Nilotpal Bora’s music takes you to the lush green valleys of Assam. The composer, who cites his home state as a major source of his inspiration, has composed songs for several popular web shows including’TVF’s Aspirants’, ‘Tripling Season 2’, ‘Yeh Meri Family’ and ‘Saas Bahu Achaar Pvt Ltd’. Recently, a song composed by him from the Netflix original film ‘Jaadugar’ was selected as the anthem for Indian athletes at the Commonwealth Games.
In this interview, the music composer talks about his journey from Assam to Mumbai, experiences in the music industry, how the digital revolution has opened up opportunities for composers, upcoming projects and more.
‘Shaabash’, a song from the soundtrack that you had put together for the Netflix original film ‘Jaadugar’ was chosen as the anthem for Indian athletes at the Commonwealth Games this year. What, do you think, made the authorities choose this particular track?
The film featured a football team that always plays well but does not end up winning any of the matches. However, even when they lose, the audience cheers for them for their indomitable spirit and the way they played the game. That’s what sportsmanship is all about. Even if somebody doesn’t win a medal, they should be praised for their efforts. The song celebrates the spirit of sports. I guess that made the authorities choose it as the anthem for Indian athletes at the Commonwealth Games.
What was your reaction when you got to know about it?
I was extremely happy. I made this song for the film and didn’t expect something of this sort to happen. I became very emotional upon receiving this news. It was a huge honour for me.
You put together the entire soundtrack for ‘Jaadugar’. The songs complemented the narrative of the film very well and worked well as standalone audio tracks as well. How was the process of working on this film?
I had worked with director Sameer Saxena on a couple of projects in the past. ‘Yeh Meri Family’ was the first project we worked on. I composed the song ‘Dhaaga’ for the show. ‘Dhaaga’ was used again in ‘TVF’s Aspirants’ and reached out to a much wider audience because of the show. Sameer sir had heard some of my Assamese songs and liked them. When we met for the first time, he told me that my music sounds very organic and different. I also worked on Triplings Season 2’ with him.
You had worked on many shows produced by The Viral Fever or TVF.
Yes! Working with them has been a brilliant experience. They have always shown a lot of faith in me and that’s one of the reasons why I feel so comfortable working with them. Whenever they ask me to make a song, they don’t look for multiple options. Every single song that I composed for them was the first option given to them by me.
‘Ishq Ka Haafiz’ from ‘Tripling Season 2’ has been one of your most appreciated songs.
It was quite a challenge for me to compose this song. In Assam, qawalli is not a very popular genre. Though I had heard a bunch of them, I had not studied this particular genre very closely. I was humbled to see the song receiving so much love from the listeners. Even today, I get a lot of messages for it. The song had some brilliant lyrics written by Hussain Haidry.
You have largely composed for shows and films released on streaming platforms. Do you think the rise of OTT platforms has helped many young composers like you come to the forefront?
It has resulted in more opportunities for musicians for sure. Now, more albums are being produced for shows and films made for OTT platforms. Unfortunately, the music of OTT films and shows is not promoted as much as film soundtracks. However, things are improving and in the recent past, one has seen the music of some OTT shows and films being promoted pretty well. In the near future, I am hopeful that music made for digital shows and films will be promoted more aggressively. Since most of the content on OTT platforms is very good, making music for these shows and films is a creatively satisfying process. I have been working in the digital streaming space right from the time it came to India.
You grew up in Jorhat, a city in Assam. Were you attracted to music from a very young age?
My maternal grandfather was a renowned composer in Assam. My mother and aunt were trained in Hindustani classical music. Professionally, both my parents have been teachers. When I was in the sixth grade, I started learning how to play the tabla. I learnt the instrument till the time I was in the twelfth grade. Learning the tabla was the only form of formal music training I had. I learnt music composition and production on my own. I taught myself to play the guitar and the keyboards. I have learnt a lot of things on my own.
When did you come to Mumbai?
I was doing a lot of work in Assam. I used to do the background scores for films and television serials in Assam. Unlike a lot of other musicians, I didn’t come to Mumbai with big dreams in my eyes. I first visited the city in 2012 to record my Assamese album. I was fortunate enough to get some interesting projects in the city. I decided to shift to Mumbai and work from here.
What did Assam teach you?
Assam taught me the value of simplicity. People in Assam are very honest and good-natured. There is a certain purity in that land. I am and will always be very close to my roots. My motherland inspired me to become a musician.
Is there a particular musician who inspired you?
There have been many. Some of my most favourite artists have been Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, Bhupen Hazarika and Papon.
What are you doing next?
I am about to start doing live shows actively. I used to do shows in Assam but now, I plan to perform all across the country. Apart from films and shows, I am working on a lot of independent singles.