“We were recording the background music of Mango Souffle and felt we needed Carnatic alaaps as interlude” continued Dattani. “We invited a traditional singer for a recording to our studio and it was while watching her interact with our jazz musician that an idea crossed my mind. I wondered how it would be to have an old-world singer jam with a modern artiste. That at is how Morning Raga was conceived. I first sounded the idea to my friend and musician Prakash Kovelamudi, my hero in the film. Prakash was excited and took me to meet his dad, Raghavendra Rao, big time filmmaker in Telugu cinema. When Raghvendra Rao sir also approved of the idea, I knew I was on the right track so I confirmed Rajiv Menonmy absolute favourite as my DOP and went to Andhra Pradesh for a recce”.
A young mumbai director attracted to Carnatic music and wanting to shoot in Andhra Pradesh, don’t you think it sounds a bit odd I ask Dattani? “Well, I’m originally from Gujarat, but my heart belongs to South. I am a Bangalore boy in my mind and this reflects in everything I create. I have studied Bharata Natyam for six years and have been connected with Carnatic music through my dance gurus. Morning Raga is my first film and it refects my interest. I was super excited about the subject but very clear that I will only make the film if Shabana Azmi agrees to play the protagonist and when she agreed, I was relieved.” What made you choose her considering she is not a trained singer? “Swaralatha is more than her voice, there is a lot is happening to the character. Yes, she is not a trained singer but Azmi is our greatest living actor and I was confident she could live up to any challenges” concludes Dattani.
to be continued