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Music supervisor Akshat Parikh shares his experience of working on Bandish Bandits

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The beauty of Indian classical music was clearly seen and appreciated with cinematic expression in Anand Tiwari’s Bandish Bandits.

The web-series presents talented but forgotten sangeet gharanas to the limelight through the efforts of actors such as Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni and Sheeba Chaddha. The person behind their depiction of classical singers, Akshat Parikh, is thrilled about the appreciation the series has garnered.

A trained classical musician, Akshat Parikh schooled under his late grandfather, vocalist Pt. Krishnakant Parikh Ahmedabad, belonging to Mewati Gharana of the late Pandit Jasraj. Since he comes from a classical background rich in guru-shishya parampara and having dealt in commercial singing, this series resonated well with the 30-year-old singer.

“It was a blissful experience working with an extremely talented cast and crew. Maybe a little intimidating at first, but they made sure everyone was at ease. The beautiful amalgamation of Indian classical and pop music was something I could relate to,” says the singer.

Parikh had the role of a Music Supervisor for the show and was teaching veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah the nuances of classical singing, making his role of Sangeet Samrat Rathod authentic and believable. He also suggested that Shah make his portrayal of a Guru distinct from his persona as a Sangeet Samrat performing on stage, and the veteran actor accepted the suggestion wholeheartedly, Parikh says.

“Naseer Sir made a genuine effort to learn any and every idea that went into the making of a bandish. He wanted to know what it meant, the feel of it, and everything beyond. He made sure that he got every nuance right,” he shares.

Atul Kulkarni, the singer reveals, is a quick learner. “Coming from an artistic Marathi household, he picked up on the nuances that you see in a classical singer in an instant,” Parikh says, adding, “It was absolutely humbling working with both of them. They showed extraordinary dedication and worked really hard at learning and understanding Indian classical music.”

Parikh says he had to work harder at teaching music etiquette to the lead pair of Bandish Bandits—Shreya Chaudhary and Ritwik Bhowmik. With Shreya, the training was to be basic, as her character didn’t have a classical background.

“With Rithwik, I worked for almost two-three months, as he was the lead and had the maximum number of scenes where his character sings. I started with the basics, as his was a make or break character for the show. We started from things as trivial as hand movements, and sargams, and included secondary things like taals and musical notations,” says Parikh praising the actor for putting in hard work.

It takes years to master a craft, to act as a classical singer in a show dedicated to music can go either way. As a Music Supervisor Parikh paid utmost attention to detail.

“I wanted to make sure that it looked the actors were actually singing. The popping of veins in the throat would make it look much more realistic. Lip syncing to classical music and its sargams is a different forte all together. As much as lip-syncing and expressions matter, so do an actor’s facial enunciations of the classical notations, or Uukars and Aakars, as we call them,” he reveals.

Parikh’s participation was to write and training the cast, he also played a cameo role in the web-series.

Parikh said he wishes that more commercial ventures are taken up on the subject of classical music, in order to reach out to audiences. “OTT serves audiences of any and every age-group. There will surely be more series now, with the focus on music and songs. Shows like these, where we embrace Indian culture, not just musically, even otherwise, need to be made,” he concludes.

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