'Pi's Lullaby': Story Behind the Oscar Best Song Nominee
Sally Stevens

This article is from the February 9, 2013, issue of Billboard magazine. You can click here to subscribe, and go here to order back issues

Best Songs: The Stories Behind This Year's Oscar Nominees

Song: "Pi's Lullaby"
Film: "Life of Pi"
Songwriters/Composers: Mychael Danna (music), Bombay Jayashri (lyrics)
Performer: Bombay Jayashri

Mychael Danna: "The first thing we wrote, and it ended up to be one of the themes, was the song. I went to India in December [2011] and wrote the song there with Bombay. That  was the very first [music] committed to tape and it took a year to do this score. She wrote the words. She's a South Indian well known for her film music. I was familiar with her work and she was someone we knew would capture the innocence of Pi's youth.

"As soon as [director Ang Lee] starting talking about what he wanted to convey, she struck me as the ideal of what you would want your mother's voice to sound like if you were a little Indian boy.

"We recorded the main orchestra on the Fox lot, but we went all over the world and did a lot of recording in India. Whenever possible, I travel and record in a lot of different, strange places. We have Balinese gamelan, Persian instruments, English choir boys, Tibetan vocals. It helps, not just physically, but musically, to go to them when I'm working with non-Western musicians. It's like casting a movie: You have to be aware of what each character is, where it springs from and how it can help you tell a story."

Song Sales: 3,000
Soundtrack Sales: 4,000
U.S. Box Office: $103.5 million