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Sohum Shah Films

Fantastic Fest: composer Jesper Kyd on how video games helped him score the Indian monster movie Tumbbad

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Sep 23, 2018, 12:55 PM EDT

Friday afternoon at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas hosted the U.S. premiere of Tumbbad. Described as India's first hardcore monster movie, Tumbbad spent roughly six years in production, cycling through a handful of writers and co-directors in the process.

Once the film started to take shape, Danish composer Jesper Kyd was approached by co-directors Adesh Prasad and Rahi Anil Barve to write the music. Though Prasad, who also co-wrote the film, couldn't be in attendance, Kyd was there to talk about how his soundscape helped set the film apart from typical Indian cinema. 

"I think they wanted a Western composer because they didn't want something that felt like typical India," said Kyd to the crowd after the screening, which included SYFY WIRE. "This feels like something really different."

It was Kyd's history of scoring video games, including Assassin's Creed and Hitman, that appealed to the filmmakers, as those franchises have a global audience. Though Kyd has been scoring films more often in the past few years, it was clear that Tumbbad would be something else entirely.  

Once Kyd was onboard, Prasad and Anil Barve showed him the first edit of their film. "It was a much longer version, but I was completely blown away," said Kyd. "I thought this feels like it needs an atmosphere [that's] totally unique. Just in its own world."

In order to help them build that world, Kyd worked with Prasad to extract influences from a rather eclectic playlist. 

"[He] did play some really odd music for me," said Kyd, who described one clip as a drum group playing on the street, which was "terribly recorded and not very impressive, but he said 'There's something in this I like.'"

Other influences that Kyd took into account was the intro to a 60s-era Danish kids show. "The opening music was a doll that you wound up and would sit there and clap with some flower power music in the background just jamming away. It was the most insane music I think I've heard." 

As Kyd continues moving into film composition, he credits his history with video games as being able to prepare him for the dark fairytale world where Tumbbad resides. 

"That's why starting off with video games was so much fun, so often you get to write fantasy and sci-fi and horror," Kyd explained. "If I had only done films, the amount of horror and fantasy and sci-fi would have probably been less, because so many video games are genre. These movies don't come along all the time."

Tumbbad is getting a theatrical release in India on October 12th. Don't forget to check out all of SYFY WIRE’s Fantastic Fest coverage all through next week.

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