Earlier this year, British composer Nainita Desai released a wide variety of her scores, including her music to Annapurna Interactive’s narrative video game Telling Lies, to multiple award-winning war doc For Sama, World War Two drama Enemy Within and the award-winning score to nature documentary Untamed Romania.
Desai now also reveals her score to Neil Biswas’ supernatural thriller Darkness Visible. This BFI production was released in US theatres earlier this year and is currently playing in UK theatres.
Darkness Visible is a supernatural thriller set in India. London-raised Ronnie is distraught when his mother, Suleka, suddenly goes missing and then mysteriously turns up in a Kolkata hospital. Ronnie follows, discovering an extended family his mother never talked about, and a strange feeling stirring inside him as he visits his “homeland” for the first time. Before Ronnie can unravel what brought her to India, Suleka dies in an apparent ritual killing, with more deaths pointing to a series of past murders that stopped 28 years ago when Suleka left India with baby Ronnie. As the darkness within Ronnie grows and the murders reach their zenith, all roads lead to the feared witch of Kolkata’s insane asylum – Rakhee.
For this particular movie, Nainita Desai and director Neil Biswas were inspired by strong – instant classics
psychological horror movies:
“We did not want a conventional horror score for this film. We avoided using clichéd Indian instruments such as the sitar or tablas. We were after a much more cerebral atmospheric score that portrayed the inner journey and character transformation of Ronnie.
I could identify with the essence of the main character as he is an ‘outsider’ trying to connect with his roots when he arrives in India as a stranger. The ethnicity of the score is something that is embedded in my own DNA so it’s not something that I had to work hard at bringing out. It was already there!
I have been particularly inspired by the atmosphere evoked by films such as ‘The Shining’, ‘Angel Heart’, and ‘Don’t Look Now’ – real classics of psychological horror – that look at the unravelling and descent of the main characters and in the case of ‘Don’t Look Now’ – also the ‘under the surface’ underworld portrayal of a busy bustling city. With Neil Biswas, we did not want to resort to conventional horror scores relying upon the over-use of shock effects and stings.”