New Delhi: Music composer Achint Thakkar, whose name is synonymous with the viral theme of ”Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story”, is now aiming for a mark beyond the sky with his work in ”Rocket Boys”.
The first season of ”Rocket Boys”, a SonyLIV original web series, follows the life and efforts of Indian nuclear physicists Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai between 1940 and 1960.
Helmed by first-time director Abhay Pannu, the show begins with a rousing yet haunting score by Thakkar that sets the tone for its exploration of politics, nation building, and destruction caused by war and nuclear power in a newly-independent India.
The 31-year-old composer said it took him a while to crack the music for ”Rocket Boys” because of the show’s ”epic”-like quality and the time it was set in.
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”It was more challenging than ‘Scam’ because I was in my comfort zone at that time. It was more modern than ‘Rocket Boys’ musically. I could use a lot of tricks in ‘Scam’, which I generally use, but ‘Rocket Boys’ was a show where I couldn’t do that,” added.
Mumbai-born Thakkar said he had to go ”old school”, which meant arranging a lot of actual compositions rather than taking help from electronic music, his comfort zone. ”We had musicians playing live in the studio. There were a lot of live instruments recorded here. A lot of ‘Scam’ was electronic music, which is more of my comfort zone. So, ‘Rocket Boys’ was a challenge but a nice learning experience also.” Asked whether the popularity of ”Scam 1992” helped him bag ”Rocket Boys”, the guitarist-producer is unsure. ”I think so,” he replied after a beat.
The theme of ”Scam 1992”, directed by Hansal Mehta and fronted by Pratik Gandhi, has over 26 million views on YouTube alone.
Harshvir Oberai, who has lensed ”Rocket Boys” and is a good friend of Thakkar’s from their Mithibai College days, suggested his name to Pannu.
”It was great fun to work with Abhay. He was pretty open to any ideas that I would throw at him. We would jam for most of the time. There was no real brief so to say. He just asked me to make it my own. As soon as I read the script he had written, I was in love with it. It’s just a matter of reacting to the script. A lot of credit should also go to Abhay for taking this on. He’s a really gifted storyteller and a really good collaborator.” The recording artiste said he boarded ”Rocket Boys” in December 2020, but he zeroed in on the final edit last week, just in time for the show to start streaming from February 4.
”My work towards the end was pretty quick… in the last 40-45 days (before the airing of the show). I had December and January to work on the final edit. We made sure we were happy with the music before we sent the show out.” ”Rocket Boys” stars Jim Sarbh as Bhabha, Ishwak Singh as Sarabhai, Regina Cassandra as Bharatanatyam icon and Dr Sarabhai’s wife Mrinalini Sarabhai, and Rajit Kapur as Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian prime minister. Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Saba Azad, KC Shankar, and Namit Das also star in key roles.
The series uses a mix of Indian and Western Classical music, including Tchaikovsky, Bach and Mozart, to give sound to the India of the time.
”Abhay was also very keen that we keep the score, especially Vikram and Mrinalini, like that because she was a Bharatanatyam dancer and he was way more rooted. ”We don’t use that (music) for Homi actually. Homi was way more flamboyant and he’s got more of that colonial hangover. Which is why it was important to juxtapose that they were freshly out of British rule at that time.” Before he broke onto the ‘mainstream’ music scene with ”Scam 1992”, Thakkar came out with his album ‘Shalimar’ in 2015 and 2018’s collaboration ‘Achint & The Khan Brothers’. Also the founder of the psychedelic rock band Rosemary, he previously assisted renowned ad film composer Michael McCleary for two seasons of Prime Video series ”Four More Shots Please!” Thakkar, who cut his musical teeth when was around 12, said he did his own study for ”Rocket Boys” which involved listening to veteran violinist L Shankar and music composer A R Rahman.
”I heard a lot of L Shankar and AR Rahman. I listened to his ‘Swades’, ‘Dil Se..’ or some of his amazing scores. Every time, I watch any of his (Rahman’s) movies, it’s like going to school for me. I also listen to Tchaikovsky and Beethoven to get into the zone. Listening to those guys, I feel how they did it, that’s riyaaz (practice).” Next up for the composer is the second season of ”Rocket Boys” and Vasan Bala’s ”Monica, O My Darling”, a Netflix film.