Asif KapadiaAsif Kapadia

Asif Kapadia

Who was Amy Winehouse? Yes, we all know she was a talented and a 6-time Grammy winning British musician, who died tragically at the age of 27. But, who was the real Amy Wineshouse? How did she die and how did this happen in this day and age in London? These were some of the questions that director Asif Kapadia had in his mind and wanted to find the answers to them. He found the answer to his questions in Amy’s diary and the lyrics of her songs. Kapadia says he wanted to reveal the Amy Winehouse that nobody knew. The result is a brilliant and riveting documentary called Amy told in the singer’s own voice with help from her family, friends and agents.

This is not the Winehouse we knew. This is not the Winehouse that we got to see or read about on TV and magazines. This is a very different Winehouse, who was at once shy in front of camera and confident singing in front of an audience. She was nervous about becoming famous.  In the film we see the slow unravelling of a talented singer and an abandoned child in search of love. Love is the theme Kapadia explores in the film, and love is the theme that Wineshouse explores in her songs. If I have to sum up the film it is about love says Kapadia in an interview I did with him in San Francisco.

We spoke to Kapadia about the making of Amy, his editor Chris King and his fascination with eyes. And since Kapadia mentioned Bollywood, we asked him about Irrfan Khan and his plans to make a film with him. And, I did ask Kapadia about Amy being shortlisted for an Oscar, and he offered an interesting answer to that question. Amy is one of the five documentary films shortlisted for the 2016 Oscars and has a strong chance of winning the award.


Amy is my Bollywood film says Kapadia. He explains how in the beginning he drove around London listening to Wineshouse’s music in his car. And then at some point he started to read the lyrics of her songs and had a  lightbulb moment. “This is for me a Bollywood film. This is a musical, where the songs are the narrative. Amy is the most eloquent in her song writing,” he says. Music then forms the spine of Kapadia’s narrative on Winehouse.

Kapadia interviewed over a 100 people for the film. He ended up  using audio interviews from about 23-25 people. He combined the audio interviews with video footage of Winehouse from her friends, and the interviews that she gave along with the lyrics of her songs. initially Amy was about 4 hours long. They eventually trimmed the film down to 2 hours and 8 minutes.

Kapadia takes a middle path in the film. He lays out all the information and leaves it to his audience to judge where they stand vis-a-vis Winehouse, a talented artist, who was manic depressive and an addict. Like many of the viewers who have seen the film you might find yourself wanting to reach out and tell Amy “No, don’t do that” or “Don’t listen to them.” You want to save her. But, tragically it is too late.

The film will elicit an emotional response from you, which means Kapadia has succeeded in connecting with his audience, which is always an elusive goal to achieve for a filmmaker.

Amy releases in the San Francisco Bay area on Friday, July 10, 2015.

  • Title: AMY
  • Running Time: 128 minutes
  • Status: Releasing July 10, 2015
  • Country: UK
  • Genre: Documentary

AMY clip courtesy: A24


Mikey McCleary

Listen to Mikey McCleary on The Kamla Show

Meet Mikey McCleary, musician, composer and music producer.He has been kept busy creating music for Bollywood films and Indian advertisements, and lately he has branched out to score music for Indian-American filmmaker Shonali Bose’s “Margarita With A Straw”

If his name is unfamiliar, his music must certainly be familiar to most of us. You might have heard his track from “Bombay Velvet” that releases later this year; or, his Tu Hi Tu from “Nautanki Sala.” Perhaps this track from “Shanghai.” or Khoya Khoya Chand from “Shaitan” is a favorite. Then again, you probably would recognize the catchy jingles he put together for Vodafone or Levi’s?

We spoke with McCleary last month on a wide range of topics ranging from his early years in India to his teenage years growing up in New Zealand, the music and bands he listened to, and how he came to compose music for Bollywood films and for Bose’s “”Margarita With A Straw,” his first international film.

McCleary’s musical  taste is eclectic, and this is clearly reflected in the music he is creating in Bollywood. As a teenager he listened to a wide variety of music, his favourites being David Bowie, Dire Straits, Queen, Bob Dylan and Cure.  He enjoyed classical music as well. He studied music and composition in New Zealand before moving to London to work in a recording studio. It was during his stint in London that he helped his former brother-in-law (an Indian)  produce his first album. They ended up working on 3 albums.

About 7 years ago McCleary relocated to Mumbai, the entertainment capital of India and home to Bollywood, the biggest film industry in the world. McCleary first worked in the advertisement industry and produced some memorable jingles. He then got a break making music for Bollywood films.

“India has a way of becoming addictive,” he says. It is not just India that is addictive, but also those vintage classic Hindi film music. His wife Diksha Basu introduced him to Hindi classic songs and he seems to have a special fondness for Geeta Dutt songs.

McCleary is reimagining some of the old Hindi songs in new ways. Often, he introduces a swing element to the the music, and the re-invented songs have found a new audience in India. In fact it is just such a re-worked version of Dutt’s song that is featured in “Bombay Velvet.”

He has produced 3 albums under The Bartender series that pay homage to old Hindi songs; one of the albums is devoted entirely to songs from Amitabh Bachchan’s films. A hallmark of his music is the manner in which he encourages his singers to be inventive with different styles without being tied down to the customery renditions traditional to Bollywood. “I like to encourage my singers to push their voices, to explore different sounds”. For instance he encouraged one his singers to cultivate an ‘Amy Winehouse’s vibe‘ in her voice. Anushka Manchanda, Shalmali Kholgade, Mauli Dave and Rachel Varghese are some of the singers he has worked with to nurture their innovative atistry.




Besides the 3 albums devoted to Hindi classic songs, McCleary produced his first album “TV Dinners” in English. The album features songs from his popular jingles, except he extended them into full fledged numbers. There are 5 music videos that he has made featuring some of the tracks from his new album.

What is next in store for Mikey? He is working on two new projects. He is writing a story for a musical film and working on producing a new album.


And, here is a short playlist of McCleary’s music.

Songs featured courtesy of  Saregama

Photo credit: Mikey McCleary