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Bafta Breakthrough Brit – Nainita Desai: film world beckons…

Bafta Breakthrough Brit – Nainita Desai: film world beckons…

November 30 2016
Amendments December 1 2016

Music composer makes top cut and hopes to establish herself in fiction film world…

BEING named a Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Breakthrough Brit was a great moment to savour for music composer Nainita Desai.

It not only means she can lean on some of the best in the business for advice and support but can now hunt down the opportunities she’s most to keen pursue.

Nainita Desai attends the Bafta Breakthrough Brits ceremony

A well-established music composer for television and documentaries, she would really like to lend her skills and expertise to fictional feature films.

Earlier this year, her contribution to the documentary feature, “The Confessions of Thomas Quick”, about Sweden’s most prolific serial killer, won her awards and got her noticed.

Many said the film’s music was original and innovative – especially for a documentary.

Her work on the BBC documentary musical, “Mumbai High” also garnered much praise and many plaudits as a group of slum children learnt to envision their concerns and future hopes through songs Desai created for them.

Since then, Desai has been commissioned to compose the score for a new feature film by writer-director, Neil Biswas, called “Darkness Visible”.

Set in Kolkata, it is billed as a horror film. But with production just complete, Desai can’t give away too much – though her part sounds exciting and very intriguing.

“It’s unique, and very different – it’s not Bollywood, it’s not even a western score, it’s quite edgy and unusual and I have hints of Asian influences but in a way that you really won’t have ever heard before.

“It’s quite experimental and adventurous and that is fun,” she revealed to

It’s the sort of assignment she really enjoys and the type of work she believes can carry her to a yet higher plane.

Being named a Bafta breakthrough Brit last month along 17 others (including writer Vinay Patel) means others feel the same and can now formally help her to achieve her goals.

She said: “With the endorsement of Bafta they can put me in front of the people I admire and can get guidance.

“I’ve built up a lot of experience writing music for documentaries and TV but people like to put you in boxes.

“For example, If you do nothing but TV commercials, it’s hard to break through into other areas and convince people.

“Feature films and TV drama is what I would really like to expand into.

“I still love writing for documentaries but there are other creative opportunities with fictions,” she explained to us this month.

There are 13 projects on her forthcoming TV and documentary slate – among them is “Rituals”, the BBC’s companion piece to “Human Planet” – which incidentally was scored by Nitin Sawhney.

“This one is really focusing on humans rather than animals,” said Desai.

About Bafta Breakthrough Brits
Amanda Berry OBE, chief executive of Bafta, said: “Now in its fourth year, Breakthrough Brits, in partnership with Burberry, is our headline new talent initiative showcasing, celebrating and supporting the next generation of British creative talent in film, television and games.
“Our 2016 Breakthrough Brits come from a range of backgrounds and represent the variety of specialisms that make up our creative industries. I’m thrilled to see such talented individuals recognised this year.”
You have to apply to be considered for a Breakthrough Brit and a special jury makes the final selections across the film, TV and games sector. This year the 18-strong jury included actors Rosamund Pike ('A United Kingdom, 'Gone Girl') and Joe Dempsie ('Game of Thrones','Skins') , director Sarah Gavron ('Suffragette', 'Brick Lane') and Bafta award-winning computer games designer and developer Mike Bithell ('Thomas Was Alone', 'MonsterMind'). There are also powerful industry figures and among them was Sanjay Singhal, chief executive of Voltage TV, an independent production company which produces programmes for the country’s leading broadcasters.There are also international jury members drawn from the US who also feed into the process. Bafta Breakthrough Brits receive one-to-one mentoring, an international travel bursary, guidance sessions and networking opportunities, as well as free access to BAFTA events, for 12 months. See below for more links.
Pictured above: Rosamund Pike speaking and Nainita Desai and Vinay Patel (fourth and fifth from left standing)

She is also helping to score a feature documentary about the plight of Syrian refugees, called “Lost in Lebanon”.

“I want to contribute to important stories like this, it’s not purely about escapism and drama. I want to be able to have feet in both camps (documentary and fiction) – one helps inform the other.”

One of Desai’s undoubted strengths is her versatility and range.

While for the most part her work has been in TV and documentaries (and non-Asian), she said she totally immerses herself in the director’s vision and the passion and commitment are no different – whether it is fact or fiction.

“In some respects, music is music, and it’s telling a story and real life can be more powerful, it’s true life – but then sometimes fact can be more bizarre than fiction.”

She has a degree in maths and got her first breaks as a sound designer for films, before working as an engineer at the Real World Studios set up by Peter Gabriel and many world music artists.

Before all that, she learnt as young girl to play Indian instruments at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Hammersmith and always followed music as an extra-curricular activity at school.

She has her own studio and her own company, Soundology, which specialises in producing bespoke music for film and TV.

Desai said: “I don’t have expectations, I am waiting to see how things pan out and the next year is very exciting indeed and with the Bafta thing it should help open doors that I felt were a little closed to me.”

Picture credits: Bafta (lead picture: Jamie Simmons)

More information on Bafta Breakthrough Brits

Vinay Patel interview

See the full list of Bafta Breakthrough Brits –
About Bafta Breakthrough Brits

For more information, please email or see


‘Mumbai High’ – Sound of a young nation on the move…

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture