Tanushree Saha, the composer, producer, and creative powerhouse behind 'Sweet Dreams' - this season's most thrilling combination of acapella music and hard rock, says she puts in everything she's got into every project so that viewers take away an important message, every time.
This is an exclusive conversation with the cast & crew of "Sweet Dreams", the latest thriller music video from team Tan Daze that's racing up the charts on YouTube this season.
Watch The Video
The Genesis of #SweetDreams
Tanushree Saha, (composer & producer at Tan Daze) maintains that she started working on the 'Sweet Dreams' project as an acapella rendition of the popular Marilyn Manson cover.
Tanushree spends a lot of time experimenting with musical styles as a composer. Having trained in hindustani and western classical vocals, she is a maestro at developing perfect harmonies for her acapella projects, as seen in her past work, in tracks such as The Sounds of Silence.
She also records, mixes and masters her own tracks within a home-studio setup, and as a strong fan of Marilyn Manson (read a guest column by Tanushree about her musical journey and influences here), she began experimenting with an acapella version of the song (originally performed by Eurythmics).
The addition of hard rock elements and the effect it had on the final composition and consequent video development, were a "happy accident" in her own words.
The Production of #SweetDreams
Once the young composer was satisfied with the final rendition of her track, she pitched the idea of producing a music video that would do justice to the haunting melody of her song. Maverick theatre director & critically acclaimed screenwriter Prataya Saha jumped on board at this stage.
"When I decided to take up the project (Sweet Dreams), I only had a few things in mind. I knew I wanted to do justice to the creepiness, craziness, macabre and hollowness that echoes through the track. When I started thinking about the storyline, I picked up a subject that is at once extremely sensitive, yet gory and bold in depiction." - Prataya Saha, Director, Sweet Dreams
Prataya maintains that he thoroughly enjoyed the principal photography sessions for the 'Sweet Dreams' project. The crew had zeroed in on a resort right in the midst of a grassland, and the team continued shooting through the night. Speaking of the team that decided to give in everything, irrespective of how many takes it took or the hours that crept by, the young director remains ecstatic.
"I haven't seen such better teamwork anywhere else!" - Prataya Saha (about the crew behind Sweet Dreams)
Anshulika Kapoor, a prominent theatre personality and actress plays a significant role in the storyline. Her character is bold, and borders on the depiction of tyranny in an almost surreal context. She recounts the experience of shooting for this video as a great learning experience, and has a special callout to both composer Tanushree and director Prataya.
"...the music is very groovy. She (Tanushree) has done an absolutely fantastic job, and it is always wonderful to work with Prataya as an actor. He knows exactly what he wants from each character, and makes sure that there's enough room for exploration in how every character comes alive on screen." - Anshulika Kapoor, Actress, Sweet Dreams
Ajay Dutta, who plays the role of the lead antagonist in the video, is a through-and-through method actor, and is known for his acting exploits within a discerning, critically appreciated production space. He recalls that the shooting setup in itself had eerie elements, as the crew operated within a mansion in the middle of a jungle, and 'silent' mannequins dominated much of the sets.
"We were shooting my scenes, decidedly wicked, between 8 PM toand 4:30 AM. Tanu's song brought out the haunting flavors in my act... This was probably the first time that I was asked to play a character with such dark traits, but the director (Prataya) was confident that I could pull it off. Kudos to the team, and here's hoping that millions of people will watch it and get the message!" - Ajay Dutta, Actor, Sweet Dreams
On the mammoth task of pulling a project together at this scale...
Tanushree fondly recalls the time spent in gathering resources for the unit and production requirements. Once she had finalized the specifics of the shoot (the cast, the principal photography timelines, the shooting locations, etc), it was time to bend the buck and optmize her resources as a producer to bring the project to life.
"I didn't have a separate production unit manager, or a spearate casting director or even a production crew, for that matter. It was all DIY from the start. And it was totally worth it!" - Tanushree
As an example of how crazy it gets for a composer-producer in the indie scene, she mentions an incident that led to the discovery of mannequins that she could use for the shoot (she had tried multiple avenues to secure mannequins, which were deemed crucial to the storyline, but she had found little success, with almost everyone saying 'no', up until almost the last moment before the shoots).
"I was walking along an almost abandoned street in Rajajinagar, to meet this wig guy. He was struggling to keep his business afloat, and I just randomly spotted these old, withered mannequins in the corner. And on an instinct, I asked him if I could use them in my shoot and he said yes. How we got them to my place and then to the location for the shoots, is another story!" - Tanushree
Tanushree rests her case, with the hope that the sum total of the mammoth efforts that she, and the crew have put into the making of this video will have that one action that everyone in the team has been hoping for. The project carries a strong message about the plight of forsaken children, and she hopes that her song reaches enough eyes and ears for people to sit up, and at least take notice that something's wrong.
Meanwhile, the warrior princess-composer-producer stays strong on her journey and prepares to roll out more of such knockout hits.