Amrit Pritam Dutta, the eminent sound designer officially started his career as a sound designer with the first Indian film which entered the 100 crore mark, Ghajini. Later he did movies like Ra.One, Kick, PK, Kaabil, Highway etc to name a few.
Q. What is the difference between a sound designer, a composer and a music director?
A. Sound designer means he is the director of the sound. This means that he is going to take all the responsibilities of sound in terms of music and noise that is required for a film including dialogues, folly, nat sound, ambience noise, and all other kinds of sound including background score and songs.
When it comes to a music director, there are two kinds- one who does songs for a film and the other who does music and background score for films. At a particular time, the same music director can do both. Like in the case of AR Rahman, he creates music, songs, and the background score as well, and in fact, he even sings for the same movie.
Composers, on the other hand, are people who compose music. For instance, a music director explains the pattern of a song to a composer, if he wants a certain symphony or instrument to be used the composer does it for the music director.
We get artistic and aesthetic satisfaction when we do regional movies. This is where we get complete freedom and can go to any level of imagination when we do regional movies. Most of these regional movies are now representing India in various film festivals across the globe. That’s the reason why it is our responsibility to support regional cinema.
Q. How do you look at a script and sense where music should fit in?
A. While reading a script, certain ideas come to our mind. We write down what kind of sound is required for that particular scene.
Q. How much time does it take for you to design sounds for a film?
A. Each and every film takes its own time. But usually, it’s between 3 to 9 months.
Q. You have been a part of numerous Bollywood movies and at the same time, you’re also doing regional cinema and documentaries. How different are Bollywood and Regional Movies in terms of sound designing?
A. We get artistic and aesthetic satisfaction when we do regional movies. This is where we get complete freedom and can go to any level of imagination when we do regional movies. Most of these regional movies are now representing India in various film festivals across the globe. That’s the reason why it is our responsibility to support regional cinema.
Indeed a great moment for me and one of the best things that happened in my entire career. After spending about 15 years in the industry, I have received such a great invitation, so now I am finally a member of the Oscars and I have a right to vote.
In Bollywood, most of the films that come out are for a commercial purpose. Those movies are for a different kind of audience. Movies like PK, Kick, Kaabil, or even Highway all have a different set of audience and we have to design the sound with a distinctive approach and perspective keeping in mind the kind of audiences these Bollywood films cater to.
Q. Your films ‘Village Rockstars‘ and ‘Ishu‘ are creating a lot of buzz in the festival circuits. In terms of sound designing how different are the two films?
A. Both of the movies are regional films and both are small budget movies that don’t have any money in terms of production value. But both are aesthetically rich. Village Rockstars has various time periods in the film. It has winter, monsoon, flood, and also the situation after the floods. So lots of natural changes can be seen within a film. And when nature changes sound also changes. Since Village Rockstar is very raw, I tried to create a very raw and realistic sound for the film.
Whereas in Ishu, we have used a background score, which is not present in Village Rockstar, and it doesn’t have music. Since there’s background score in Ishu, I had to balance the sound and design it along with the music so that both the sound and music can dissolve together and enhance the situation to another level.
Q. How is the software and hardware that are used in Bollywood different from the regional films?
A. We’re using the same technology and same working platform for both Bollywood and Regional cinema. We use pro-tools, which is a Mac-based software for our sound.
Q. You are a name behind movies like Ra.One, PK, Kaabil and numerous Bollywood projects. Which is the first Bollywood movie that you have worked in and which is your all-time-favourite movie that you had your contributions in?
A. I started my career way back in 2002 as a sound editor. I started with foley editing, ambience and effects editing. I have been designing sound since 2004 but I can’t really choose which because my name in the credits did not appear as a sound designer, it came as a sound editor. My first official movie is Ghajini, where my name appeared as a sound designer on the credit list. I’ve been doing sounds with Resul Pookuty who is an Academy Award winner. We are partners, we work together and have been doing lots of projects. As a sound designer, I have done over 100 movies and approximately 30 small documentaries. One of my favourite projects that I have been involved in is a Malayalam film called Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja. The movie was based on a story which was set in 1795. There were lots of action sequences in the movie, which involved arrow and gun fighting with the British. So that was one of the toughest films I have ever done as far as regional movies are concerned. And this movie also gave me a National Award.
Q.You mentioned Resul Pookuty, and you’ve also mentioned the Oscars. You are also a part of the Academy (Oscar) member now.
A. Indeed a great moment for me and one of the best things that happened in my entire career. After spending about 15 years in the industry, I have received such a great invitation, so now I am finally a member of the Oscars and I have a right to vote.
Q. From sound designer, you are now turning into a producer for a movie titled ZOO, which is backed by Anurag Kashyap and is directed by Shlok Sharma.
A. Shlok is a very close friend of mine and we started our career at the same time. So when Shlok approached me and asked if I can do the film, which he shot using an iPhone. I asked him to show me whatever he has shot, and when I saw the clips I was very interested and couldn’t believe that it was shot using an iPhone. And then I agreed to do the film. Since Shlok told me that it has a very minimalistic budget for the film, I agreed to be the executive producer of the movie, and also did the sounds.
Watch here: Trailer of Village Rockstar
Watch here: Trailer of ISHU