Not just musician but also businessman

Gopi Sunder is frank when it comes to the way the music industry works
If you count from 2006, this will be Gopi Sunder’s 10th year of making music for films. That was the year Notebook came out and Rosshan Andrrews had called him to compose the background score for the film. But Gopi would cringe if you start telling his story from this point. There were many years of hard work before that, years he counts most significant, working as a programmer, under a mentor like Ouseppachan.
It began when he was 17 and his dad took him to his old classmate and musician Ouseppachan, who was then composing for Aniyathipravu, and left Gopi under his care. For 14 years, he stayed with his mentor. Today, as he makes music for more than 20 films a year in various languages, Gopi stays rooted, and not afraid to be quite honest about his work, readily admitting to some of the allegations against it.He is in Hyderabad now, composing for a couple of Telugu films. His work in the films Bale Bale Magadivoy and Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju made him so popular that media said he hijacked Tollywood. Now, he is composing for a film starring Nagarjuna and Karthi, and another of Raj Tarun. There are a couple of Tamil movies after that, and five Malayalam films in progress. Two of these — Ennu Ninte Moideen and Urumbukal Urangarilla — are gearing up for release.
Gopi did the background score and composed one song for Ennu Ninte Moideen. “It is a Hindu-Muslim love story, so I could use two different aspects of music, two cultures. I have used the bamboo sax and veena,” he says.
Urumbukal Urangarilla is a story of thieves, a story telling why they engage in the act. Gopi listens to all the scripts and accepts every one he likes. He doesn’t give himself any kind of limit, so ends up composing for 20 or more films every year.
“Moideen, for instance, is special. It is a real-life story and one of the characters — Kanchanamala — is living before us,” he says. He watches his Telugu movies too. In Tollywood, however, he has not yet attempted making an actor sing. That’s happened a lot in Malayalam, his latest being Dulquer Salmaan singing for Charlie.
“Artistes who play the characters know exactly what emotion and expression the song demands,” he says. Despite many experiments, Gopi has still not made Yesudas or Sujatha sing his songs. “I haven’t yet made a song that will justify using their voice, take it to the masses the way Olanjali Kuruvi — sung by Vani Jayaram and P Jayachandran — did.”
Right now he is getting S. Janaki to sing a lullaby for him for the film Puli Murugan. Gopi continues to make background scores as much as he does song compositions. “Background scores are always more challenging.”
Among his new works is also the music for the Tamil version of Bangalore Days. It will be new songs, different from the Malayalam movie, the ones that had brought about an accusation that Gopi copied his music. He has always agreed he does it. “Sometimes situations demand you to do that, someone may ask you to make a song like another. So then I do it in a way that is legally allowed — by changing notations. It is not that I enjoy it, no musician who knows to create his own music would want to do it.”
He, Gopi stresses throughout the interview, is a businessman and musician. He has been very clear about what he wanted to do since he was a schoolchild — make music for films. So, even as he wishes to make music based on Carnatic music, he has to wait for a movie that demands it. “There is no space for such movies these days; I mean, movies with purely Carnatic music... the kind that let Johnson master and Ravindran master bring out such beautiful music.”
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