About

Nainita Desai

“With footage as raw and dramatic as this, it’s a credit to composer Nainita Desai that her score remains restrained and understated throughout, emphasising subtler themes of endurance and empathy, while gesturing gently toward the possibility of hope – of love – even in the midst of tragedy”
FOR SAMA The Guardian Film Review 2019

“Because the subject matter is so raw… the last thing you need is a score that over states things because the situation is so dramatic, so horrifying…there is hope and light in there as well. But what it really needs is a sensitive score and I think that’s absolutely what ND has done brilliantly…For Sama is one of the most powerful films I’ve seen in a very long time and It’s terrific just how understated and sensitive the score is.”

Mark Kermode, Scala Radio Film Music Radio Show

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Working at the forefront of a new wave of emerging artists, Nainita is a BAFTA BREAKTHROUGH BRIT and has worked in British television for over two decades scoring countless BAFTA, Oscar, Emmy acclaimed productions.

The PRS placed Desai at No 2 in their Top 10 female writers whose work was most used in Film & TV through 2018. She won Best Feature Film Score at the Music+Sound Awards 2016 , and is a GOPO Romania Film Awards Nominee 2019 , NaturVision Film Awards Winner 2019 for Best Film Score, amongst five other music wins and nominations in 2019 to date.

Nainita’s 2018/19 feature releases include For Sama which has won 23 top prizes including Best Documentary Feature at SXSW and Cannes Film Festival and is currently on theatrical releaseUntamed Romania, the most successful Romanian non-fiction film of 2018, WW2 period drama Enemy Within, BFI psychological horror Darkness Visible (Dir: Neil Biswas, co-creator of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man)The Life After (BBC / Screen Ireland) which world Premiered at Galway Intl Film Festival 2018 and Interactive game / video game Telling Lies one of the top critically acclaimed releases of 2019 for Annapurna Interactive (Phantom Thread, Destroyer) directed by multi-Bafta winning Sam Barlow.

Her upcoming 2020 projects include feature film The Reason I Jump (BFI | Met Films), Netflix original series Bad Boy Billionaires and innovative Quibi | BBC NHU series Fierce Queens.

Recent films include The Confessions of Thomas Quick (BFI/Film4) for which Nainita won the Music+Sound Awards Best Film Score 2016, Bafta nominated: Raped-My Story and Catching A Killer (C4)acclaimed series Extraordinary Rituals, the BBC NHU follow up to the multi Bafta winning series Human Planet and the title theme for the prestigious                                                                                       BBC Royal Wedding Meghan and Harry.

Working in a wide range of musical genres, Nainita moves seamlessly between working with orchestras including the London Contemporary Orchestra (Phantom Thread, There Will Be Blood) and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, to ethnic influenced music utilising her collection of custom made instruments from around the world, incorporating electronics, found sound and experimental sound design as well as song-writing, which has led to collaborations with artists including Eivor (The Last Kingdom) and writing documentary musicals for the BBC including the acclaimed Mumbai High – The Musical.

Nainita’s musical foundations are rooted in world music and documentary where she has forged an enviable reputation, proving time and again that she is extremely versatile, embracing every score with a unique creative approach where required.

As a sound designer, Nainita’s career began on feature films for Bertolucci (Little Buddha) and Werner Herzog (Lessons of Darkness) including Backbeat (Dir: Ian Softley), Lessons of Darkness (Dir: Werner Herzog), August (Dir: Anthony Hopkins), and Hackers (Angelina Jolie).

Nainita was born and brought up in London to Indian parents and her eclectic musical upbringing as a child led her to studying the sitar, piano, guitar, tabla, singing and violin. Nainita obtained a degree in Mathematics before attending the NFTS specializing in sound design. Her passion for music technology led to her working in music engineering working with many top artistes and bands ranging from The Damned to Tori Amos. which led to work with Peter Gabriel during the legendary Real World Recording Week  sessions, and working with the top world music artists including Billy Cobham, Daniel LanoisJane Sibbery, Nigel Kennedy, Sinead O’Connor, Ravi Shankar.

