Songs for Midnight’s Children

Canada-based Samidha Joglekar is the voice behind the lilting background score of Deepa Mehta's latest film

A few years ago, Samidha Joglekar's Indo-Jazz ensemble was selected to open for celebrated composer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Nitin Sawhney, at a music festival in Toronto. Joglekar, who had been training in Indian classical music since the age of 10, listening to varied genres of music on the radio and poring over bandishes in Bhatkhande books, was used to cheering crowds. What she had not factored into her music plans was a project as huge as Midnight's Children — Deepa Mehta's film based on the Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name by Salman Rushdie.

The film may not have intertwined Rushdie's magic realism and historical fiction as coherently as the critics would have liked, but the soundtrack of the film creates several special moments, especially Prem jogan ban ke — the background score to lead couple Shiva and Parvati's

intimacy. Sung by Canada-based Joglekar, the song forms an integral part of the film's musical oeuvre.

"It was a lovely experience working with such exceptionally talented, intellectual, and accomplished individuals. I admired Deepa and Nitin for their accomplishments before I even met them. I knew the book as a milestone in literature and once in the studio, I was given descriptions of the scenes for which I had to provide the vocals and had to approach it with an open mind," says Joglekar, who has trained under illustrious thumri singer, Prabha Atre.

The track by Joglekar is inspired by its original — a thumri Prem jogan ban ke in raga Sohini, a haunting melody by legendary musician Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in K Asif's Mughal-e-Azam (1960). Khan's deep voice in the film for Tansen's character was a cinematic feat.

Joglekar was aware of the legend behind the score she was about to perform. According to film lore, Khan, a staunch purist, was vehemently opposed to the idea of singing in the movies. Music composer Naushad and Asif, on the other hand, were determined to enlist him as a playback for their epic project — no other performer, they were sure, could do justice to the voice of Tansen.

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