboard for many artists and bands and was involved in many shows. I also did a non-film album titled ‘Kannamma’ in collaboration with Saindhavi and this was an attempt at presenting Bharathiyar’s songs in a manner which would appeal to the current generation of youngsters.

It was Think Music Santhosh who provided the impetus for me to compose for films when he asked me if I was interested in getting into cinema. He is an unforgettable person in my journey and always encourages us to give our best. Since, he also has a musical background and knows what would work with the audience; my interactions with him have been very fruitful.

Through Santhosh, I got leads to meet producers. I met C.V.Kumar and that’s how I got the offer to do Thegidi.

Did you imagine that Thegidi’s songs would be received so well?

I never imagined this kind of a response to my debut effort. Since this is my first film album, I delivered my best like other debut composers would, and was also confident about the quality of my work. But the reception and audience feedback was unbelievable. The vibes when I performed live at the music launch function were very good.

A lot of my friends and mentors played for my debut album and I would like to thank them all. Andrea sang without charging a single penny and my mentor Rajesh Vaidya was also involved in the album. Of course my family members have been a pillar of support in realizing my debut album.

Andrea sang without charging a single penny

The most memorable experience with respect to your work for Thegidi

Recording Shankar Mahadevan for Thegidi was an unforgettable experience. He was obviously busy when I first approached him to sing “Neethane” as the tune was perfect for his voice. I then recorded the tune in my voice and mailed him the sample. Then one morning, I received a reply mail from him expressing his interest to record the song as he was impressed with the tune. I went to Mumbai and recorded his voice. It was a great experience.

After seeing your live performance at the Thegidi audio launch function, many people felt that there could have been another version of the “Neethane” number in your voice. Did you have any such plans?

I didn’t make any special preparation to sing for Thegidi as the tune was meant to be sung by Shankar Mahadevan Sir. But to honor requests from people who wish to experience my vocal performances, I have plans to release videos of my live shows.

How much of a scope did Thegidi provide you in the BGM department? 

Thegidi is a murder mystery and the movie offers good scope for the BGM score. We have used silence at appropriate places and director Ramesh also suggested that we create the mood for the following scene with the BGM in the preceding scene. He is a task master. We have tried some interesting concepts. We not only considered the actors on screen but also the other atmospherical elements and colors in the frame, when composing the BGM score.

Are you happy with the way your songs have been visualized on screen? 

I am very pleased with the visual output. Cameraman Dinesh Krishnan has presented everything so beautifully and actors Janani and Ashok look very good on screen. 

How much improvisation happens during your recording sessions?

While recording, I would generally like to bring out what I had conceived while composing the tune. But when my musicians are able to add their inputs and better the final output, then I am always open to it. So, there is definitely scope for improvisations.

Live music or digitally processed music? What is your preference? 

I would just like to bring out the sound that is in my mind. I don’t mind whether it is live music or processed music. If it sounds good and does justice to the tune that I have in mind, then it doesn’t matter whether it is live music or digital music.

In Thegidi, the album was predominantly packed with melodies. What is your preferred genre of music and your strengths as a composer? 

I would like to try out all possible genres of music and wouldn’t like to point any particular genre as my preferred one. Composing a ‘kuthu’ number in a refined and classy manner is something that I would really like to do. 

Composing a ‘kuthu’ number in a refined manner is something that I would like to do.

What is your working pattern? Do you also prefer the night time for your composing activities like most composers do?

When it comes to my working patterns, I generally don’t work at a stretch. I take a lot of breaks in between my composing and recording sessions. But yes, working at night is preferable as it is peaceful and without much noise or disturbances.

Like other youngsters, do you also frequent pubs and does it help you gauge the youth’s tastes?

I am not much into clubbing. I have been to such a place just once. I don’t believe that you need to visit such places to know what exactly the youth like or prefer. To impress the youth, it is all about the energy and feeling in a number.

The composers whom you look up to?

I don’t have any inspirations as such. I listen to a lot of music from around the world and get inspired by a lot of musicians and scores. To react to some comments that there is a Raja Sir touch in some of my instrumentation arrangements for Thegidi, I definitely admit that there may have been some influence.

I don’t have any inspirations as such.

Your wish-list of musicians to work with

I would like to collaborate with international musicians and see how their services and skills can be used within our film music structure. 

What next after Thegidi?

I am in talks for other projects but guess they will be announced once Thegidi releases.

I hope to live up to all the expectations and goodwill that my debut work in Thegidi has generated.

Good luck Nivas