"The very first thing that Nagesh told me was that the songs need to express the emotions of the film, vulnerable when needed and with power when the script demands. The songs needed to be organically attuned to the emotions of the protagonist, a minor violently forced into sex trade," Relia recalled. (Agencies)
"I was given a clear brief to not even think about commercial viability of the songs," he told reporters in an email interview.
"We were clear that if the film can touch a chord with the audience, everything else will fall in place anyway. So the songs needed to be an intrinsic part of the story, not added for romantic relief or item," he added.
Kukunoor's hard-hitting drama "Lakshmi" has been doing its festival rounds, and it recently also won the Audience Award for best narrative feature, based on viewers' votes at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF).
The movie, which had its US premiere at the gala, narrates the story of a 13-year-old girl kidnapped and sold into prostitution, her refusal to give up hope, and her courageous stand against her oppressors.
Mumbai-based Relia says his focus was thus on creating songs that were "cinematic - with an ability to tell a story, not so big and grand that they take away from realism of Lakshmi, the girl".
In a no-holds-barred comment, he said: "Let's face it, barring a few exceptions, the only songs that become hits are the ones that have budgets that support promos that are repeatedly played on television and then too, only if you get a Deepika (Padukone) or Katrina (Kaif) dance to them."
"With an unknown cast and a subject as serious as child prostitution, we saw absolutely no point in going that way."
Its album has four songs. The makers have chosen to keep a folk touch since the girl is from a village and then there are Sufi numbers.
"The big song of the film is Kailash Kher singing a Sufi track asking Maula (god) why some people are not allowed to be treated like humans while others are god's special children."
"The melodies are strictly folkish and light classical in nature, supported by powerful lyrics by Manoj Yadav. There's a story in each song. The arrangements are also organic with Indian instruments dominating the sound, like the ghatam, kanjira, shehnai, sarangi, tabla and harmonium," said the 35-year-old.
All songs, Relia said, are original."There are no folk songs that have been reproduced. But Nagesh used some songs as references," added the composer, who earlier created melodies for "Hanuman", "Return Of Hanuman" and "Ferrari Ki Sawaari".
"The very first thing that Nagesh told me was that the songs need to express the emotions of the film, vulnerable when needed and with power when the script demands. The songs needed to be organically attuned to the emotions of the protagonist, a minor violently forced into sex trade," Relia recalled.