Wherever I may roam

Darbuka Siva, debutant composer of upcoming Sasikumar-starrer, Kidaari, tells me that every action in his life is guided by the nomad in him

As Darbuka Siva tells me how quickly he tires of routine, how everything he’s ever done in life is to avoid repetition, I cannot but be reminded of Red’s assessment of Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption: “Some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright.” Siva yearns for a ‘kick’ in everything he does. “My biggest fear in life is getting bored. It affects every aspect of my life, including relationships. I need to be on the move.”

Siva decided as a schoolboy that he’d become a musician. He hadn’t touched a musical instrument until then, he knew no musicians, but he’d decided nevertheless and told his smirking friends of his choice. The world slowly conspired to make him one, and for the last decade, he has busied himself with making independent music and collaborating with like-minded musicians… until he woke up one morning a year ago and realised the worst. “I was bored.” He noticed that his work was dictating his life, and that he couldn’t be the free-spirited musician he had always been. “The very thing I had loved doing had become a cage.” A self-admitted gypsy, Siva decided then that he’d take a break and travel abroad to try and become a… football manager!

“Why not? I’ve always followed football and am a Manchester United fan. When I told people I’d become a musician, they thought I was insane. But I became one, didn’t I?”

However, before he could pack his bags, Ajai Prasath, the executive producer of Rajathanthiram, called him to offer “an acting gig. Acting was a new space for me. I was a nobody in Tamil cinema. So, I figured it was the equivalent of my football-coaching aspiration in a way.” Siva didn’t even have to audition and walked straight into the role. While shooting for the film, Prasath and he would often have leisurely conversations about music, centering on their mutual admiration for Ilaiyaraaja.

Rajathanthiram—and his performance—fetched glowing reviews, and as he pondered on his next step, Prasath offered him a way back into music. “But this time as a composer for Kidaari, a film starring Sasikumar that was to mark his debut as a director.” He refuses that composing for a film limited his creative expression. “I have collaborated with other artists before and knew that I was here to enhance somebody else’s vision—in this case, Prasath’s.”

There was a catch though. Siva had to make ‘scratches’ of all the tracks before he could be introduced to Sasikumar. “Otherwise, he may have found it odd that one of the actors of Rajathanthiram was to be the composer of his film.” And so, Prasath and he worked on the music for the next six months. “I had no bank of songs to draw from, as many of my composer friends usually do.” Siva says it wouldn’t have mattered to him if, despite all the preparatory work, Prasath had decided to go with another composer. “I was just having fun with the process, and had nothing to lose.”

Eventually, the tracks were ready and Siva was introduced to a rather confused Sasikumar, who thought he was being approached for a role in Kidaari. “I simply gave him the CD and requested him to check the songs out.” After listening to all the songs, Sasikumar’s comment: “Eject the CD.” Siva wondered if “he was symbolically ejecting me from the meeting”, and went home, all the wiser for his experience. “Prasath then called me and said that I’d been picked as the composer.”

Siva is now completing recording all the songs of Kidaari, having worked with long-time associates like singer Haricharan. Any other debutant composer would be nervous in anticipation of the film’s audio release, and wondering if Kidaari would lead to other films, but not Siva. “I’ve reached this point in my life by not making plans. Somewhere in between, I got lost. But I’ve found myself again, and will not fall into that trap again. I’m meant to be a nomad.”

This article was written for The Hindu. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share it.

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