Nainita sits on the CAG Committee at the PRS and is on the media committee at Ivors Academy. She is also a full voting member of BAFTA, WFTV, GANG, the Alliance of Women Film Composers.

She also travels internationally giving masterclasses and interviews about her work ranging from Cannes Film Festival 2019, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ASA Women in Music Conference, Kiev Ukraine, Moshita Music Conference South Africa, WOMEX in Copenhagen amongst numerous others festivals and conferences.

AWARDS

BAFTA BREAKTHROUGH BRIT 2016
TELLING LIES 2019 MUSIC+SOUND AWARDS 2019 WINNER BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC FOR A VIDEO GAME TRAILER
SLEEPER 2019 MUSIC+SOUND AWARD 2019 NOMINEE: BEST SOUND DESIGN FOR A SHORT FILM
UNTAMED ROMANIA 2019 GOPO-ROMANIAN FILM AWARDS 2019 BEST ORIGINAL FILM SCORE
NATURVISION FILM FESTIVAL BEST FILM SCORE NOMINEE 2019
ASIAN WOMEN ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS 2019 ARTS+CULTURE AWARD NOMINEE
EXTRAORDINARY RITUALS 2019 RTS WEST AWARDS 2019 Nominee
MUSIC+SOUND AWARDS NOMINEE: BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC FOR A TV TITLE THEME
FOR SAMA 2019 SXSW 2019 Best Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize | Audience Award Prize
Cannes Film Festival: Prix L'Œil d’Or for Best Documentary
HOTDOCS Special Jury Prize | Sheffield DocFest official selection
ASIAN ACHIEVER'S AWARDS 2017 Contribution to Arts, Culture and Media Nominee
THE CONFESSIONS OF THOMAS QUICK 2016 MUSIC+SOUND AWARD 2016 | BEST ORIGINAL COMPOSITION: FEATURE FILM SCORE
THE CONFESSIONS OF THOMAS QUICK 2016 WOMEN IN SYNC AWARDS Nominee (2016) | BEST ORIGINAL FILM SCORE
THE DAY KENNEDY DIED RTS BEST MUSIC SCORE 2014 | BAFTA: BEST SINGLE DOC NOMINEE
CHECKPOST MUSIC + SOUND NOMINEE 2014 BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
THE NATURAL WORLD–A MOOSE NAMED MADELINE BEST MUSIC MERIT AWARD MISSOULA WILDLIFE FILM FESTIVAL
LITTLE TERRORIST OSCAR NOMINEE and multiple award winner at over 70 film festivals worldwide as well as BEST MUSIC AWARD Lucarnia Film Festival ITALY
THE OCCASION ANNECY INTL FILM FESTIVAL: BEST SOUND DESIGN & MUSIC
SHARK BATTLEFIELDS BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND : JACKSON HOLE WILDLIFE FILM FESTIVAL
RAPED: MY STORY BAFTA TV AWARDS | RTS | Griersons | Broadcast Awards 2018 Nominee
MY DAD, THE PEACE DEAL & ME (BBC1) Grierson Awards Winner 2018 | Bafta 2019 Best Single Doc Nominee
CATCHING A KILLER BAFTA TV AWARDS | RTS | Broadcast Awards 2018 Best Documentary Series Nominee
MY FAMILY, THE PARTITION & ME RTS Awards Winner 2017
9/11 THE DAY THAT CHANGED THE WORLD BAFTA NOMINEE: BEST SINGLE DOC
CHILDREN OF BESLAN BAFTA Best Single Doc Nominee and 2 x EMMY NOMINEE: (HBO) Direction & Cinematography
WHO GOT DIANA DOR’S MILLIONS? RTS AWARD: BEST FACTUAL ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME

