HomePeopleThe making of a musician

The making of a musician

A unique talent for being able to “see” music that fits with a particular mood or theme helped Probir on his journey to directing and composing his first feature film.

Probir Geoffrey Dutt may now be entirely focused on his musical exploits, but there was a time that the Stirling resident (known for his trademark dapper suits) had to choose between rolling up his sleeves and working on a PhD or letting them down and entering the realm of music.

Given he has a style (or “personal branding”, as he puts it) more akin to that of Beethoven or Mozart from the late 1700’s, it’s hard to imagine him as a man of science.

“I have about 150 suits … I’ll walk up and down Stirling with my dog quite often and I’ll always be in a suit,” Probir says.

“I don’t want to be the same as everyone else.”

But after graduating from university with a degree in genetic engineering and completing a postgraduate degree in computer-simulated genetics, Probir found himself at a crossroads.

At the time he was playing multiple instruments in a UK indie band which had just been signed to a label, going under the names of Quadra Lift and later Dream Gap (“they thought Quadra Lift was a bit too rocky,” Probir says).


“I had a choice, do I get a job as a musician or do I do the sensible thing and continue my education?”
“So of course, I got a job as a musician.”

While his plan was to spend only a year in the music industry then return to university to finish his PhD, music ended up becoming his career.

He moved away from his homeland in the UK to Australia after the band was dropped by the label for “not selling any records”, and developed an interest in film music.

That interest went beyond just scoring films and, inspired by the work of Indian director and composer Styajit Ray (Probir’s father was also Indian), he was keen to direct them as well.

“It wasn’t a common thing, but I was always a keen writer, my grandfather was a poet and my family’s poetry is still taught in schools in India today,” he says.

… my grandfather was a poet and my family’s poetry is still taught in schools in India today

A unique talent for being able to “see” music that fits with a particular mood or theme helped Probir on his journey to directing and composing his first feature film.

“There’s a trick that I do at parties sometimes where somebody gives me a word, or a small sentence, and I’ll write a piece of music that matches it,” he says.

His 2012 directorial debut, The Three Ages of Sasha, covered intense themes such as domestic violence and drug abuse.

“That was the first feature film I made and I didn’t know whether that would be the last … so I wanted to get as much social context in there as possible,” Probir says.

The score included themes written for individual characters, with varying instruments used to introduce each one.

“When you’re watching the film and hear a sitar in the background, you might not consciously realise it but then you’ll see this character come on screen,” Probir says.

Since then, Probir has written music for two Indian action films and several experimental shorts by Australian artist Nicholas Nedelkopoulos.

He has now turned his focus to writing a stage play which will be based in Stirling, with a plot inspired by the Indian mythology of Savitri, a princess who marries an exiled prince named Satyavan.

“Open Window is a gothic noir about the empowerment of women in a relationship where the man is kind of dominant,” Probir says.

But it could become much more than just a show – it could make Probir’s long-postponed PhD dreams a reality.

“The playwright I’m working with … suggested that we make Open Window a PhD thesis,” he says.
“So instead of doing a PhD in computer simulated genetics, I will do it in creative arts and submit it that way.”

Probir’s next feature film, Love, Tea and Epiphany, is in post-production and will “hopefully” be released by the end of the year.

The drama follows the life of one woman split into three different periods in her life – at 17, 40 and 60 years of age.

“It’s an exploration about how we are always the same person as we go through life … but we are also different people, because of the love, the loss and the happiness (we experience),” Probir says.

“All those experiences make us who we are.”

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