Going beyond recording – Bajirao recordist prefers ‘Sound Director’ over ‘Sound Recordist’

Nihar Kumar Samal during recording of Tevar

Nihar Samal during a recording session
Nihar Samal during a recording session

Award-winning sound recordist, Nihar Ranjan Samal wants to change one thing about the Hindi film industry. Having worked with some of the popular filmmakers in Bollywood, Samal says the industry’s sound recordists should now be termed as sound directors.
“Today, our job in Bollywood is not just limited to sound recording. From recording to refining sounds and digitally correcting them with latest gadgets and sophisticated sound equipment, we do everything,” says Samal, who recently bagged the Producers’ Guild Award for the Best Sound Design for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Bajirao Mastani’. Nihar shares the award with his project partner for the film, Biswadeep Chatterji.
“Working in ‘Bajirao Mastani’ was a great challenge from the very beginning,” says the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) alumnus who had got his second National Award in 2013 for the acclaimed movie, ‘Madras Cafe’.

Nihar Kumar Samal at the recording of 'Madras Cafe' that fetched him a National Award
Nihar Kumar Samal at the recording of ‘Madras Cafe’ that fetched him a National Award

Considering the fact that ‘Bajirao Mastani’ was a period movie, the film was shot in sync sound (sound being recorded directly at every location). Describing the sound recording process, Samal says a lot of research went in prior to creating sound for the period film. “We had to capture the dialogues amidst a lot of noise from costumes, jewellery, armour and of course the background. Since the film dealt with a love story that developed in the backdrop of a war, there were a lot of action scenes. It was challenging to capture the dialogues with good clarity and produce them for the audience without any mixing,” he says. Apparently, there has been no sound mixing in the movie.
“The last imaginary battle where Bajirao struggles with his inner journey was challenging in particular. The sound and music effects were done meticulously to create an impact and believable sound effect for the scene,” he says. People have appreciated the sound of ‘Bajirao’ for the way it was conceived and executed.Samal’s last Bollywood project was ‘Piku’. He has films like, Raju Hirani’s ‘PK’ and ‘3 Idiots’, besides ‘Lafangey Parinde’, ‘Vicky Donor’, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, ‘Tevar’ and ‘Ferrari Ki Sawaari’ to his credit. A week back, Nihar also received the 22nd Star Screen Award for the sound design of ‘Piku’.
He got his first National Award for ‘Tatvam Asi’, a film that he did during his Post-graduate Diploma course in Sound Recording and Sound Design course in the FTII. He had joined FTII after doing his MSc in Physics from Odisha.
Samal got his first break in the film industry with ‘Strangers’ of Anand Ray in 2006.

Nihar Kumar Samal during recording of Tevar
Nihar Kumar Samal during recording of Tevar


Also Read:

Actor-producer Sanjay Suri on Chauranga: How he enjoys the creative process of film-making