During the 90s, as the IT industry was starting to pick up in India, a young Vizag lad decided to take a path that had not even taken shape – the world of sound. Adrushta Deepak Pallikonda (known as PA Deepak within the industry) never thought that growing in this lesser-known field would lead him to travel beyond the state. Eventually, even beyond the country, to work on award-winning music that has been globally recognised by some of the world’s premier musical institutions.
PA Deepak came from a humble Vizag family without technical or musical background. While growing up in Vizag, he initially found himself drawn to the guitar and got sucked into the world of music. Eight years went by as he regularly played for local bands and events but soon discovered an emerging trend from analogue to digital music. He started working at the St. Luke’s Studio in Vizag, the only one to have a mixing console in the late 90s. This was the starting point of his career as a self-taught sound engineer. “I had no mentor or class that took me through the process of learning to mix sound. Internet cafes played a major role in what I am today,” said the keen learner who downloaded modules from the internet for a cost.
After shifting toward the technical aspects of music, Deepak applied to the Audio Institute of America (AIA) for audio engineering. The enthusiastic individual completed the course and soon became one of the best audio engineers in Vizag. But he was still not satisfied. He knew he had much more to learn, but it would be impossible to do so while staying in Vizag.
Taking the advice from world-renowned flautist Naveen Kumar (also from Vizag and worked on many of A R Rahman’s films), Deepak moved to Mumbai on 12 April 2004. This drastic shift from a smaller and calmer city like Vizag to the bustling city of Mumbai wasn’t an easy task. Staying at Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and commuting in local trains, he started recording and mixing for ads/films/songs at the Nirvana Studios, owned by renowned music composer and drummer Ranjit Barot. Taking this giant leap positively affected Deepak’s career, as he soon began contributing to the Indian film industry.
After his first break with Main Hoon Naa, prominent music directors like M M Keeravani and Chakri recruited Deepak to leverage his technical skills as a musician. “The thing that worked in my favour was that there were very few people who understood both the compositional and technical aspects of music,” remarks the GRAMMY awardee from Vizag. Soon, PA Deepak became a common name in the music industry for sound engineering. He continued to work around the clock and stayed dedicated to his craft.
Deepak chose to take another bold step and ventured into freelancing. Starting with Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, he also became a part of most of A R Rahman’s projects, such as Guru, Rockstar, Delhi-6, Raavanan, and many more. Little did Deepak know that this move was paving his path to be honoured by one of the top internationally recognised platforms, the GRAMMYs. For his work as an engineer in the compilation of the soundtracks of Slumdog Millionaire in 2010, P A Deepak was awarded his first GRAMMY at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.
The artist, who never crafted his skills for awards, continued to give his best. In 2015, he received a Certificate of Honour from the Recording Academy for contributing to the Grammy award-winning album Winds of Samsara as the sound mix engineer.
Fast forward to 2022; the 64th Annual Grammy Award for the Best New Age Album – Divine Tides was given to the legendary rock drummer Stewart Copeland (The Police), Ricky Kej, Lonnie Park and Vanil Veiga and PA Deepak, who was the Engineer/Mixer on the team. “The second time around, it was satisfaction. There was a pleasant shock as this happened during the pandemic’s most depressing times. I was happy that my work had an impact beyond my imagination,” expressed the GRAMMY awardee from Vizag.
With no regrets in life, the GRAMMY awardee from Vizag is currently working on two international collaborations apart from movies. He has collaborated with two composers, one based in America and another in the Middle East, to try something new.
While speaking about the possible scope of Vizag in this industry, PA Deepak said, “Vizag has always been a picture-perfect destination for movies. The only problem is that we have beautiful locations, but we do not have sufficient technology that is required to complete a movie.” He also feels that since Telugu movies are being made in Hyderabad and it’s high time for the Andhra Pradesh State Government to offer subsidies and bring the Telugu Film Industry (TFI) here. “Once the film industry sets up a base in AP, the rest will follow. Music studios will automatically come up,” he added.
On a closing note, PA Deepak reminisced his days in Vizag and shared some advice for upcoming musicians. He urges youngsters to take bold steps in life and work hard towards their passion. “Success doesn’t come easy, and you must cross many obstacles. Convey your passion for music, or any other field, to your family, and make them understand that it’s more than just a hobby,” advises Deepak.
Awards and Recognitions:
2022: 64th Annual Grammy Awards Best New Age Album-Divine Tides |Engineer/Mixer|
2021: Smule Mirchi Music Awards Best Sound Mixing of the Decade-Tamil Film: Kadal
2011: Vijay Music Awards Best Sound Mixing-Film: Enthiran
2010: 52nd Annual Grammy Awards Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media: Slumdog Millionaire |Engineer/Mixer|
2009: Airtel Mirchi Music Awards Best Song Mixing & Engineering-Film: Delhi6
2005: AV MAX Awards Best Recording Engineer-Film: Paheli
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