Composing Narsinh Mehta’s incantatory poetry

It is just as well that the first intuitive step that I have taken on my Narsinh Mehta documentary project in the embryonic hours of today is a possible composition of one of his most characteristic songs. It is “Jagi ne joun to jagat disey nahi” whose opening lyrics lend themselves so well to the kind of pulsating incantation I have in mind. I plan to make this a minimalist but still percussion-rich composition that captures Mehta’s sense of wonder about the universe. The idea is to make it a composition that sends you in a trance.

I am tempted to put the first rough cut online but I should exercise some restraint because it is not ready yet. Of course, it is not as if I have written a grand symphony vulnerable to being stolen by my musical rivals. I am not even a musician. I just happen to be able to drum my desk rather well with some very basic beats. That said, I have enough of a musical ear to hear the whole final composition in my mind with precisely the kind of instruments I want in it.

One of the great advantages about a project like this is that the subject being a poet-philosopher has already done 80 percent of your content creation. I merely add some historical perspective and scholarly embellishments. In Mehta’s case particularly, one of the two most important aspects of any audio-visual rendering, namely music and words, are already in place. While he was not necessarily a music composer, the fact that he was known to have sung much of his poetry and many of his songs, for me the task becomes so much easier.

I would not like to preempt anything but there are clear signs now that the documentary is indeed going to be a reality, more than ten years after I first conceived of it. Although this is a documentary, my approach is going to be as if it is a feature film. Quite apart from the fact that such an approach would likely satisfy my nearly juvenile obsession to make movies, it would allow me to tell a rich dramatic story of this kind the way it should be told. The fact that I am even writing this post about it illustrates that I am inordinately enthusiastic about the project.

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About chutiumsulfate

South Asians can infer from my name what I am. View all posts by chutiumsulfate

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