An electrifying musician, an ace director, a versatile actor, he prides in the fact that he was born for Cinema. He is currently working on his latest debut Hollywood production AMY, a supernatural thriller capturing the life of the Amish community. He is a walking, talking powerhouse of talent. His musical arrangements are breath-taking and a work of art.
He is R.P.Patnaik – Tollywood’s enigma.
RP Patnaik has carved a place for himself in the Telugu industry within a short span of his lifetime with consistent hits. Not to miss, his internationally acclaimed music album – Chakra: the Signature of Time that catapulted him as a member of the Grammy academy. The films he has in his repertoire stand witness to his vibrant treatment of quality musical arrangements. An extremely simple individual, very down to earth, RP was amicable and unassuming. His visit to Shirdi Sai Samsthan of Michigan last week provided moments of soulful ecstasy to devotees as RP rendered some devotional numbers on Sai.
Here are the excerpts from his short but memorable chat with Anu Gopalakrishnan on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
Q: Ok. You have disappeared from Tollywood for AMY. Tell us about your Hollywood experience and why Amish community? (Click here for Trailer)
RP: Well, I always wanted to do something different. If I do regular themes, then I would not be able to stand apart. I studied about the Amish community where the backdrop is different from the regular crop of films. An interesting community and hence the story was born.
Q: You have directed a film in Telugu (Andamaina Manasulo) and now making a debut with a Hollywood venture. What is the difference in the production environment/working style between India and LA?
RP: Well, apart from the paper work I don’t see any kind of major difference. AMY that is currently in production has more of an Indian experience. The Amish community does not favor paperwork; they are even against getting clicked. One major lesson I learned was getting things done in a difficult situation. Working with the Amish community did not make me forget India. There are still lots of Indian experience making this film.
Q: Tell us about your first musical experience with Shirdi Sai Samsthan of Michigan. (Click here for Video)
RP: I am blessed. I had the opportunity to visit the Shirdi Sai temple in LA. But, this is the first time I am singing devotional songs at the Shirdi Sai temple. This is the most memorable experience for me. The songs I sang today were composed by me and earlier sung by SP Balasubramaniam for the private music album Amritavarshini. I can only say that I am lucky. The temple in Michigan looks really good.
Q: Tell us something about this whole Remix strategy that is currently in the works with a lot of composers.
RP: As a professional, let it be anything, if people like it, it gets accepted and the work is labeled as good. I have succumbed to this strategy of remixing old numbers. But, there is a difference – a few musicians do it for commercial reasons with inappropriate visuals, while some of them would like to basically use new technologies to make the new generation aware of some really good classics/songs that were hits and were popular in the language that they would understand. My personal opinion is that I always prefer the lyrics to have a meaning, convey an expression to the listener. But I am not against remix if crafted well. It is basically old wine in a new bottle formula.
Q: People in the industry know you as a multi-talented artist. You are a music composer/director, a film director, a story writer, a singer etc. Which aspect of cinema does RP Patnaik like?
RP: It is true that I have played with different strokes of cinema and to me film-making is an art. Honestly, I love cinema. I am passionate on everything about cinema. I am known as a music director. After doing 25 film albums, I acted as a blind man in the film Seenu Vasanthi Lakshmi. Several people told me that the 25 music albums that were released is equivalent to this one film as an actor. So instantly, my confidence as a film artist was at its peak.
I won the Nandi for the "Best story writer" award for the Telugu film "Andamaina Manasulo". This was my debut directorial venture. So, this was another facet of film making. To me, director is like a boss. When it comes to direction, I have more creative freedom. I don’t sense any control from anybody. I can make a call on various pieces of the film. But it is not the same being a music director. Whatever role I end up playing behind the screen, I always want to be original. I want to work for cinema, original cinema and MY cinema.
Q: What are your current projects? Your fans are waiting for those breath-taking music albums.
RP: I have several plans in the offing. I am planning on two international albums. I am scouting for a very good singer to deliver the lines in the diction and style I need. I am also immediately starting a telugu film. (RP maintains that this is a scoop for Miindia.com). I will be acting after six years and the working title for the film is called “Broker”.After which, I am thinking of another English venture – again a different set up, another different community that has not been explored by any film maker.
Q: As a music director, who are your favorite musicians? What about the new breed of musicians?
RP: My favorite musicians are Ilayaraja and A R Rahman. Ilayaraja and AR Rahman seem to have a bigger bandwidth of creativity, a huge bandwidth of musical knowledge and finesse. No. I have not spotted any musician that would consistently deliver. I am waiting for the right person. Somehow, all musicians are sounding repetitive. There seems to be a creative limitation with everyone. It becomes difficult to name one music director because today, we have so much talent but hardly any consistency in performance.
From a student of Space Physics to Cinema, RP Patnaik has come a long way in a short span of time. His talent is his success. His fans are waiting with anticipation for the release of his Hollywood flick titled “Amy”. This film stars Blue Lagoon fame Christopher Atkins, Jessica Digiovanni and Kurt Peterson. Amy is a thriller focusing on the Amish community of Pennsylvania. It is a known fact that Amish do not adopt any modern technology which is cleverly depicted in the film. Much of the film has been shot in Pennsylvania – home of the predominantly Amish community.