Working on ‘Rocket Boys’ Was Tougher Than ‘Scam 1992’ Music Composer Achint Thakkar
By Radhika Sharma
New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) 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 endeavors of Indian nuclear physicists Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai between 1940 and 1960.
Directed by debut director Abhay Pannu, the show begins with a catchy yet haunting score by Thakkar that sets the tone for his exploration of politics, nation-building, and the destruction wrought by war and nuclear energy in a newly independent India.
The 31-year-old composer said it took him a while to decipher the music for ‘Rocket Boys’ because of the ‘epic’ quality of the series and the timing in which it took place.
“It was harder than ‘Scam’ because I was in my comfort zone at the time. It was more modern than ‘Rocket Boys’ musically. I could use a lot of stuff in ‘Scam’, that I usually 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 relying on electronic music, his comfort zone.
“We had musicians playing live in the studio. There were a lot of instruments recorded here. A lot of ‘Scam’ was electronic music, which is more in my comfort zone. So ‘Rocket Boys’ was a challenge but a great learning experience too.”
Asked if the popularity of “Scam 1992” helped him land “Rocket Boys,” the guitarist-producer isn’t sure. “I think so,” he replied after a moment.
The theme for “Scam 1992”, directed by Hansal Mehta and performed by Pratik Gandhi, has over 26 million views on YouTube alone.
Harshvir Oberai, who filmed “Rocket Boys” and has been good friends with Thakkar since his Mithibai College days, suggested his name to Pannu.
“It was a lot of fun working with Abhay. He was quite open to any ideas that I would throw at him. We were jamming most of the time. There wasn’t really a brief so to speak. He just asked me to make it my As soon as I read the script he wrote, I was in love with it. It’s just a matter of reacting to the script. Big credit also goes to Abhay for taking charge of this. He’s a really gifted storyteller and a great collaborator.”
The recording artist said he boarded ‘Rocket Boys’ in December 2020, but focused on the final cut last week, just in time for the show to begin airing at from February 4.
“My work towards the end was pretty quick…in the last 40-45 days (before the show aired). I had December and January to work on the final cut. We made sure to be satisfied with the music before we sent the show.”
“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 the role of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Saba Azad, KC Shankar and Namit Das also play key roles.
The series uses a mix of Indian and Western classical music, including Tchaikovsky, Bach and Mozart, to give a sound to India at the time.
“Abhay was also very keen on us keeping the score, especially Vikram and Mrinalini, like that because she was a Bharatanatyam dancer and he was much more grounded.
“We actually don’t use that (music) for Homi. Homi was way more flamboyant and he had more of that colonial hangover. That’s why it was important to juxtapose that they were fresh out of British rule at that time.”
Before breaking into the “mainstream” music scene with “Scam 1992”, Thakkar released his album “Shalimar” in 2015 and the 2018 collaboration “Achint & The Khan Brothers”.
Also the founder of the psychedelic rock band Rosemary, he previously assisted famed commercials composer Michael McCleary on two seasons of the Prime Video series “Four More Shots Please!”
Thakkar, who cut his musical teeth around the age of 12, said he did his own study for “Rocket Boys,” which involved listening to veteran violinist L Shankar and music composer AR Rahman.
“I’ve heard L Shankar and AR Rahman a lot. I’ve listened to his ‘Swades’, ‘Dil Se..’ or some of his amazing scores. Every time I watch one of his (Rahman’s) movies, it’s like going to school for me. I also listen to Tchaikovsky and Beethoven to get in the zone. Listening to these guys I feel how they did it, it’s riyaaz (training).
Next up for the composer is the second season of Vasan Bala’s “Rocket Boys” and “Monica, O My Darling,” a Netflix movie. PTI RDS BK