FEATURES | TELEVISION DRAMA

THE REASON I JUMP [Feature Doc] Dir: Jerry Rothwell | BFI | Vulcan
FOR SAMA [Feature] Dir: Ed Watts + Waad Al-Kateab | C4 | PBS | 90mins
THE MODERATORS Dir: Nour Wazzi | Wildseed Studios
ENEMY WITHIN - WW2 drama [Feature] 27Ten Films | Dir: Gabriel Robertson | Prod: Ken Petrie
SLEEPER [Animation] Dir: Jordan Buckner | BBC Films | BFI Animation
ANEMONE [Drama] Dir: Amrou Al-Khadi (Screen Star of Tomorrow 2018) BBC | Film London
LAB RAT [Drama] Dir: Nour Wazzi | Panacea Productions
DARKNESS VISIBLE - Supernatural horror [Feature] BFI | Newscope Films | Dir: Neil Biswas
HUNTING THE KGB KILLERS - [Feature Doc] Dir: Chris Malone | Exec Prod: Brian Woods | Truevision
THE CONFESSIONS OF THOMAS QUICK - [Feature Doc] BFI / Film4 / Century Films | Dir: Brian Hill
CITY OF DREAMS – A MUSICAL [Feature Doc] BBC / Century Films | Dir: Brian Hill / Sam Benstead Sheffield 2016
MAXWELL [TV Drama] EMMY AWARD WINNING Dir/Prod: Colin Barr | Starring: David Suchet & Patricia Hodge
CHECKPOST [Drama] Music+Sound Best Music Nominee 2014 UK Dir: Aneel Ahmed
TO KIDNAP A PRINCESS [TV Drama] Dir: John Alexander | ITV
LITTLE BUDDHA [Feature] Dir: Bernardo Bertolucci | Prod: Jeremy Thomas (Keanu Reeves / Bridget Fonda)
BACKBEAT [Feature] Dir: Iain Softley | Producers: Scala Productions
AUGUST [Feature] Dir & Starring: Anthony Hopkins | ITV Films
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE [Feature] Dir : Neil Jordan | Scala Productions (Tom Cruise / Brad Pitt)
HACKERS [Feature] Dir: Ian Softley | Starring; Angelina Jolie
DEATH MACHINE [Feature] Dir: Steve Norrington | Prod: Fugitive Features
FATHERLAND [Feature] Dir: Chris Menaul | HBO | Starring: Rutger Hauer
GREAT EXPECTATIONS [Feature] Dir: Alfonso Cuaron | Starring: Robert De Niro / Gwyneth Paltrow
THE BURNING OILFIELDS OF KUWAIT [Feature] Dir: Werner Herzog
MOLLY [short drama] UK Dir: Greg Karpinski

TRAILERS+COMMERCIALS

Music for over 30 film trailers by E Entertainment, Nordic Noir and Arrow films including Borgen and Wallander.

BBC ROYAL WEDDING Opening Titles 2018 – 30 million audience (Performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales)

Various Commercials for brands including: LAND ROVER / SAMSUNG / FOSTERS / NINTENDO / MIGRALEVE / SONY/ CHICLETS CHEWING GUM / SAFIA MINERAL WATER / CAPO MILK / MIGRALEVE

INTERACTIVE | GAMES

TELLING LIES: Interactive Movie | Game for Annapurna Pictures (Zero Dark Thirty | Phantom Thread | If Beale St Could Talk) and multiple BAFTA award winning games designer + Director Sam Barlow (Her Story | Silent Hill)

DOCUMENTARY

Countless series and one off docs in many genres. Recent projects include the scores for Extraordinary Rituals (BBCNHU), Equator From The Air (BBC2), Earth’s Natural Wonders (BBC1), My Dad The Peace Deal and Me (BBC1)  Bafta Best Single Doc, Grierson, RTS Nominee Raped: My Story Bafta, RTS, Grierson 2018 Nominee (C5) Catching A Killer Bafta, RTS, Broadcast Awards 2018 Nominee (C4 / Brian Woods), Hunting the KGB Killers (C4), Tribes, Predators & Me with Gordon Buchanon (BBC NHU) Hunters of the South Seas (BBC2), Sue Perkins in Kolkata (BBC1), Britain’s Biggest Adventures with Bear Grylls (ITV), Dinosaur Britain (CGI family adventure series ITV), Britain At Low Tide (C4), The Day Hitler Died (ITV), The Day They Dropped the Bomb (ITV), Living with Nomads with Kate Humble (BBC2), Treasures of the Indus (BBC4), Police Interceptors (C5), Million Dollar Princesses (Smithsonian), Africa Rivers Wild (Animal Planet), The Mekong with Sue Perkins (BBC2)

