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  • Women’s Day Special: “Composing has always been my forte” says Pooja Anita Das

    Published on March 8, 2021

    History bears witness to the fact that patriarchy has played a crucial role in shaping the life of women, dominating them, repressing them and dictating each of their moves. With time, societal norms evolved but men were the sole beneficiaries, as women continued to be oppressed in one form or the other. 


    Entertainment industry is no exception.All the major decision-making jobs in this line of work were dominated by men.


    Producers, directors, music directors, DOP have all been predominantly men. There have been a couple of female composers but they were never celebrated. In recent times one or two may have got their share of recognition but not even close to their male counterparts.


    Today we decided to chat with one such female music composer who insists I drop “female” while describing her. She started her journey back in 2013 knowing she wanted to be a composer and today she has come a long way bagging some interesting and well known projects. I am sure you’ve enjoyed some of her music without even knowing it was her. So, today on International women’s day I couldn’t miss the opportunity of getting to know this hidden gem whom I fondly call the melody maker. 


    So, Pooja, since when did you know you wanted to compose music?


    I feel I had a special bond with music right from my early days. Music was my constant companion, and there was rarely any moment which passed where music wasn’t present! For instance, as a child, I refused to eat until my mother played songs from the film “maine pyaar kiya” ! Another memory is when I used to hear the Azaan, I used to get fascinated and would start humming on that scale….I always felt that I had melodies in me, and I wanted to let them out. So, when, in grade 7 I composed my first song, I felt exhilarated!!  


    When did you realise you want to pursue this professionally?


    My mother saw my passion for music, and encouraged me to take up classical music lessons back in Calcutta. This gave me my much-needed foundation. She realized, early on, that I am not built for conventional 9-5 corporate jobs, and pushed me to pursue music professionally. Not just that, she even sponsored my first album! She continues to support me till date. As for my father, he is liberal man, who upon hearing about my decision regarding a career in music, supported me wholeheartedly. So, it only makes sense to say that my career in music is due to my mother’s faith in me, and the efforts she took!


    When you landed in Mumbai what are the hardships you faced?


    Before landing in Mumbai way back in 2013, I was taking courses in western vocals and music production from A.R Rahman’s school of music in Chennai. I even landed a few chorus jobs there. My journey in Mumbai started off on the right foot as I met a kind lady who was very helpful. She introduced me to her husband, a reputed filmmaker in the industry, who shared a lot of contacts with me and referred my name to lots of people after hearing some of my original compositions. However, I was confused at that time- do I pitch myself as a composer? Or a singer? Or both? I went for the third option. Within 2 months I got to sing the main lead in a jingle for a big brand that gave me confidence. While I was getting carried away with small singing jobs like singing harmony, I got offered a gig to sing chorus and harmony at the music launch of Queen. That was the point where I realized that I don’t want to sing and lose what I am really passionate about. If I have ever been good at anything, it was composing.Composing has always been my forte.I realised I had to market myself not as a singer, but as a composer. 

    What was your plan of action?


    First off, I stopped singing. If I wanted to get composing jobs, I had to stop singing. Then, I started making music videos- I composed 2 music videos, and started meeting people, showing them my compositions with a couple of my unreleased songs. 


    How did you land up composing for ads?


    As I was going and meeting various production houses, I kept ad production houses on my list too. everything happened step by step- I took one day at a time. Ads helped me to learn a lot, gave me the exposure of working as a composer in the real world. When I started getting jobs for ads in 2015, majority used to get rejected. Rejections taught me how to improve myself with tricks of composing jingles.

    Since its women’s day I have to ask, Were you ever treated differently because you were a woman?


    Well…I never faced any issues from any directors or producers, but yes, I did have some unpleasant experiences with fellow male composers.


    What was your experience like to work as a composer at The Viral Fever?


    My experience at TVF taught me a great deal of things. For that I am extremely grateful! It’s definitely something that so many people want to be a part of and to have got this opportunity to be part of a talented bunch of creators and composers well was definitely enriching in more ways than one.


    What do you want to tell the next generation of women who want to walk the path that’s less travelled?


    I think women shouldn’t fear exploring unconventional jobs. For that they must look up to powerful women for inspiration. They must have faith and in terms of the music industry I would say girls should do just beyond singing. Jobs like composing, music production, sound engineering still need a lot of talented females and they must start the process at an early stage. 
    We wish Pooja all the best in her journey and may we get to hear a lot more of her compositions.To know more about her journey follow her on Instagram @poojaanitadaz