Shashwat Sachdev: I have learnt Indian and western classical music!

National Award winner Shashwat Sachdev talked to Joanne D'silva about why he shifted focus from Hollywood music to Bollywood music. He also told us EXCLUSIVELY what his reaction was when his name was announced for Best Music Director and Best Background Score for the film Uri: The Surgical Strike

You collaborated in Hollywood with Tony Maserati (Grammy Award winner) and Mark Shaiman - how was your experience working with them?

I was very fortunate to be in the same room with the likes of these huge producers. I think it showed me what discipline and professionalism mean, because I was very young and I graduated from law school, so I did not have a history of working in music or in the industry in a professional way.  Tony Maserati heard my work and gave me an opportunity in Hollywood.  Later, I got an opportunity to work with Mark Shaiman, who was nominated for the Oscar this year and he is a legendary composer. I got to work on it and it gave me a perspective into how to be professional and how to be perfect with your work and the discipline that they have. I was doing okay, but all my friends and the people I was working with suggested that I also work in India. But it is very difficult to find work here in India when you are living there. So I was figuring it out and meeting people here. And meanwhile, Phillauri and Veere Di Wedding happened. 

We heard that you shifted focus from Hollywood to Bollywood - how did this happen? 

There are a few primary reasons. Firstly, I was working on small projects - in LA, in terms of my role in the projects, they were much smaller than right now. Now I work as a music composer on a film and I can take a call and make a decision; there I was doing smaller gigs. One main reason was that I am born and brought up in India. I come from Jaipur and have learned Indian classical music and western classical music, and there I was not getting the opportunity to express my music. I have grown up listening to Hindi film songs and all my friends who listened to the music that I made for myself used to tell me that I should work for films in India, because it would be very rare to put this music into the films made in America. I was very low in terms of hierarchy and the work I was doing there. And then I came here and now I am fortunate to know the people who met me and the opportunities they gave me. 

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Shashwat, you won the National Award for Best Background Music this year for Uri: The Surgical Strike - what was your reaction when your name was announced for this category? 

The first person who told me was my producer, Sonia. She sent me a message and then Aditya (Dhar) called me immediately. I don't know about my reaction, but I was thrilled and was really happy and thankful, because technicians like me only see the work, but there is a lot of sacrifice by the whole family and the team. There is a lot of hard work that not only me, but the whole family and the team puts in. I feel really humbled that I am the person who gets the awards, but I do feel that it is my whole universe that gets them. My family, team, people who have worked for the film, people who contributed to the film and worked for the score and made it so good. There were 150 musicians who played the music, so it is very unfair that I accept the award for who I am - I am, because of the whole team.