TALKS + EVENTS

Speaking and contributing at various events including:

MAGAZINE | WEBSITE INTERVIEWS: Resolution Pro Audio Magazine | Broadcast Magazine | Sonixinema Website | Timespace Interviews | Sound on Sound magazine | Dox Magazine | Audiomedia Magazine | Music+Sound Awards | Asian Achievers Magazine | Broadcast Tech Magazine | The Annotator podcast and numerous others

EVENTS:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – ASA Music Conference October 2019 – masterclass on music for film & TV

Tech Dissect 2019 – Spitfire Audio

LA Comic Con – October 2019 Panel on Video Games Music

Open City Documentary Film Festival 2019 September – Masterclass on music for documentaries

Tom Needhams Sounds of Film radio show WUSB – New York, USA

Gemma Dempsey – Sohoradio interview  April

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2019: American Pavilion Panel Speaker on ‘The Film Music of Cannes”

Sohoradio: PRS M Magazine Radio Show

BRITISH COUNCIL – ENVISION SOUND, UKRAINE (organising and running a series of Masterclasses in Kiev, Ukraine 2019)

LONDON GAMES FESTIVAL – ENSEMBLE Exhibition Steering Committee

UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH – Guest Lecture Jan 2019

NATIONAL FILM AND TELEVISION SCHOOL Feb 2019 Masterclass on music for film & TV

Organiser of the BASCA MEDIA COMPOSER CONFERENCE – April 2018, Barbican | Guildhall – Interviewer, panellist

ECSA EUROPEAN FILM MUSIC DAY – CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2018

DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY,  LEICESTER – Women In The Media Industries 2018

LONDON FEMINIST FILM FESTIVAL – Panellist on Film Practices

SHEFFIELD DOC FEST 2017 Craft Summit: The Art of Musical Score

DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY of LEICESTER – WOMEN IN MEDIA CONFERENCE

MPA (Music Publishers Association) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COURSE – Panel Speaker

UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE – Guest Lecture

BASCA MEDIA COMPOSER CONFERENCE 2016: Organiser and Speaker

DIRECTORS UK 2016 : Interviewer: In conversation with Hugo Blick and Martin Phipps

BATH FILM FESTIVAL 2016  Judge on the Filmscore competition

FRONTLINE CLUB : ‘Music for Documentary’ panel

SOUND CITY LIVERPOOL CONFERENCE 2016

THE STORY OF SOUND CONFERENCE, Lighthouse Brighton, 2015

BFI / LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2015: Music or Screen talk

Session speaker at WIRED WOMEN – part of UNDERWIRE FESTIVAL Nov 2015

THE SOUND OF STORY 2015 / CINECITY FILM FESTIVAL 2015

SHEFFIELD DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL 2014 : session speaker on ‘Bespoke Music Scores for Documentaries’

SOUNDOLOGY BREAKTHROUGH PITCH sponsor and leader of pitching panel at Sheffield Doc Fest to help young film makers make their first short doc.

WOMEX – Copenhagen The most important annual international professional market expo of world music of every kind.

Music & Pictures – New rules, new markets conference afiilliated  with MOSHITO, Africa’s largest annual music conference : Johannesburg, South Africa

ASIANS IN MUSIC CONFERENCE, SOUTHBANK, LONDON : ‘Asian Women in Music’ panel

FABER MUSIC – Music for TV short course : guest speaker

SOAS University of London– School of African and Asian Studies, University of London – guest speaker

Goldsmiths College – MA Film making students: Guest Speaker

Nainita is also a visiting lecturer in Media Composition on the BA (Hons) Music degree and Music for the Media (short course) at Goldsmiths College, University of London and has guest lectured at the Royal College of Music

JUDGING

2016 – 2019:

Bafta Games Jury 2019

Bafta Games YGD Awards 2019

Bafta Breakthrough Brits 2018

Ivor Novellos – film & TV categories over the years

Music+Sound Awards 2018

BAFTA Craft Awards

Emmys

RTS Craft  Awards

Embertone Composition Contest

Music+Sound Awards