Music composer Sricharan Pakala is synonymous with new-age thrillers in Telugu cinema. With Kshanam, Goodachari, Evaru and PSV Garuda Vega to his credit, he has been raising the bar with his score, contributing to the edge-of-the-seat experience. Adulation kept coming in, but there was also the risk of being typecast. He broke away from that mould with the rom-com Krishna and his Leela (KAHL), and his music is among the film’s talking points.
The music album is yet to be released and Sricharan concedes the team was short on time prior to the film’s direct OTT release (KAHL is streaming on Netflix and Aha). The album will be out soon, with a dub-step track of the fun song ‘Pulihora’.
Sricharan also has an independent single coming up as part of season one of Hyderabad Gig on Amazon Prime Music, soon.
Sricharan entered the film music scene in 2013 with Adivi Sesh’s K.I.S.S and Kshanam (2016) followed. Prior to that, he had been part of the rock band Pentatonic for a decade in Vizag, performing heavy metal and then exploring rock, fusion, jazz… “all these influences are there in my music today,” he says.
A self-taught musician, he initially listened to ghazals during long drives with his mom, then he was drawn towards Ilaiyaraaja and A R Rahman’s compositions: “I’ve been hugely inspired by them [to pursue music],” he says.
Sricharan says he owes his interest in music to “the hills and beaches of Vizag” and its culture of live music: “Vizag used to have a townhall music and party culture in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Once, when I was performing at a shack on the shores at The Park hotel, a Russian among the audience recalled his memories of Vizag’s music in the 80s,” he shares.
His initial learning of the guitar was with the help of his brother and a cousin, and Sricharan listened to varied genres of music. “Our band performed at many live events and I can vouch that Vizag has a lot of untapped talent,” he says.
One of his comrades for film music is a friend from Vizag, singer Poojan Kohli, whom Sricharan describes as a “Telugu sardar from Vizag.” “We are part of a close-knit team and love to jam and create independent music tracks,” he says.
Tunes from a prop room
When Sricharan moved to Hyderabad to compose for films, it required a lot of getting used to. He remembers composing for Kshanam from a “store room or prop room, with just one desk, no speakers” and only relying on what he heard through his headphones. Budget constraints aside, the film got noticed and along with its director Ravikanth, actor-writer Adivi Sesh, cinematographer Shaneil Deo and editor Garry BH, Sricharan was in the reckoning.
“Thrillers kept coming to me in all its variations — action, espionage… The genre of music wasn’t new to me. I tried to make the sound of each film different from the previous one,” he explains.
For KAHL, he blended in Carnatic classical and western music, and tapped into his inherent love for the guitar: “When Ravi first told me the story, I felt it was new and bold and asked him if he intended to keep it that way. Then we began discussing the mood and the music,” says Sricharan, who wants to compose for romances, comedies, dramas and “I am waiting to work on a complete ‘mass’ film.”
One of Sricharan’s prized possessions is a 13-year-old custom-made guitar from Chennai. He calls it the ‘Axe’, referring to its distinct shape and says “the sound is also on the heavier side.” Axe has been his constant companion, just like his friends from Vizag. Referring to lyrics in one of the songs in KAHL that pays an ode to Vizag, he says with a laugh, “That was intentional. We all love the city.”
Sricharan’s line-up of film projects includes Adivi Sesh’s Major (in Hindi and Telugu), Allari Naresh starrer Naandhi, Nagarjuna starrer Wild Dog and a Kannada film starring Shiva Rajkumar. He admits that work paused briefly during lockdown due to the anxiety about the pandemic: “There was a lockdown in the mind too, but when push comes to shove, you need to keep working, and that keeps me going.”