When math met ragas

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | GAUTAM SUNDER
Published May 14, 2016, 12:00 am IST
Updated May 14, 2016, 12:17 am IST
The musical score of Man Who Knew Infinity has been highly praised — and a team of Chennaiites are rightly earning due credit for it.
Sai
 Sai

British drama The Man Who Knew Infinity has opened to terrific reviews worldwide, from critics and audiences alike, who have been mesmerised by the saga of mathematician genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. Apart from the accuracy of the storytelling, another feature  that’s come in for appreciation from all corners is the magnificent background score by Coby Brown — but did you know that all the Indian aspects were produced here in namma Chennai?

That’s right; music producer, tabla player, sound recordist and engineer Sai Shravanam — known for his work on Life of Pi  — is the man behind assembling a team of musicians together, to come up with a rousing ‘south Indian classical’ score for many portions that capture Ramanujan’s connection with his Tamil roots.

 

With flautist Vishnu Vijay, veena player Bhavani Prasad, percussionist Ganapathy, Sunder on morsing, and Saroja on dilruba, Sai accentuated Brown’s music to inspiring levels — and has rightly earned recognition.

Sai Shravanam, music producer:
I have to thank my mentor Jeff Rothschild, for the  meeting with music producer Justin Stanley in L.A, which led to this project. Coby Brown was a pleasure to work with. The idea was to give the international audience a taste of south Indian classical music, as many are exposed to music from north India or Bollywood only. Ramanujan is from Kumbakonam, so we  incorporated authentic sounds of instruments like the flute, mridangam, ghatam and so on, over the Western score to give it the essence we need. We engineered the music as well, right here in our city.

I have visited the theaters around six times now, and each time we left to a standing ovation! The audience was moved, and director Matthew Brown has done an amazing job. Music opens up several avenues, and we are happy our contribution has been highlighted on a global platform.

I have sung in some portions of the movie set in India (Ramanujam’s village), where the female lead is present and the end credit roll; I’m thankful to Sai Shravanam for making me a part of this score. It felt absolutely wonderful to hear my voice in a movie such as The Man Who Knew Infinity.

The Indian music in the movie is beautifully and elegantly carved and I’m really happy that I got to sing in such a lovely score. Our Indian culture and music is innately so lush and beautiful. When expressed tastefully in such contexts, its beauty stands out all the more!

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