Nitin Sawhney Interview: ‘Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’ composer
Composer Nitin Sawhney makes it clear that Andy Serkis‘s “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” is not to be confused with Disney’s kid-friendly musical version of “The Jungle Book.” “This is about Andy going back to the original source material,” he explains, “and really finding a world that is about Andy’s vision of this and interpretation of it.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Sawhney above.
Based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling, this Netflix release centers on Mowgli (Rohan Chand), a human child raised in the wild by wolves. In addition to directing, Serkis also plays Mowgli’s bear friend Baloo, and the cast also includes Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomi Harris, Matthew Rhys and Freida Pinto.
Sawhney, who also worked on Serkis previous directorial effort “Breathe” (2017), felt that his job was to find his way “into Andy’s vision and his imagination.” In addition, he wanted to “capture the essence of Mowgli himself.” As a British man of Asian descent, the composer identified with the metaphor of the character “coming to terms with his identity at puberty between the world of animals and men. It was a very strong kind of motif to riff on musically.”
While the score needed to “appeal to a mass audience,” Sawhney also wanted to “retain that authenticity with the Indian classical tradition.” So he used several region-specific instruments combined with an 87-piece orchestra in order to “broaden the palette of musical sounds.”
Sawhney also penned the original song “Changes,” performed by Kara Marni. It was his intention to “capture the narrative of Mowgli” and “the feeling of Mowgli” in both the music and lyrics. He reprised the main orchestral theme from the film “to create that kind of melody and the flavor of the song.”