Asserting that his film sees the involvement of top talent across music, choreography, and cinematography, Music School director Paparao Biyyala on creating the Ilaiyaraaja-composed venture
Indian filmmaker Paparao Biyyala grew up with an appetite for content that was presented with music. “The concept is not new to India. The Ramayana and the Mahabharat have been [presented] in a musical format. I recall how one song after the other would be rendered by characters with [minimal] dialogues in between,” says the director, also an avid consumer of the musical shows presented on foreign turf.
On May 12, Biyyala presents the much-anticipated drama, Music School, a tale on the academic pressures that children are forced to endure. Apart from the fact that the Sharman Joshi and Shriya Saran-starrer has been composed by Ilaiyaraaja, the musical is also of interest to cinephiles since it will include three songs from the western classic musical, The Sound of Music. From Biyyala*s bank of scripts, this offering, he was certain, needed to be presented with song and dance.
“If you have to convey an important message in an entertaining way, this is how it can be done. Also, since there are kids involved, this was the better format [to employ]. When I got the rights to the songs from The Sound of Music, I only had Ilaiyaraaja on my mind. Apart from the fact that he is great, he writes music in the western language. I was lucky that he didn*t hesitate or wonder if [we] could record the sounds of The Sound of Music, like we did under his supervision. Once we had shot the songs and had a lyricist work on them, we took them to Ilaiyaraaja, who worked on them over several sessions in Chennai. I am told, he doesn*t spend as much time with directors as he did with me. So, he had really invested a lot of time in this film. He always understands the situation and makes music to the lyrics. He never [announces] that the lyrics should be penned according to his composition,” he says, further heaping praise on the composer for meticulously writing the notes for each instrument. “Be it the piano, guitar, violin or any other instrument, he*ll write all the notes and then bring in the composers. He*s methodical. He will come into his studio at 7 am, do a puja, practise yoga, have his breakfast, and then begin.”
The two-hour musical film, he says, includes 12 songs, each of which is instrumental in taking the story ahead. “[In the film industry], there*s a lot of scope to make musicals in the true sense. Songs will take the story ahead. While people usually want to leave the theatre when a song begins to play, in this film, you won*t even realise that 12 songs have been included. The 12th one is a dialogue. The choreography was important too, so we brought Hollywood*s Adam Murray to create seven songs. Chinni Prakash has worked on three, and Prabhdheva*s brother Raju Sundaram has designed one song. So, apart from the actors, I have also worked hard to rope in talents from across departments for the making of a cohesive piece.”
Also Read: *Music School* trailer: Academic pressure and performing arts collide in Shriya Saran-Sharman Joshi*s film
A track he*s particularly proud of is one that has been captured with deft. “We used the steadicam with the scene starting from the ground, and travelling to the top floor. You*ll see a sense of continuity, and we had 60 children involved in it.”