Composers Jongnic Bontemps and Raashi Kulkarni’s Triumph of Sound For ‘World’s Best’ (Interview)

Sit down and learn how to make music with emotion, diving deep into what it means to drive the heart of Disney+’s original movie, World’s Best, with composers Jongnic Bontemps and Raashi Kulkarni.

(L-R): Manny Magnus as Prem and Utkarsh Ambudkar as Suresh in WORLD’S BEST, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ahead of World’s Best release on June 23, The DisInsider’s Alex Lue had the pleasure of sitting down with both composers of the upcoming Disney+ original movie, Raashi Kulkarni (Wedding Season) and Jongnic Bontemps (Transformers: Rise of the Beasts).

World’s Best, an all-new Disney+ film around the life of mathematic middle school genius Prem Patel (Manny Magnus), discovers an inherited love of rap from his deceased father (Utkarsh Ambudkar). Upon finding his father’s forgotten journal, Suresh’s spirit returns to guide Prem through a coming-of-age adventure of a lifetime.

In an exclusive interview, Jongnic Bontemps shares the journey of joining Disney+ per the invite of close collaborator and friend Raashi Kulkarni, who “graciously extended an invitation to me [Jongnic] to join her on this project.” The two are a rare pair in Hollywood, valuing friendship over fleeting success.

Realizing that the duo could tackle the difficult task of bringing “old school” music to a contemporary audience, Jongnic Bontemps highlights the importance of staying true to the authentic sounds of the 1990s and early 2000s:

“After reading the script, and we listen to the songs, we started to pull together what we thought like the sound of the school is going to b,e you know, it’s a hip hop musical. So we’ve had to make sure that the hip-hop was authentic to the time 90s [and] 2000.

Jongnic continues:

“You know, I was thinking we have some like De La Sol in there, a little bit of Tribe Called Quest… Where the influence is for the songs… We need [a] “boom-bap” drum kit, we need electric bass, because that’s the sound of that kind of music, right? But then the other thing that we talked about was the characters of South Asia, that we need to represent that culture in an extremely authentic way.”

Pulling from her diversified sound palette to elevate the sound of a “Disney movie” to an original movie, Raashi shares the importance of blending various cultural themes into a rap setting:

Utkarsh wanted us to pay homage to their Indian roots, but we wanted to do it in a subtle way while still respecting the hip-hop culture of the 90s and the 2000s. So, we were able to blend all these elements [into] our background in orchestral music, with hip hop with South Asian culture and essentially create a score that I think was unique. It was fresh.”

Sharing my appreciation for a genuine composition that doesn’t sound like it was produced by artificial intelligence, Raashi reveals the gamble that Disney took when producing World’s Best:

“Shout out to Disney for also investing in the musicians. We were able to get a full-string orchestra, a pop brass section, and [an] electric bass player, and our vocalist. We had four scoring sessions for this film!”

Disney is defying the status quo of streaming movies with an investment in actual musicians, allowing their artistic values to drive the heart of World’s Best, its music, with a human touch, rather than depending on the software or artificial intelligence to generate lifeless pieces of music.

Be sure to listen to the whole conversation below to learn how to score an original piece of music in a world where authentic creativity is becoming a rare necessity.

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