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March 13, 2011

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  Mano Murthy - The musician with a difference

Mano MurthyMano Murthy, a very rare personality is an NRI who has special taste for composing good music for albums and films in Indian and Western genres. The 'car car' song of Nanna Preethiya Hudugi earned him good recognition and drove youngsters crazy. Though he hasn't scored for too many films, he has surely set himself on par with talented music directors. Being an IT professional, he is making the best of his limited opportunities as a musician and dishing out a variety of tunes with each new film of his. Staying in the United States of America for almost 28 years, Mano Murthy was one of the producers of this year's National Award winner -Preethi Prema Pranaya. 'Joke Falls' is his latest music venture that has five songs composed by him. This down-to-earth person spent some time exclusively with viggy.com in spite of his busy schedules. Excerpts:

Can you tell us about yourself?
I have been into computer networking since 1976. It was during early 90's when I felt I should do something else apart from just talking with computers. My obvious preference was music. Music is my passion. During my collage days in UVCE Bangalore, we had a pop band. I have composed some Kannada pop songs and many tunes. America America was the first film in 1995-96 to have my music. I used to work for one movie every two years and from last year I am working on one movie per year. Music is something that keeps me busy and brings freshness every moment. High tech world is routine for me but music is something that I can work on all the time.

Why music after all?

Since my childhood, I have had a flair for music. Inclination towards music budded in me when my parents used to take me to Karnataka Music Festival every summer. I know quite a few IT people who love music and play one or the other musical instrument after returning home from work… it's a great way of mental relaxation.

Do you get time to work on music?
If you want to do something you should find time for yourself, isn't it? When I'm on projects, I sleep for just three to four hours a day!

Do you have any studio set up at your place?

Yeah, I have a composing studio. I don't do recordings there. Even if I record there I have to bring them here to get the recording done by professional recording engineers. If a live orchestra is required for my composition, I record them when I come here to India.

Do you find these studios in India comfortable?
Yeah, they are very comfortable. These studios are much more comfortable than ones out there in the USA. Engineers here know how to record Indian music. In the US, the methodologies are different though equipment is the same. People behind the equipment make lots of difference.

Mano MurthyHow do you want to position yourself as a music director?
I am still learning. It's a never-ending process. I think the knowledge only comes with experience. I want to really do something different in music. For example, for background score, there is one set of formulae and everyone is following that. But I want to experiment somewhat in that area and even for songs. Right now I can't say what I want to do. But I definitely want to explore something new and innovative.

In which direction do you want to go? Either totally towards Indian music or western or some kind of combination?
Yes, I want to do a blend of both genres of music. As I know the new trends both over there and also here, I just want to mix both.

What do you say about today's trend in music industry-particularly in the Kannada film industry?

I want to tell you the truth. I don't listen to too much Kannada music. That's because I don't have time. Another thing is that when I listen to a music album, it has to be something that I can hook to, something that I can gain from. There is no point in listening to existing things. It's better listening to something different from the existing ones. I also think that if I listen to too many Kannada songs, they may reflect in my music compositions!

You can take it the other way. If you listen to existing Kannada songs, it may help you to render something better than that!
You are absolutely right. Sometimes you need to learn from examples. Yes, once in a while when people suggest that I listen to something I try them, never mind whether they are good or bad..

What do you think about film music?
Well, movie music is something that one has to make for the audience. I depend on what the audience wants and what the director wants. A lot also depends on the story. So in film music there is not much flexibility.

Music is your passion and you yourself are a filmmaker. What made you venture into the producing of films?
Well, that just happened by coincidence. I am not an intentional producer. If someone wants help I will help them!

Is there any plan to venture into the Kannada film industry?
I don't know. If something good comes my way, yes, I may venture into it. But, for music I will be there always.

Is there any specific band or person or a type of music that inspires you?
Yeah, I like lounge music, which includes all kinds of ethnic melodies from different parts of the world. I like great performers like Pandith Jasraj, Pathe Ali Khan. I like both lounge and jazz. Jazz is something that has never been explored in Indian cinema. Forget Kannada, even the Hindi film industry has never tried that!

Mano MurthyDo you listen to Hindi film songs or albums?
Yeah, it's the same as Kannada songs like I already mentioned. Sometimes I listen to them. My wife brings Hindi DVDs and albums and in the morning while working on the treadmill, I listen. I came across some good music. Kannada film producers are not ready to take the kind of risk Hindi producers take. We do not have enough 'audience' here to receive new experiments. But in Hindi or English, that is not the case. They can risk anything as they have a broad market. Even if they reach say one percent, it can easily sustain them.

For a person like you, money is not a criteria whereas music is a passion. Don't you think the producers will encourage people like you? Do you anticipate any such producers coming up here?
I hope so. There may be such producers. I think, in Kannada, many new good directors and producers are coming up. But I haven't worked with any of them. I have worked with Kavitha, Nagathihalli and now with Nagendra. And the work has given me satisfaction.

What is your comment or suggestions about the betterment of the industry?
I think we should concentrate more on the quality of the film. Starting from story to technical aspects, we need to work hard. If we take-up a story, that can be filmed both in good and bad ways. To any given story, we should improve on technical aspects. I heard that theaters are bad here. I saw a couple of movies in Kapali and in some other theaters and it was pretty bad. Both making and delivering of a product are equally important. Yeah, I know all these require money, but once they improve all these basic parameters, people will obviously go and watch movies in theaters. Otherwise people will keep on comparing our product with other languages.

What are your future plans?
I will continue with what I am doing now. Will keep on doing better things - work hard on music and make myself better equipped!

  You can write to Mano Murthy from here  

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