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Making Music
Music is another key element of the film. Since the character of Sam's deceased father Jerry was in the music business in the 1970s, music is an important thread that ties the past to the present, enhances the storytelling and links the characters. "The idea of the father as a music producer is part of the DNA of the writing but part of it too is a filmic idea that we all have a soundtrack to our lives," says producer/co-writer Bob Orci. "When you are going through a big change, somehow you remember the music in your life better," continues Orci. "So the fact that Jerry, Sam's father, was a music producer made it something that is a comfort to Sam and also becomes part of the soundtrack of his life. Sam is left the record collection instead of money. He is left with this legacy of music."

In the film, Sam's father Jerry is a character who is supposed to have been successful, but not the biggest hit maker of all time. That storyline gave the filmmakers a chance to find great music that may not have been the most popular of that era, which was graced by such iconic acts as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. The filmmakers had an opportunity to introduce or reintroduce the audience to music of the period that was exciting, but may have been overshadowed at the time.

Sam first meets neophyte music lover Josh in a record store, where Josh is busy stealing CDs. Sam engages Josh in conversation, introducing him to the music of his generation and some of the artists he learned about from growing up around his dad.

Producer Bobby Cohen feels that it is in scenes like this where the music undercurrent in the film pays off. "At a certain point in our lives, music becomes very important to us. But let's face it, most of don't know where to start, so it's great to see Sam pass down his knowledge to Josh," says Cohen. "Again, we had a very clear idea that we wanted an eclectic mix of music-cool but not trendy. It's another smart element of the film."

But there was also a more modern music sensibility that spoke to Frankie and Sam, and the worlds that they live in. Director Alex Kurtzman points out, "Finding the balance of the character of the music and the identity of the music was important, so that the music was telling you a story in a progression along the way."

Because the music in the film was obviously so important to the filmmakers, Kurtzman knew he needed a composer who could bring a score that was much more than generic. He explains, "I knew it needed to be orchestral and I knew that it needed to also be able to branch out to other very different kinds of sounds and when I heard the 'Slumdog Millionaire' score by A.R. Rahman, I was blown away by the fact that it was a different sound."

It was his score for "Slumdog Millionaire" that catapulted Rahman to fame after winning two Academy Awards® for Best Score and Best Song. Overall, he won 15 awards, including two GRAMMYs®, a Golden Globe® and a BAFTA. To date, Rahman has won 25 Filmfare Awards, 3 MTV Awards, 4 IIFA Awards, 6 Tamil Nadu State Awards, 6 Zee Awards and 4 Screen Awards. "A.R. stuck out for me as a composer who was just doing something very different," Kurtzman continues. "When we met, I could tell that he was a genius and that he could probably do anything. He very quickly understood the sound that I was looking for and we spent two months together at his house while we were in post, figuring out how to work the songs and notes and every little rhythm, every little emotional nuance into the film.

"He was an amazing collaborator. There's a reason why he has won two Oscars®. He's extraordinarily talented. He was the unexpected choice, which is what I loved about it," Kurtzman concludes.

The soundtrack includes an end credits song titled "Dotted Line," which is sung by accomplished singer/songwriter Liz Phair. Phair co-wrote the song with composer A.R. Rahman. She says of the experience, "A.R. Rahman and Alex Kurtzman are amazing. 'People Like Us' is a truly powerful film. I'm very proud to be part of it."


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